Mark Kilby Hard Bat Singles

Post date: Dec 15, 2020 11:17:3 AM

A table tennis season would not feel complete without the staging of one of the more popular tournaments on the local calendar and Monday evening saw the Mark J Kilby Memorial Hard Bat Trophy contested for, the final of the re-arranged tournaments from the COVID struck 2019/20 season.

The tournament is always fairly open due to the ‘level playing field’ nature of the competition which is largely as a result of every player using the same pimple bat throughout the evening, including a switch of bats between ends.

Despite this fact, the players to reach the final were the 2 most decorated of this form of the game, with an incredible 16 titles shared between them in the past 27 years. The recent form player in this event Paul Hainsworth picked up an incredible 10th title in 11 years after battling through a hard-fought encounter over 7-time champion Phil Ogier.

The tournament itself is a throwback to the olden days in that as well as the pimple bats being used, the previous scoring system of 21 points is used. The other notable difference is that the old 38mm ball is used as opposed to the current 40mm ball that is used for all local, national and international table tennis competitions.

Mark Kilby was a talented young table tennis player who tragically passed away in the early 1980’s. Mark’s parents Barry and Val arranged to have his table tennis bat dipped in silver and mounted as the trophy for the winner of the newly launched tournament when it was first contested in 1984. They come down to the centre each year to watch the annual event and also present the trophy at the climax of the tournament.

As noted previously the event is a popular one and is always well supported by the Guernsey Table Tennis Association Members and it was no different this time with a bumper entry of 33 competitors all relishing the opportunity of trying their luck with the hard bats across 11 groups.

The tournament can throw up some unexpected results, however the initial group stages did not yield many shocks with all of the expected higher Division players qualifying as either group winner or group runner-up. Caden Brouard did however push leading 1st Division player and runner-up in this event for the past 3 seasons, Joshua Stacey to a third and deciding end before being edged 21-18. The youngster still managed to qualify as runner-up due to his straight sets win over fellow junior Shelby Timms.

The first round saw a few notable scalps Brouard was the first to obtain one due to his impressive straight sets win against Martin Sarre. Oscar Pearson had a good win of his own over Craig Dunning in straight sets, whilst Chas Elliott defeated 1st Division player Steve Ozanne. It was a good evening for the young players and Jayden Tucknott started his impressive run at the tournament with a 2-1 win over the tricky Steve Martin.

The youngers continued their strong march with another pair of scalps in the Last 16. Brouard was a comfortable straight sets winner over a quality hard bat player in Derek Webb, whilst Tucknott went one better with a superb 2-1 win over 1st Division player Ryan Gilson, who is also very adept in this form of the game. The other notable clash in this round saw Lawrence Stacey defeat fellow Division 1 player Sam Clark 2-1 in a high-quality encounter.

Brouard and Tucknott met in the Quarter finals and it was a good match which ended as a narrow 3 set win for Brouard. A repeat of the previous 3 finals saw Hainsworth brush past Josh Stacey, Ogier ended the good run of Pearson in straight sets and Ben Foss battled past Lawrence in 3 sets.

Foss started his semi final strongly against Hainsworth and led throughout. This included the only set points of the night against the champion, who managed to sneak it 24-22. The early stages of the 2nd remained tight before Hainsworth put together a strong finish to take it 21-14. Brouard’s excellent evening could not enable him to get past the extremely steady defensive abilities of Ogier who won comfortably.

Despite Ogier’s excellent record at this event, this was the first time he was competing in this tournament since 2011. There had been no signs of rust in him reaching the final with a paltry 11 points the most he had conceded in any leg on the way.

The first point of the final set the tone for the rest of the match as it was a lengthy rally with Hainsworth playing rolled forehand attacking strokes and Ogier retrieving well from the back of the court. Hainsworth opened up a large lead and looked comfortable during the early stages but was unable to fully pull away and in the end closed out a tight 21-17 end. Ogier started the second with strong intent and led for the majority of the first half of the set. Hainsworth pulled it back and it remained back and forth for the remainder. Hainsworth had too much firepower in the end and closed the match 21-18 at the second time of asking and concluding table tennis action for 2020.

The Doric Insurance sponsored senior leagues re-commence on Wednesday 6th January 2021.