Ping Pong Championship

Post date: Apr 11, 2021 10:58:52 PM

Paul Hainsworth proved he is king of the sandpaper bat once again at the Guernsey Table Tennis Centre on Saturday afternoon with victory in the annual Ping Pong Challenge. The ever-popular tournament is played with blue sandpaper bats and in its previous guise, the winner qualified to take part in Barry Hearn’s World Championship of Ping Pong, held at the Ally Pally and televised on Sky Sports. However the Channel Islands’ automatic qualification spot was removed in 2018, primarily due to the increase in entries from high quality Chinese players and Mick Ingrouille has taken up the task of organising the local replacement event each year since.

Sandpaper bats can only impart a little spin on the ball, reducing the advantage of the top players, which this means that entries are received from individual from across the GTTA leagues. In other variations to standard table tennis rules, if a game score reaches 10-10, a sudden-death point is played and player can nominate one ‘golden ball’ point per match, whereby if they win that next rally, they are awarded an extra bonus point. With only 4 seeded players, the draw for the round-robin stage can be tricky and Group D looked to a particular be a group of death, with a roster of good players including the seasoned hard bat regulars Ken Falla and Craig Dunning, 2019 champion Dan Collenette and Island Championship Men's runner-up, Ben Foss. Indeed it was this group where most of the pivotal matches occurred and returning university student Collenette was surprisingly eliminated, finishing in 6th place overall. Young Caden Brouard showed great patience and skill in winning all his matches and surprisingly topping the group for the loss of only 2 ends. The presence of only 4 seeds meant that the draw for the next round, conducted live by GTTA President Derek Webb, was tense as each player waited to find out their next opponent. Pick of the round was Island Games teammates Lawrence Stacey and Ben Foss being drawn together and Stacey held his nerve to progress in 3 ends. Sam Clark also had a tense match in coming back from a game down to beat the lively Oscar Pearson 11-10 in the decider.

Hainsworth accounted for Clark in the next round and then the dangerous Lawrence Stacey in the semi-final, while on the other half of the draw, top seed Josh Stacey was getting into the groove and attacking consistently to overcome the patience of Brouard to win 11-8, 11-6. The final pitted the two most attacking players from the tournament together with barely a backspin or defensive shot in sight. Hainsworth was at his ruthless best and easily won the first game 11-2, before Stacey came back strongly to battle hard and get to 10-10 before losing the decisive point after a long rally. Hainsworth cleared his mind well and reset for the 3rd game, attacking even more consistently on the forehand to limit Stacey’s own attacks and despite effective use of the golden ball from his opponent, won 11-2, 11-10, 11-5 to claim his first Ping Pong title since 2018. Jayden Tucknott won the plate trophy with a 2-1 win over Richard Edwards.