Senior Group Tournament
Post date: Oct 01, 2019 7:50:36 PM
24 players took part in the GTTA’s first KO competition of the season - the Senior Group Singles, which provided good entertainment across the board. Championship honours went to evergreen Phil Ogier, who won the tournament for a record 11th time (having first won it in 1996). He took on Lawrence Stacey in a superbly fought final, which provided spectators a feast of spectacular rallies.
Stacey’s route to the final saw him win Group A in the round robin. In the first round of the knockout stages, he took a bye - before going on to defeat Ryan Richard 3 straight in the quarter final.
Paul Hainsworth was to provide somewhat sterner opposition to Stacey in their semi-final match. Unfortunately, Hainsworth didn’t quite have the fire-power or the flair to overcome Stacey, succumbing to the latter 11-9, 11-8, 11-8.
Stacey’s coup de grace in the last point of the last set had onlookers drooling. An instinctive, trade-mark, behind-the back return completely wrong-footed Hainsworth, who had no choice but to gracefully concede defeat. Ogier’s route to the final saw him overcome a 1-0 deficit to Dan Collenette before beating him 3-1 in their quarter final match. Collenette had done well previously in the the first round of the KO when he overcome a 2-0 deficit to eventually beat Andy Gill 3-2.Ogier’s opponent in the semi-final was the talented Ben Foss. Foss beat Steve Ozanne three straight in the quarter final. The semi-final was a much taller order for Foss who on this occasion didn’t have the patience or the endurance to overcome Ogier’s fantastic shot retrieval and play-making. Ogier blocks well from both sides of the table. His ability to keep the ball on the table, using deceptively variable spin, close-up, or at at distance, continually forces errors from frustrated opponents, wearing them down. Despite the wonderful quality of Foss’s shots, Ogier’s greater patience and focus saw him eventually beat the younger player in five games: 11-8, 5-11, 12-10, 6-11, 11-3. Going in to face Stacey - Ogier - older by two decades, had played more games and his fitness was going to be sorely tested. Asked what his mindset was for the final, Ogier said: ‘to keep breathing.’
Ogier lost the first game to Stacey by 12-10, but took the second, apparently easily by 11-4 before losing the third 11-7. All the wins were coming from one end of the table and this proved to be the case in the fourth with Ogier 1-2 down, now drawing level, winning the game 11-6.
In the fifth and final game, Ogier took a one point lead to swap ends at 5-4, going on to win 11-7.
The game had some spectacular away from the table rallies with Stacey working to attack Ogier’s back hand and forehand sides, forcing him wide, to create space for an array of winning shots which, when they came off, were spectacular. But Ogier’s patience and strategy held, taking clean winners when he could - including a couple of masterful attacking blocks - but more often forcing his opponent into making errors.
Picking the moment to kill the ball is far harder when you’re playing well away from the table - and as Lawrence found out on this occasion, especially someone like Ogier - who retrieves well most of the time knows because he knows exactly where the ball is going to go.
The final game saw a crescendo of rallies with both players going for broke but Ogier edged the mental battle and he ran out the deserved winner.