St Pauls Handicap
Post date: Sep 17, 2019 8:20:44 PM
Joseph Bourgaize got the new table tennis season started yesterday by claiming the first available trophy - the St Pauls Handicap Singles. In a match that finished well after 11pm, he came from a game down to beat Ben Foote 2-1 in the final.
The 'St Pauls' is a popular event that attracts table tennis players of all ages and abilities from across the GTTA leagues although by a quirk of the handicapping system, the trophy has been won by a 1st Division player every year since 2008, when 4th Division Christine Brassell claimed the title.
Bourgaize was playing his last matches before returning to study at Southampton University and struggled a little early on, losing his first match in Group B to Craig Dunning, conceding only a 1 point start to the dangerous Division 2 player. However he improved as the evening progressed, with subsequent wins over Derek Cave and Mick Ingrouille to progress tot e knock outs. From there he had a reasonably serene passage to the semi-finals where he came across the in-form Ravenscroft Panthers stalwart Robin Vile. For much of the match, Vile managed to frustrate his younger opponent and kept the ball short and low over the net to prevent Bourgaize from playing his signature attacking loops. At deuce in the final game, Bourgaize held his nerve well to open up with a top-spin attack and win 22-20, 15-21, 23-21
In the other half of the draw, Foote was having some closer encounters, being pushed hard in the group stage by the fast-improving fourth Division regular Oscar Pearson, winning deuce in the final end, and then in the first round by the veteran Chas Elliott. After a 2-0 win against Dunning, the semi-final was played against 2019 Island Champion Lawrence Stacey and featured some excellent attacking rallies and blocks from both players, with Foote eventually coming through 21-23, 21-12, 21-19.
Foote started with an 8-point advantage in the final and was able to block and counter-hit well in taking in the first game. Bourgaize changed his tactics to good effect and introduced a greater variety of shots along with some good serving and ensured a new name on the trophy to start the season. The Doric Insurance Senior Leagues commence this week, with the next tournament being the Senior Group trophy on Monday 30th September.