Post date: Oct 27, 2020 9:51:32 PM
Ben Foss has retained the Whistlers Open title with a thrilling 3-2 win over in-form Lawrence Stacey in the final.
The Whistlers Open is one of the newer tournaments in the GTTA calendar, having only started in 2003, but the trophy already has an impressive list of island table tennis greats engraved with the likes of Mark Pipet, Phil Ogier, Garry Dodd and Alice Loveridge featuring as past winners.
A new format was being trialled by Whistlers Club this year with a 3-player round robin instead of the usual 4 players with the top 2 from each group progressing. Although this produced some interesting matchups, the 9 seeded players all progressed with relative ease, the biggest shock being that Division 1 player Sam Clark was knocked out by the improving Brandon Ferbrache from Division 3. In the round of 16, veteran Chas Elliot produced a marvellous performance against Ryan Gilson before eventually losing 12-10 in the final game, the veteran's hard bat style rubbers and powerful backhand proving a stern test for his young opponent.
The quarter and semi-finals all proceeded as expected, and while top seed Lawrence Stacey looked in good attacking form to beat Phil Ogier 3-1, 2nd-ranked Josh Stacey went down to Foss 13-15, 11-5, 11-8, 11-6. The final saw Lawrence Stacey, whose sole win in this tournament was in 2013 at the relatively young age of 17, against Foss who claimed the crown last season. It was Foss, still in the groove from his semi-final win, who came out of the blocks quickly and cruised through the first game and then took a healthy lead in the second. The variety of 3rd-ball attacks and powerful forehand loops was causing Stacey issues, but an edge ball stemmed the tide. Foss' confidence seemed to vanish as he went down 11-9 and then in the subsequent game 11-5. Had bookmakers had been in attendance, Stacey would have been at very short odds to wrap up his 3rd consecutive senior tournament victory in this new season, but Foss showed remarkable resolve to make the comeback. A combination of self-composure and renewed attacking vigour saw him claw his way back from a 4-point deficit to take the match to a deciding end. An equally topsy turvy final game ensued, with rallies becoming more tentative as both players tried to reduce the number of unforced errors, but ultimately it was Foss who ground out the win 11-6, 9-11, 5-11, 11-9, 11-9.