‘Fast’ Phil snaps up table tennis title
TABLE tennis enthusiasts from all over Ulster converged on Ballymena Academy on Saturday to participate in the rescheduled 2012 Ballymena Table Tennis Open.
The qualifying competition commenced with six groups each containing four or five players. To qualify for the Open Singles the players had to win or finish runner-up in their group. Those finishing outside the top two were entered into the Class 2 event.
In Group 1 the top seed “Fast” Phil Wallace (Queen’s) emerged unscathed to finish first with Carrick’s Brian Martin a credible runner-up.
Group 2 had no surprises with second seed Academy Strongtower’s Mark McAllister first and Belfast’s Andrew Loane second.
Group 3 had County Antrim League singles champion Richard Davies top the group with Donegal’s Paul Gallagher in second spot.
A very competitive Group 4 was topped by Ballyclare’s Andrew Davies who managed to see off determined challenges from Fivemiletown’s Annalise Walker, Belfast’s Adrian Petris and Ballymoney’s Paul McGuiggan. Walker had the consolation of second place.
Group 5 had fifth seed Ballyclare’s Gary Crawford finish top with Academy Strongtower’s Norman McBride snatching second spot courtesy of an unexpected four set victory over the fancied Mark Gordon from Belfast.
Group 6 had Ian Davies, the third of the table tennis mad Davies family, qualify in top spot with Ahoghill’s Peter Neeson clinching second spot over the redoubtable Jimmy O’Hara.
The 12 qualifiers for the Open then formed two groups of six with the winner and runner-up of each group progressing to the semi-finals.
The first group of six proved exceptionally close with first and second spot being decided by count back.
Gary Crawford produced the first upset by defeating top seed Philip Wallace 12-10 in the fifth set. However Crawford in turn lost out to Andrew Davies also 12-10 in the fifth set.
Philip Wallace then defeated Davies in straight sets 11-8, 16-14, 11-3 to clinch top spot in the group. Crawford by stint of winning more sets grabbed the runner-up spot with a dejected Andrew Davies in third. In fourth spot was Paul Gallagher with two wins, Andrew Loane was fifth with one win and Peter Neeson was sixth.
The second group of six proved more straight forward with Richard Davies topping the group undefeated with five wins and Brian Martin taking second spot with four wins. Third went to Ian Davies with three wins and fourth spot went to an injured second seed Mark McAllister with just two wins. Annalise Walker was fifth with one win and Norman McBride sixth also with one win.
Both semi-finals were excellent exhibitions of attacking table tennis. In the first semi-final Philip Wallace proved too powerful for Brian Martin with his excellent forehand loops penetrating the Martin defence. Wallace took the semi-final in straight sets 11-5, 11-7 and 11-5. Wallace was joined in the final by Gary Crawford who defeated Richard Davies 11-7, 11-5 and 11-5.
The final was a four set thriller Crawford looking set to record his second win of the competition over Wallace when he comfortably took the first set 11-7. But Wallace showed why he was top seed as some powerful play helped him to take the next three sets 11-7, 11-8 and 11-7, claiming his first Ballymena Open title.
The Class 2 tournament had four groups with the top two players in each group securing a quarter final berths. Group 1 was won by Coleraine’s Anselm Brankin with local lad Jonny Moore edging passed club mate Jonny Wilson to claim second.
Group 2 was won by Carnmoney’s Peter Martin with Fivemiletown’s Megan Carson clinching second from Academy Strongtower’s ever improving Steven Balmer.
Group 3 was won by Mark Gordon with Adrian Petris defeating Academy Strongtower’s Kyle Bones in the showdown for second place.
The final group was won by Coleraine’s James Dillon with Academy Strongtower’s Peter McCrum taking second spot with great wins over club mates Jimmy O’Hara and Ryan Herbison.
In the quarter finals Anselm Brankin defeated Peter McCrum in four sets 11-6, 7-11, 11-8 and 11-6, Adrian Petris defeated Peter Martin 11-7, 11-4, 11-9, James Dillon defeated the much improved Jonny Moore 8-11,9-11,11-5, 11-9 and 13-11 and Mark Gordon powered passed Megan Carson 11-8, 11-6 and 11-8.
Two tight four set semi finals saw Petris defeat Brankin 11-8, 10-12, 11-7 and 11-9, while Gordon defeated Dillon 11-3, 8-11, 11-7 and 11-6.
An explosive final was guaranteed as the two players had met in a cracking five setter earlier with Gordon winning 11-9 in the fifth. But just as happened in the Open past performance stood for nought as Petris turned the tables on Gordon winning three tight sets 14-12, 11-8 and 11-9.
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Weather for Ballymena
Saturday 18 May 2013
Temperature: 9 C to 11 C
Wind Speed: 16 mph
Wind direction: North west
Temperature: 8 C to 16 C
Wind Speed: 7 mph
Wind direction: South east