BROOK MANOR A and Woodfield Park A put on a marvellous display of table tennis befitting two of the top four teams in the Huddersfield League, and once again the outstanding individual performance came from the losing team.
Woodfield Park A, setting their sights on the Division I title, fought brilliantly to win the match 6-4 with every member of the team contributing to their success,.
But outstanding on the night was Brook’s Russell Senior, who had three singles victories without dropping a game.
In the 20 or more years that he has been playing top table tennis, he has never been more positive, more powerful or more dominant. His backhand and forehand topspin hitting was accurate, persistent and effective, while his forehand kill of the “high ball” was turbo charged.
The opening set between Senior and Mike Belk was fast and furious. Belk’s style of blocking, acute angles and hits straight from the bounce, lead to that kind of game, but try as he might he couldn’t stop the topspin backhands and the flowing forehand strokes that we have come to associate with Senior, who won 11-6, 11-6, 11-7. Without taking anything away from Belk, the result was never in doubt.
Senior’s next match was against Mark Pugh, a more resolute player with a rock-solid defence and a forehand hit responsible for many a burst ball. Pugh was second in last season’s Merit Table and had an average of over 84%, yet he couldn’t stem the tidal wave that was Senior, who was relentless, powerful and brave when he needed to be.
Senior took the set 11-7, 11-9, 11-9 and was headed only once at 9-7 in the third game.
This was where his bravery came in, going for his shots with the confidence he had at the start of the set.
Finally, against David Wood, another rock-solid defender but with less of the attacking power, he triumphed 11-3, 11-9, 11-6. Yet another set played at great speed with magnificent hitting by Senior on both wings, though his forehand was dynamite.
To heap praise on the strength of the attacker can only mean that the quality of the defence of both Wood and Pugh brought out the best in their opponent.
This was certainly true, for it is some time since the sustained quality of play over the whole evening has given me so much pleasure.
Having been beaten by a better man on the night, the Woodfield Park trio set about winning the match. Belk edged out Alan Rennison 11-5, 11-8, 9-11, 14-12 having just failed to beat Neil Crosland, also in four. It was Belk’s guile and quick hitting of the half volley which did the damage, but after a slow start Crosland (4-0 down in the first) rallied making good use of his service and forehand hitting down his opponent’s backhand to win 11-7, 11-8, 10-12, 11-6.
After a minor blemish in the second game, Wood comfortably beat Rennsion 11-8, 11-13, 11-5, 11-3, and followed this up with a cracking 3-2 victory over Crosland thanks to his battling defence.
Pugh also put paid to Crosland in three straight games, 11-8, 11-4, 11-8. It was a ding-dong battle but whenever Pugh looked in the slightest difficulty he put up the shutters. Rennsion, however, pushed him harder and took a game before succumbing 3-1.
With the doubles to be played, the score stood 5-4 to Woodfield Park and what a fight Brooks put up before losing out 1-11, 11-5, 11-6, 4-11, 7-11 having been 7-6 up in the final game.
There can be nothing but praise for both teams, but Woodfield Park certainly deserved the laurels.