KINGSMITH hit the jackpot this week.
First, their B team beat their F team by three points (420-417) in the final of the Huddersfield Table Tennis League’s Greens Express Transport Ltd Handicap Knockout competition.
And then, to put the icing on the cake, two days later the F team defeated Brooks B by five points (400-395) in the Concorde Handicap Trophy Final.
Two great competitions, two wonderful finals, the Greens Express competition held under the old rules of two games, 21-up and five services, and the Concorde Trophy under the new format of four games, 11-up and only two services.
Quite different in concept but not an ounce of difference on the finished product, the desire and determination of the contestants.
On both occasions, the atmosphere was electric.
The quality of play and the bravery of the players was quite remarkable, and whilst being pleased for the winners, one could not help feeling a touch of sorrow for the losers, but proud of how they accepted defeat.
Kingsmith B won their match by just three points, the lead having changed hands seven times.
Janet Adams, on -2 handicap, was the B team’s rock, giving them a six-point lead in the opening set, and turning a three-point deficit in the final set into a three-point win.
In between, she dropped seven points to an inspired Jack Farrar, but was +5 on the night.
If Adams was the rock, it was Peter Fox’s speed and blocking, hitting and counter-hitting to gain 13 points overall, who was undoubtedly the B teams’ leading light.
Winning, however, is usually the product of team work, and so it was on this occasion.
Though dropping 15 points on the night, John Langfield’s recovery in his second game against Farrar was quite significant. Having dropped 10 points (after handicap) in this first game, and conceding seven points handicap per game, he recovered from 10-15 down to win 21-18.
Even so, Farrar who was the F team’s most successful player, finished with a gain of 20 points, dropping one to Fox but taking seven from Adams and 14 from Langfield.
Having lost one final, the question was how would Kingsmith F, a team of juniors aged 15 and 16, react in their second final two days later to another Division I team. The answer was positively and brilliantly, but certainly was not easy.
The Brooks B team of Shaun Ellis, Philip Schofield and Stuart Sykes fought them every inch of the way.
Heavily handicapped, as befits their status, with Ellis on -4 and the Kingsmith trio of Jack Woodhead, Oliver Shaw and Jack Farrar on 28, 30 and 30 respectively, Shaun Ellis gave Brooks B a one-point lead after the first set. After five sets that lead had crept up to 18 points, with both Shaw and Woodhead having had eight point victories.
From that moment, Brooks progressively pulled the score back, Sykes by six points, then Schofield by seven, until at last Ellis was up against Shaw.
With a 34-point handicap deficit, Ellis had to restrict Shaw to just four points to force a draw.
Needless to say, he could not quite manage it, but along the way there were some spectacular Ellis backhands, and some great blocking and countering by Shaw.
Stuart Sykes was Brooks’s most successful player, picking up five points overall, with Woodhead gaining eight and Shaw three for the winners.