Gattis takes title

TABLE TENNIS: Dave Gattiss is the new Britannia Top 16 Invitation champion after beating Suffolk star Paul Cicchelli to take the 2002 title.

DAVE Gattiss is the new Britannia Top 16 Invitation champion after beating Suffolk star Paul Cicchelli to take the 2002 title.

After two years as the title-holder, Lincolnshire No. 1 Andy Wignall was deposed in thrilling circumstances in the quarter-finals of this year's event.

The group stages of the competition – held at Ipswich's Britannia Dome – saw players pitted against each other in round-robin groups to determine where they would be placed in the draw.

The event was played under the new international scoring system of 11 up, best of five sets, with the final the best of seven sets.

In Group 1 for the second year, Ipswich's Andrew Dosher was drawn in the same group as Wignall, along with Kevin Gray and Richard Ingle.

Wignall comfortably beat Gray 3-0 in the first match, while Dosher just got the better of Ingle in four sets.

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Wignall against Dosher went the distance as Dosher just went down 11-9 in the fifth, while Gray was too consistent for Ingle, winning 3-0 in their match.

This meant the match between Dosher and Gray would decide who qualified for the championship draw along with Wignall.

Unfortunately for Gray, Dosher

benefited from numerous nets and edges to qualify with a 3-0 victory.

In Group 2 Cicchelli got under way with a comprehensive 3-0 win over Andy Holmes and Steve Kerns beat Michael Wright by the same score.

In the battle of the number one and two ranked players in the group it was the less-fancied Kerns who emerged triumphant against Cicchelli (3-1).

Cicchelli qualified as the second player in the group courtesy of victory over Wright, who also went down to Holmes.

In Group 3, one of the favourites, Martin Gray, powered his way to three wins over Gattiss (3-1), Andy Warner (3-0) and Nigel Hodder (3-0).

Gattis qualified for the main draw with two 3-0 wins over the other pair while Warner emerged a 3-1 winner against Hodder.

In Group Four, fourth seed Ryan Keates appeared to be on his way to qualification as he beat Ian Brown in a titanic struggle 11-9 in the fith and then led Richard Hutchinson 2-0 before allowing his advantage to slip and losing 3-2.

In his last match with Mick Palmer, Keates began to develop a muscle spasm towards the end of the second set and he eventually lost 3-0.

With Hutchinson winning his games against Brown and Palmer – both by a 3-0 scoreline – he won the group. The second place went to Palmer on countback as the other three players had all won one game each,.

Unfortunately Keates failed to qualify for the main draw and conceded the rest of his play-off matches.

The first quarter-final pitted county champion Cicchelli against current champion Wignall.

Cicchelli's stern defence with occasional attacks saw him take the first two sets before Wignall responded to take the next two and led at 9-7 in the fifth.

But Cicchelli showed a lot of composure to turn the match around again and after a desperate last rally forced a mistake from Wignall's attack to take the decider.

The upset of the event happened in the second quarter-final where serious contender Gray went down 3-0 to Palmer, who contained the best of his opponents attacks, blocking Gray around the table to win easily.

If Dosher was fortunate against Gray in his group match, then Lady Luck was against him in his quarter-final against Hutchinson as he suffered an average of five nets a game to go down to a thrice of nines – his opponent clearly embarrassed by his good fortune!

Kerns took on Gattiss in the final quarter-final clash and found his opponent too powerful, losing out in four sets.

The first semi-final pitted Cicchelli against Palmer and the former not surprising won in straight sets as Palmer's style of play was not suited to the defensive game, although he went down gamely 8, 9 and 6.

After losing the first set to Hutchinson, Gattis showed coolness under pressure as he came close to going two sets down. He responded with some power hitting and, with his tail up, won the next two sets at 6 and 8.

Before the final, Hutchinson again repeated his success over Palmer to win the third and fourth place play-off.

As in the group match, Palmer – ill at ease with his opponent's combination bat – lost 3-0.

The final belonged to Gattiss who probably deserved his victory as the most consistent performer on the day.

The manner in which he dealt with Cicchelli's combination bat was

particularly impressive.

Cicchelli struggled with his opponent's serve and third ball but the rallies were often thrilling.

The third and fourth sets were close, Gattis looping sometimes six and seven balls on the trot to force a mistake or opportunity.

In the fifth set Gattis was simply too strong and he eventually triumphed 4-1 to take the crown.


Final: David Gattiss bt Paul Cicchelli 10, -4, 9, 10, 7.

Play-offs: 3rd/4th: Richard Hutchinson bt Mick Palmer 9, 8, 9. 5th/6th: Andy Wignall bt Andrew Dosher 6, 5, 9. 7th/8th: Martin Gray bt Steve Kerns -8, 8, -10, 7, 13. 9th/10th: Andy Warner bt Ian Brown 8, 5, 7. 11th/12th: Kevin Gray bt Nigel Hodder -8, 6, 4, -6, 3. 13th/14th: Andy Holmes bt Michael Wright 8, 8, 16. 15th/16th: Richard Ingle bt Matthew Holland 6, 4, 5.