Hutchinson serves up county triumph

TABLE TENNIS: The top table tennis players in Suffolk battled for seven titles at the Suffolk closed senior championships at Stowupland.In the morning, a new event open to both men and woman kicked off proceedings, named the open singles.

THE top table tennis players in Suffolk battled for seven titles at the Suffolk closed senior championships at Stowupland.

In the morning, a new event open to both men and woman kicked off proceedings, named the open singles.

The difference was the scoring structure – up to 11 and best of five sets while all the other events remained up to 21 and best of three sets.

Like its counterparts, the men's and restricted singles, groups were a prelude to where players were placed in the draw.

There were some initial seeding upsets as in group three Sandra Balaam upset Rex Manning to qualify, while Colin Baxter beat Gary Bloomfield in their group.

In the first round, Dave Halliday caused an upset by beating Ian Brown in four sets.

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In the semi-finals in one of the best games of the day Richard Hutchinson came from 0-2 and 2-5 down to beat Andrew Warner, while in the other Andrew Dosher survived a late onslaught from Lee Balaam to take the fourth set at deuce.

The final was a tight affair, which so often happens between these two and went the distance as Hutchinson beat Dosher 11-8 in the decider.

The restricted singles produced a number of shocks as both the number one and two seeds, Warner and Gary Bloomfield, went out in the first round. Ken Lewis produced perhaps his greatest victory over eventual men's finalist Warner, while Phil Sinclair not only accounted for Bloomfield but also Halliday.

In the semis, Michael Wright proved too strong for Vickey Gray, while Sinclair eventually went down to John Tallant.

In the final, a thrilling encounter saw Wright save match points in the second set but succumbed to the gritty defensive game of his opponent, in fact Tallant will no doubt cause concern for the Suffolk ranking committee as in also reaching the singles semi-final without any kind of competition history, he has to be considered for a top-eight place.

The women's singles this year was decided by a group round-robin system due to the unavailability of a number of players.

Sandra Balaam upset the seedings, proving too good for the other players, Gray, Carol Clarke and Sonja Talbot. Only Clarke was able to take a leg off her.

In the women's doubles final Gray teamed up with Talbot to beat Balaam and Clarke 18 and 19.

The mixed event was won by Hutchinson and Gray, who triumphed over Hodder and Talbot.

In the men's event, the groups produced no shocks, but at the first-round stage Tallant upset Andrew Holmes. Tallant then went on to cause a major upset by knocking out last year's runner-up and No 4 seed, Brown, in the quarter-finals.

No 1 seed Paul Ciccelli beat Balaam in two sets while Dosher survived a second set mauling by Hodder to eventually go through.

Warner played superbly to knock out defending champion Hutchinson 19 and 20 to avenge his earlier loss.

In the first semi, Dosher, after taking the first set off Warner, was always struggling with the relentless power of his opponent and succumbed at 12 in the decider, Cicchelli in the other won the first set at 18 over Tallant but had to sweat in the second after being taken to deuce before winning.

The final was won by Cicchelli who benefited by being fresher having not played in the open singles and acquitted himself well against the man who had beaten the No. 2, 3 and 5 seeds during the day.

Even had Warner been fresher he would still have found life difficult against a man who last year played in the Premier Division of the British National League.

Cicchelli nosed in front and with his defensive web gave Warner little opportunity to attack cleanly. This being the case Cicchelli won the first at 17.

In the second set, Cicchelli ran away with it, forcing numerous errors and attacking at whim to take the title for the second time in three years.

In the men's doubles final, top seeds Nigel Hodder and Ian Brown beat No. 2 seeds Hutchinson and Bloomfield in a tough three-ender.

The under-21s singles was won on a round-robin basis by Gary Bloomfield.

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