Norfolk's Mclean takes Top 16 title

TWO late inclusions to this year's top 16 event - Norfolk's Ian Mclean and Essex's Peter Hayden - made this year's event stronger adding some strength to the tournament and, in the end, providing the winner.

TWO late inclusions to this year's top 16 event - Norfolk's Ian Mclean and Essex's Peter Hayden - made this year's event stronger adding some strength to the tournament and, in the end, providing the winner.

The first half of the day's play was based around a round robin event with four groups of four players at the Britannia Table Tennis Club in Ipswich.

In group one the matches were fairly routine as Ian Mclean, the number one seed, and Fred Dove, seeded five, came first and second respectively to qualify for the championship section.

It wasn't all plain sailing for the pair though, as Cambridgshire's Martin Freeland had caused Mclean a few problems taking the second leg in their game, while Jon Hill had taken the third leg against Dove in their encounter.

In group two Mark Lewis pushed Andrew Dosher all the way coming from 2-0 down to lead 3-0 in the decider before going down, while in the battle for first and second Dosher took the first leg off number two seed Andy Wignall before losing 3-1.

Group three was thrown into turmoil as it finished with three players all winning one game and losing two games with number three seed Dave Cole winning all his matches as group winner.

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After beating Gary Young 3-1 Andrew Warner had gone down 3-2 to Norfolk's Rod Hamilton, fortunately for Warner, Young beat Hamilton 3-2 and after a countback Warner went through.

In the fourth group there were two outstanding matches. Hayden went 2-0 down to Brown in convincing style but started to play the defensive style better and won the next two sets just as easily, in a tight finish it was Hayden that won 11-9.

In the final match Hayden completed three wins in his group beating former champion Martin Gray in a seeding upset by 3-1.

In the first quarter final Mclean was a convincing

3-0 winner over Warner where the class of the former Scottish international really showed.

In the second quarter it swung both ways as Hayden got off to a good start over Dosher, but Dosher reeled off a number of points at the end of the second to take it seven, and in the third set Dosher ran away with it. Hayden however eventually steamed the tide with some deft touches to win 3-2.

The third quarter also went to five sets as big hitters Gray and Cole both went for their big shots as this game also twisted like an eel, Cole saved games points in the third set, but then had to admit to being second best, Gray forcing a number of errors to win eight in the fifth.

In the fourth quarter Wignall played the pimpled bat of Dove comfortable to win 3-0

In the semis Mclean proved too consistent for Hayden winning 3-0, though Hayden pushed him all the way in the first set, while in the other semi Wignal came through against Gray 3-1.

Before the final Gray got revenge for his group defeat by Hayden, in the play-offs for third and fourth, played in a good atmosphere. Hayden again showed his coolness of blocking to force a fifth end but Gray ran out a comfortable winner in the decider.

In the final Mclean was looking to go one better than he did seven years ago when in the first top 16 final he went down to Chinese player Brook Zhen Shea, while Wignall was looking to make it three wins in this event.

Mclean started off positively looping consistently and powerfully from difficult angles to take the first set at four. Wignall got closer in the next set but such was Mclean's quality that the feeling was that even when he went behind he was always able to come back reeling off a number of points, which proved to be the case.

This was the pattern in the third set with Mclean's pace and quality in rallying a constant threat, and he finally won the final 11-4 11-9 11-9 to become this season's top 16 champion.

Results round-up

Quarter finals: Mclean beat Warner 2 4 8, Hayden beat Dosher 4 -7 -2 7 4, Gray beat Cole -6 6 -11 6 8, Wignall beat Dove 5 3 8

Semi finals: Mclean beat Hayden 11 4 6, Wignall beat Gray 4 8 -9 6

Final: Ian Mclean beat Andy Wignall 4 9 9

3rd & 4th: Martin Gray beat Peter Hayden -7 7 6 -8 3

5th & 6th: Dave Cole beat Andrew Warner 6 9 9

7th & 8th: Andrew Dosher beat Fred Dove -6 8 7 6

9th &10th: Ian Brown beat Ken Lewis 5 10 -4 9

11th & 12th: Andrew Holmes beat Rob Hamilton 5 9 -5 -13 7

13th & 14th: Jon Hill beat Gary Young -5 6 10 8

15th & 16th: Martin Freeland beat Mark Lewis -7 6 6 10

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