The English Leagues Cup Competitions Finals saw a fitting tribute to 80 years of the Wilmott Cup with some superb play, close matches and lots of passion and pleasure over the two days.
To celebrate the 80 years commemorative mugs and souvenir programmes were provided to all competitors at the finals weekend on June 13 & 14, 2015, and were very well received.
Details of the programme which gives information on the history of both the Wilmott Cup and JM Rose Bowl, as well as what was happening in the ETTA in 1935 and other historical information can be found by clicking here.
Wilmott Cup (Men)
The day started with the No 1 seeds Leamington Spa up against Central London C. After the fourth game it was 2-2 but Leamington took the last game for the win. The second match in that group saw a similar 3-2 scoreline, with Reading beating Leeds.
In Round 2, both scores were again 3-2, this time Reading and Leeds were the victors over Central London C and Leamington Spa respectively.
Round 3 also saw the same scorelines, all matches being won 3-2, with Reading taking their third win to top the group and Central London C gaining their first victory. So, a three-way countback to decide the final group positions which went down to the number of games won. The final group placings were Reading 1st, Leamington Spa 2nd, Central London C 3rd and Leeds 4th.
Meanwhile, on the adjacent tables many similarly close games were taking place. Sheffield, the No 2 seeds, struggled against the Bristol team in their first match and lost by a surprising 4-1. In the other match in this group Guildford defeated Central London B 3-2.
Round 2 saw Central London C gain a 3-2 victory over Bristol and Sheffield crept past Guildford for the win in the fifth game.
In the final round in the group, Sheffield hit another gear to overcome Central London B 5-0 with Guildford having their second 3-2, win this time against Bristol. Final group placings: Sheffield 1st, Guildford 2nd, London Central B 3rd and Bristol 4th.
The two top teams, Sheffield and Reading, faced each other for the title and the trophy. Sheffield went 2-0 up thanks to Warren Li Kam Wa and Michael Fraser, winning their two singles. The doubles went to Reading and then Michael Fraser played a captain’s part to take the fourth and the championship.
Guildford had a straight 3-0 win over Leamington Spa to take the bronze medal. London pride was at stake in the derby between the two Central London teams. The final honours went to the B team but only after a titanic struggle which resulted in four games going to four and one to five. Meanwhile, Leeds were defeating Bristol by 3-1 for seventh position.
So many games were so close and but for a few points in many matches the play-off matches could have been in a totally different order. All teams won matches and all teams lost matches with Sheffield, the eventual winners, losing to the team who finished eighth, such was the margin between all the teams.
Sheffield: Mike Fraser, David Thompson, Warren Li Kam Wa
Reading: Hari Gehlot, Daniel Moses
Guildford: Chris Bush, Adam Laws
Leamington Spa: Matthew Outhwaite, Ryan Stockham, James Ward
Central London B: Kevin Kan, Andreas Pusch, Hoang Vu
Central London C: Fabien Mauroy, Javier Sanchez
Leeds: Simon Pugh, Richard Smith
Bristol: Martin Gunn, Dave Reeves
JM Rose Bowl (Ladies)
Leeds ladies, the No 1 seeds and winner of the trophy in 2013, started their campaign to regain the trophy with a 5-0 victory over Tamworth whilst Leicester, by a narrow margin, defeated Guildford 3-2.
Round 2, and Leeds continued their winning ways by defeating Guildford 4-1 and Tamworth had a good 4-1 win over Leicester in the longest match of the day.
In the third round, Leeds made it a hat-trick of wins, defeating Leicester 4-1, whilst Tamworth gained their second win, just edging Guildford 3-2. Final group placings: Leeds 1st, Tamworth 2nd, Leicester 3rd, Guildford 4th.
No 2 seeds Bristol started well with a 4-1 over Brighton, and Warrington ladies tasted victory by defeating North Herts 3-2.
Brighton reversed their Round 1 loss in Round 2 by overcoming Warrington 4-1 and North Herts had a close 3-2 win over Bristol.
Further close matches followed in the third round with North Herts and Bristol both having 3-2 victories over Brighton and Warrington respectively. Final group placings: North Herts 1st, Bristol 2nd, Brighton 3rd, Warrington 4th.
Two former champions were going head to head to hold the trophy once again.
Leeds started well, winning the first game but then North Herts levelled the match. Leeds went into the lead again in the doubles and with a closely fought fourth game took the win, the title and the trophy.
In the bronze medal match Bristol had three very close games against Tamworth with the first two going to five and the doubles to four but a win in each meant they finished in the third position.
There was a real battle between Brighton and Leicester for the fifth/sixth positions. It was even at 2-2 but with Brighton winning the fifth in five they finished in the higher place. A similarly tight score of 3-2 between Guildford and Warrington resulted in a victory for the southern team.
Leeds: Zoe Cheesman, Joanna Roberts
North Herts: Sandra Harper, Janice Laing
Bristol: Michelle Reeves, Emma Rose, Emily Standing
Tamworth: Dawn Sagoo, Diane St Ledger
Brighton: Rebecca George, Sally Hughes
Leicester: Jessica Birbeck, Karen Smith
Guildford: Sally Cimiotti, Sarah Horsnell
Warrington: Rachel Baker, Annie Hudson
In many of the ladies’ games the final result wasn’t always a real reflection of the closeness of the matches, with so many going to five and many, many matches going to deuce. As with the men, one or two points meant the difference between finishing top or bottom of the group and similarly to the men, one of the finalists were beaten in their group by the team which finished in eight place.
The end of day one, a long day, but despite such close scores it was a real credit to all players for the spirit in which all the matches were played.
Carter Cup (Junior Boys)
The day started well for Wembley & Harrow, the No 1 seeds, with a straight 5-0 win over Oxford whilst Hull had a walkover against Crawley & Horsham. Round 2 and although Wembley & Harrow continued their winning ways against Crawley & Horsham it was a closely contested match that wasn’t decided until the final game. Hull had a straightforward win over Oxford 5-0.
Round 3 and Wembley & Harrow had their second maximum in the group against Hull whilst Crawley & Horsham had their second 3-2 loss, against a determined Oxford, with the doubles proving the turning point in the match. Final group placings: Wembley & Harrow 1st, Hull 2nd, Oxford 3rd, Crawley & Horsham 4th.
In the first round in this group the No 2 seeds, Birmingham, started well with a straight 5-0 win over Guildford. On the other table Cambridge defeated Nottingham 3-2 in a closely contested match.
Round 2 and despite some very tight matches Birmingham suffered a surprise 4-1 defeat at the hands of the young team from Nottingham. Cambridge gained another victory, this time 5-0, against the Guildford youngsters.
The final round in the group saw three matches go to five sets in the match between Cambridge and Birmingham; the honours eventually went to Cambridge with the result not being decided until the very last, very close game. Nottingham had an easier time against Guildford, winning 5-0.
It was so close between the top three teams but Cambridge fought well to win all their matches to earn their place for a chance at the title. Final group placings: Cambridge 1st, Nottingham 2nd, Birmingham 3rd, Guildford 4th.
The bid for the title was on, Wembley & Harrow won the first and then Cambridge equalled the score. The doubles went to the London lads who then took the third singles to reclaim the trophy they won in 2013. Praise must go the Cambridge team who played so well and with such determination to get to the final and who played their part to make it an excellent finale.
The match between Nottingham and Hull for the bronze medals was keenly fought. After four games it was 2-2, a titanic battle in the fifth in the fifth; a cool head resulted in a victorious Nottingham team. Oxford finished fifth against a weakened Birmingham side, the final scoreline 3-2. Crawley & Horsham took seventh position but the absolutely delighted and delightful team from Guildford had their first win of the day in their very last match – the final score 4-1.
Wembley & Harrow: Eren Gozcu, Karim Khassal
Cambridge: Adam Jepson, James Kelly
Nottingham: Naphat Boonyaprapa, Tim Denby
Hull: Addi Duhan, Will Ibbitson
Oxford: Erik Wahlgren, Kavan Warrender
Birmingham: Michael Bree, Sam Henderson
Crawley & Horsham: George Hazell, Ben Worley
Guildford: Charlie Cunningham, Adit Gandhi, Milan Sajiv, Nikit Sajiv
Bromfield Trophy (Junior Girls)
Two teams had withdrawn from this competition which resulted in two groups of three being played.
The first match between Kettering and Darlington saw the older and more experienced Kettering team win 5-0. Derby, the holders, defeated Darlington by the same score in the second round in the group. In the third round Derby showed their class with their second 5-0 win, this time against Kettering. Final group placings: Derby 1st, Kettering 2nd, Darlington 3rd.
The Hull youngsters started the day well with a 5-0 win over Leamington Spa. In the second round Crawley & Horsham, the No 2 seeds, had a good win 4-1 against Leamington but Round 3 saw the shock result of the weekend with Hull defeating Crawley & Horsham by 4-1. Final group placings: Hull 1st, Crawley & Horsham 2nd, Leamington Spa 3rd.
After their success to reach the final, Hull were unable to maintain their winning ways against a strong Derby pair and went down 3-0 for the holders to keep their grip on the trophy for a further season.
Crawley & Horsham versus Kettering for the bronze medal position saw some excellent and close matches with the first three going to five. After the doubles, Crawley & Horsham were 2-1 up and they then took the next match so defeating the gallant Kettering partnership. Leamington Spa played well to take fifth position, with Darlington playing a good doubles match to take their first win of the day.
Derby: Amy Humphreys, Diana Rusinova
Hull: Gauri Duhan, Jasmin Wong
Crawley & Horsham: Kate Cheer, Holly Holder
Kettering: Nicole Bird, Bhavika Mistry
Leamington Spa: Milly Bradshaw, Olivia Fletcher
Darlington: Erin Greensmith, Katie Peacock, Georgina Peart, Katie Wray
Once again all the youngsters were a great credit to table tennis, to their leagues and to their parents and coaches. All matches were played in a competitive but sporting manner. Thank you one and all.
Thanks must also go to the umpires for all their sterling work over two long and full days and to my Deputy Referee, Ken Eliot, for his support. Westfield Table Tennis Club in Wellingborough provided their usual excellent hospitality and organisation; it is a pleasure to be at their venue. And, finally, thanks go to Roger Hance for his great photos which can be found on Flickr by clicking here
For a tournament to be running 80 years after its inception and still to be enjoyed and well supported by the people it was intended for is a great tribute to the founder of the competition, AJ Wilmott – may his vision continue.