Alex Ramsden and Kate Cheer are the Cadet Masters champions after a thrilling day’s play at Burton Uxbridge TTC.
Ramsden was outstanding, going through the round-robin event unbeaten to add the title to the National Cadet singles crown he won in Preston in November.
No 4 seed Joe Clark was second, with the bronze medal going to Ethan Walsh, the youngest player in the field and the seventh seed.
Cheer’s victory was less clear-cut as she was one of three players who could claim the crown going into the final round.
She beat Denise Payet in four sets to inflict a first defeat of the tournament on the top seed. Cheer also had one defeat, but had to wait for the outcome of the match between Isabelle Joubeily and Charlotte Bardsley to know whether she was champion.
In the event, Bardsley beat Joubeily to ensure they both finished with two defeats. And that meant Cheer was champion by virtue of her head-to-head record against Payet. Bardsley finished ahead of Joubeily in the same fashion – tough on Joubeily, who had won her first nine matches.
It meant Bardsley had the bronze, Payet having to settle for silver behind Cheer.
The second day’s play of the final Cadet Masters – the event changes to a Top 10 next year – had started with the top four girls all boasting 100 per cent records.
The first ‘summit meeting’ of the day saw Payet up against Bardsley, and it was the top seed who prevailed in four.
Cheer needed to hold off a spirited fightback by Gauri Duhan to claim a 3-2 win which kept her own unbeaten run alive (11-6, 11-8, 7-11, 8-11, 11-4), while Joubeily remained in the leading pack by defeating Sophie Barlow in four.
There were first wins for Bhavika Mistry, against Holly Williams, and Jasmin Wong, who withstood a fine comeback by Megan Dillon to win 3-2 (11-7, 11-7, 10-12, 10-12, 11-5).
The next round saw another unbeaten record fall by the wayside as Joubeily swept past Cheer in three straight. Payet had some moments of concern against Duhan, dropping the first set and shading the second 13-11 and fourth 12-10 in a 3-1 victory.
Dillon was so close to notching her first success when she led Mistry 2-1, only to see her opponent come through 3-2.
The destination of the medals began to become slightly clearer in round nine with Cheer’s victory in five over Bardsley. But she had to do it the hard way, coming from two down to take it 3-2 (6-11, 12-14, 11-6, 11-9, 11-6).
Payet continued her serene progress, beating Barlow in three, but Joubeily was taken the distance by Duhan before claiming it in the fifth (11-8, 11-8, 9-11, 10-12, 11-3).
The two leaders met in round 10, and it was a match befitting its status. Joubeily took the first 12-10 and quickly added the second 11-6. As the two exchanged blows in some fierce rallies, Payet got a foothold by taking the third 11-6.
That signalled a shift in momentum and she levelled by sealing the fourth 11-5. And despite being 5-2 down in the decider, Payet responded with her best form of the match to take it 11-7 and put one hand on the trophy.
She strengthened her grip by taking the first 11-5 against Cheer, but the second seed responded by reeling off three in a row to clinch it 3-1 (5-11, 11-7, 11-7, 11-8).
A win for Joubeily would see her join a three-way tie at the top, but Bardsley knew a win could see her take the bronze. It made for a great battle, eventually won by Bardsley by a 3-2 margin (6-11, 11-4, 11-5, 8-11, 11-4).
Meanwhile, Dillon ended on a high by claiming her first victory – 3-0 against Holly Williams.
Champion Cheer said: “I knew going into the last match I could still win it, but I had to rely on other people losing. Even when I won against Denise, I didn’t know whether I had won the title.
“It was a bit annoying because I train with Isabelle and play with her. I wanted her to win her match but I knew she had to lose so I could win the title.
“We had an England training camp last week, so I had a hard week’s training, and I started knocking up really well at the start, so I was looking forward to it and knew I had a chance.
“It’s brilliant to be the last Masters champion.”
In the boys’ event, Clark and Ramsden were the only two unbeaten players after Saturday’s action.
But Clark had to dig deep in his first match of the day to hold off Harry Dai in five and keep his own run going, finally taking it 3-2 (7-11, 11-6, 11-8, 8-11, 11-8).
The first round of the boys’ day also saw Artur Caltabiano get the better of Eren Gozcu in three close sets – 12-10, 15-13, 13-11 – to notch his first win.
The pivotal moment came in the eighth round, as Ramsden and Clark met. And it was Clark who struck first, taking a tight first 14-12. But Ramsden found his form to take the next three 11-8, 11-3, 11-9 to move out in front on his own.
George Hazell picked up his first win in round 8, against Sam Chesterman, while Ethan Walsh came from 2-0 down to beat Caltabiano to maintain his push for third.
Walsh backed that up in round nine by beating Hazell in three straight, while the top two also won – Clark in three against Olly Tyndall and Ramsden in four, having lost the first, against Smith.
Chesterman clinched his first win against Gozcu with a brilliant run of points in the fifth. At 8-3 down, he stormed through the next eight points to break his duck and Gozcu’s heart. The final score was 7-11, 11-9, 11-8, 10-12, 11-8 in Chesterman’s favour.
The 10th round was notable for Walsh moving clear in third with a four-set win over McMullan, while James Smith stayed in contention for a medal by beating Harry Dai in three straight. Caltabiano won a five-set battle with Chesterman.
The final round saw the top three remain the top three, Ramsden beating Dai in three, Clark holding off Smith 3-1 and Walsh getting the better of Eren Gozcu in four.
And there was a cracking match to bring the tournament to an end as Caltabiano defeated Hazell in five, taking the decider 14-12.
Champion Ramsden said: “I came close to winning last year at my first Masters, so obviously it’s good to come here and win this year. I like the fact I’ll be Cadet Masters champion for ever!
“The match against Joe was kind of the decider. He took the first game and came out firing shots in the second and I wasn’t sure what to do, but I changed my tactics and got back in it. It was tough against James Smith as well. I guess they both thought they had nothing to lose.
“I just tried to stay focused. You are obviously going to lose focus over two days but it doesn’t matter as long as you get it back straight away.”
Boys: 1 Alex Ramsden, 2 Joe Clark, 3 Ethan Walsh, 4 James Smith, 5 Jonny McMullan, 6 Shayan Siraj, 7 Olly Tyndall, 8 Harry Dai, 9 Artur Caltabiano, 10 George Hazell, 11 Sam Chesterman, 12 Eren Gozcu.
Girls: 1 Kate Cheer, 2 Denise Payet, 3 Charlotte Bardsley, 4 Isabelle Joubeily, 5 Gauri Duhan, 6 Amy Blagbrough, 7 Jasmin Wong, 8 Tiana Dennison, 9 Sophie Barlow, 10 Bhavika Mistry, 11 Holly Williams, 12 Megan Dillon.