Danny Reed finally won his maiden Grand Prix title when he secured a tense 3-2 triumph over the experienced Mike O’Driscoll at the Tees Sport Doncaster Grand Prix.
The depth of quality in the men’s singles was always likely to produce a number of stunning ties and this began with the best of the lot in the very first round. Irish player John Murphy, a late seeding, lost in his group to England’s junior star Helshan Weerasinghe 3-1 (11-5, 4-11, 15-13, 11-8). This meant he had to face top seed and Scottish number 1 Gavin Rumgay in the first round.
His group shock wasn’t the only defeat for a seed though as Luke Walsh produced one of the results of the day to beat Niall Cameron 3-1 (11-7, 11-6, 4-11, 11-9).
However, the focus switched to the big clash between Rumgay and Murphy which, not surprisingly, went to a fifth and deciding game. Murphy struck first in the decider to open up two match points at 10-8 but saw Rumgay reel off three in a row to create his own chance.
With each new match point another level of excitement rose before Murphy eventually secured a dramatic 14-12 win with a great roar and pump of the fist.
The top half of the draw seemed to follow a similar pattern after that opening fixture as both O’Driscoll’s win over Craig Howieson (3-2) and Chris Doran’s win over Matt Ware (3-2) in the quarter-final, were classic encounters. Doran’s win over Ware was particularly vocal with the match only finally swinging Doran’s way after he established a 5-0 lead in the fifth on his way to a 3-2 (11-3, 9-11, 10-12, 11-9, 11-6) win.
In the bottom half of the draw both Ryan Jenkins and Danny Reed were untroubled en route to their semi-final meeting. Jenkins dropped just one game reaching that stage, while Reed didn’t drop any – this included a comprehensive 3-0 (11-5, 11-8, 11-5) win over Paul McCreery.
After the high drama of the early stages much was expected of the semi-finals between O’Driscoll and Doran, and Jenkins and Reed, however, this was not to be the case. Both O’Driscoll and Reed beat their respective opponents 3-0 to set up their final meeting.
This again looked on course for a one-sided match when Reed won the first two games 11-7 but O’Driscoll rolled back the years to rally level. First he won the third 11-6, before then incredibly winning the fourth 17-15 – saving four match points in the process.
Ultimately, a 5-1 lead at the change of ends was to prove decisive as Reed came out on top 11-7 in the fifth game to win his maiden title. O’Driscoll would not leave empty-handed though as his performances earned him the ‘Tees Sport Player of the Weekend’ award.
Alice Loveridge successfully won her first Grand Prix title of the season with a consummate performances in which she dropped just one game throughout the entire tournament.
Coming through her group with four 3-0 wins was the beginning as she secured the second seed spot in the knockout stages with few problems. It wasn’t quite the same for top seed Karina Le Fevre who only progressed on countback in her group.
Le Fevre came out as winner despite losing her last match as her 5-4 games record was enough to beat Inta Zdanovska (4-4) and Tressa Armitage (4-5) to the lead. Zdvanovska’s 3-1 (10-12, 11-9, 11-9, 11-9) win over Armitage taking her through and leaving the English girl out of the singles.
The top seeds also progressed in groups three and four although not before Emma Vickers had to battle her way past Sue Collier 3-2 (12-10, 9-11, 9-11, 11-6, 11-9).
From the quarter-final stage Loveridge took control. Beating Maria Lebedeva 3-0 and then Chloe Whyte 3-1 to reach the final. There she met Vickers who had seen off Natalie Slater (3-0) and Karina Le Fevre (3-0).
The final was full of evenly contested close to the table rallies but, most importantly, most of which were won by the girl from Guernsey. Leaving Vickers without a Grand Prix title yet this season, she won the Tees Sport Doncaster Grand Prix final 3-0 (11-6, 11-5, 11-9).
U21 Men’s Singles:
Helshan Weerasinghe beat Adam Nutland in the under-21’s final after both players overcame their lower seeding to reach the final.
After progressing from their groups, Weerasinghe, the fifth seed and Nutland, the sixth seed both came through their quarter-finals in straight games. The former beat David Thompson 3-0 (11-3, 11-8, 11-5) while the latter beat Lewis Williams 3-0 (11-8, 16-14, 11-6).
The other quarter-finals saw top two seeds Paul McCreery and Sean Doherty progress. Doherty with a solid 3-1 win over Adam Harrison but McCreery had to battle from 2-1 and 6-2 down to beat Josh Robinson.
That was all the Irishman could manage though as he pulled out of the semi-final, leaving Nutland with a bye, while the junior English international had to work through five-games to see off Doherty 3-2 (8-11, 11-9, 11-2, 3-11, 11-5).
The final was another high quality match but in the end the slightly quicker movement from Weerasinghe proved crucial as he won in four games.
U21 Women’s Singles:
Emma Torkington was the surprise winner of the under-21s at the Tees Sport Doncaster Grand Prix after she defeated both Jess Dawson and Chloe Whyte in the latter stages.
After progressing through their groups, finalist Whyte met Janay Gibson while Torkington faced the returning Dawson who was a late entry. While Whyte brushed past Gibson 3-0 (11-7, 11-7, 11-6), Torkington was even more impressive in her one-sided semi-final win over Dawson 3-0 (11-3, 11-9, 11-3).
Despite wearing a back strap throughout the tournament, Torkington then took her form to the final where she raced 2-0 ahead. Although Whyte fought back in the third to close the gap, it wasn’t enough as a tight fourth game went 13-11 to Torkington with a fine edge on match point.
It might have been a long weekend for the veterans’ players who were among the last to finish in Doncaster but Jojo Senorin came out on to at the end with a fine five-game victory over Jimmy Walsh.
Neither player wasted much time in their knockout matches. Walsh beat Barry Tasker 3-1 (5-11, 11-4, 11-2, 11-6) and Paul Beck 3-0 (11-5, 11-3, 11-3), while Senorin beat both Mike Thornley and Dave Randall in straight games.
Both players managed to find another level in the final, despite clearly feeling the long weekend as their encounter went into an energy-sapping deciding game.
As a result Senorin’s greater consistency and defensive style enabled him to claw back from 2-1 down to record the victory and take the glassware home in a tight finish – 11-9 in the last game.
A pumped-up Matt Ware and Mike O’Driscoll won the doubles with outstanding performances in two consecutive five-game matches late on Sunday evening.
After getting through their groups they made light work of Pusch/Dobren in three but found the going much harder in the semi-final and final. Firstly, they faced Chris Doran and Sean Cullen in the semi-final with Ware avenging his singles defeat to Doran by winning 3-2 (11-3, 8-11, 14-12, 9-11, 11-3).
Then in the final the match swung one way and then the other with Ware and O’Driscoll levelling in the fourth to take the match to a deciding game. In the fifth a 7-2 lead for the pair proved enough to take the title home.
Rumgay and Howieson had actually had a very Scottish route to the final after beating Scott Barton and Craig Hardie in the quarter-finals and Niall Cameron with Alim Hirji in the semis.
Joe Killoran was the winner of the single point Sudden Death competition, beating Chris Doran in the final.
Killoran had beaten Tony Stead, Luke Walsh, Adam Curran and Adam Laws to make the final but none of those victories ranked alongside being able to recall the scalp of fourth seed Doran.
Other notable wins saw Richard Johnson make the semi-final after wins against Alim Hirji, Andreas Pusch and Ryan Jenkins. Meanwhile, young Ethan Walsh pulled out the shocks again to beat both Danny Lawrence and Paul McCreery.
– A special mention also to Johnny Miller who was overseeing his last grand prix today. We thank him for all his help after years of setting up and clearing out, driving down motorways and a number of other tasks at often awkward hours and locations. Without behind the scenes help like his, these grand prixs would not take place.
Tees Sport Doncaster Grand Prix Final Results
Danny Reed bt Mike O’Driscoll 3-2 (11-7, 11-7, 6-11, 15-17, 11-7)
Alice Loveridge bt Emma Vickers 3-0 (11-6, 11-5, 11-9)
U21 Men’s Singles:
Helshan Weerasinghe bt Adam Nutland 3-1 (11-3, 9-11, 11-7, 11-6)
U21 Women’s Singles:
Emma Torkington bt Chloe Whyte 3-1 (11-8, 12-10, 8-11, 13-11)
Jojo Senorin bt Jimmy Walsh 3-2 (11-9, 7-11, 6-11, 11-9, 12-10)
Matt Ware/Mike O’Driscoll bt Gavin Rumgay/Craig Howieson 3-2 (8-11, 11-4, 6-11, 11-8, 11-7)
Joe Killoran bt Chris Doran