The Bristol & District Table Tennis Association held their 10th anniversary closed Hard Bat competition on January 7 in which only the identical bats provided on the day were allowed to be used, thereby making this one of the most unique and fairest competitions of its kind in the country.

The number of entrants this year was a record high, which only goes to show how popular this event has now become since its inception.

The top prize was the John Mycroft Boucher Hard Bat trophy in memory of JMB who was the very first winner of the Championships of Gloucestershire in 1902 and who went on later that year to be a founding member of the oldest table tennis league in the world, as well as a leading figure in formation of the Ping Pong Association.

Although his great-grand-daughter could not make it on the day, a message was read out to all competitors to wish them well. Nevertheless, one family descendant, Andy Boucher, was present and was keen to present the trophies.

There was also the Plate trophy competition in memory of James Edwin Sherrard Hamilton who was the Bristol league’s very first Chairman and also the very first winner of our Bristol Individual Championships Men’s Singles event in the 1919/1920 season.

As for the matches themselves, and despite the absence of a former double champion on the day, Martin Gunn, the level of competition was nonetheless still as high as it always is.

Once the first two rounds of group matches were completed by the early afternoon, the quarter-finals in both halves of the competition were played out, and soon we reached the semi-final stage.

Plate victor Steve Doidge receives his trophy

In the Plate event semis, Ian Maggs just missed out to Steve Doidge, and previous two-time winner, Dennis Coombe, narrowly lost to the current holder, Chris Adamek. However, there was to be yet another new name on the trophy, as Steve Doidge was triumphant with a 21-11, 21-18 victory.

In the Main event, the 2013 champion Dave Reeves faced off against Dan Ives, who is the current holder of the world’s longest ever table tennis rally at 8 hours, 40 minutes with his father, Peter, but this match did not last that long!

Dave eventually prevailed in three sets and squared off in the final against the semi-final winner on the other table, Nick Branch, who reigned supreme in three close sets over Anthony Kent.

The final itself was a humdinger (as you will soon be able to view on YouTube and on our Bristol website) and was successfully won by Dave Reeves (21-18, 21-13).

This ended yet another great day on the B&DTTA calendar, and all entrants were already looking forward to next year’s event.