Senior Classification 2018
The first big Senior Table Tennis Tournament of the new season was held at DCU over the weekend and some of Ormeau’s players were in action. Thomas and Sophie Earley were already through to next stage due to their high rankings but Zak Earley, Phil Jamison, Allen Robson, James and Max Skelton had to try and qualify on Saturday. Allen and Phil had tough groups but were both disappointed to finish 3rd and so went into the consolation category. They both got over their frustrations and battled hard to win 5 matches to meet each other in a hard fought final in which Phil came out on top 13/11 in the deciding set.
James Skelton won his first group comfortably but unfortunately went on to lose to Dillon Byrne, David Taylor and Connor Gallagher in his second group to bow out of the Tournament. Max was runner up in his first group and so went into the second group which included top seed and club mate Zak Earley. Zak defeated Max 3/0 but they also both won their other group matches to qualify for the top 16 event on Sunday. Max was absolutely buzzing as he was the youngest player to reach this stage this year.
Sophie was the top seed for today’s Ladies event which is quite remarkable considering she is only 12 years old and comfortably the youngest competitor, you sometimes forget just what a player she has become! Sophie started her group with tough 3/1 wins over Nicole Scott and Thuy Lin Cashman followed by a 3/0 of Rebecca Finn to reach the Semi Finals. She faced the awkward but very efficient Sophia Wozniak and prevailed 3/1 in a very mature performance. Sophie now faced Irish Senior international Mia O’ Rahilly Egan in the Final and it lived up to its billing! Sophie started off like a train with went into a 3/1 lead but Mia fought back to level the match to take it into a deciding 7th set. Mia led 6/3 when Coach Phil J stepped in with a timely time out after which Sophie became more aggressive and won the 8 of the next 10 points to win 11-8 to become Irish Senior Classification winner!
Thomas Earley started his very tough group with a 3/2 loss to Kristiona Dapkus, then defeated Ciaron O’Donoghue, and finished the group with a 3/1 loss to Tom Davis. This proved enough to ensure Thomas’s qualification to the ¼ finals through the countback system as 3 players won 1 match each and Thomas had the best set ratio. It just shows you that every set counts in these group matches! Thomas then lost to top Junior Alan Pattison 4/2 who has recently returned from training in Japan. His last two matches were also good performances against Senior International Sacha Gillen and Tom Davis once again but both resulted in 3/1 losses. Thomas finished in 8th position so should be very proud of his achievements.
Zak Earley was placed in an incredibly difficult group along with Joey Nelson, Alan Pattison and Ryan Farrell. Joey defeated him 3/1 but his match against Pattison was a match full of high class rallies and had the crowd on their feet! Alan sneaked it 3/2 and Ryan then defeated Zak 3/0 in the final match. Zak then had a great 3/1 win over Connor Gallagher who had just blown 4 match points over Irish # 1 Gavin Maguire! Now playing off for 9 – 12th place Zak lost 3/0 the in form Dillon Byrne who had earlier defeated Sacha Gillen in his group! His final match was against club mate and young starlet Max Skelton. Max led 2/0 and 10-6 but Zak showed great fighting qualities to turn the match on its head to win 3/2!
Max was excited to play Irish Senior Internationals Gavin Maguire and Zak Wilson in his group along with another UCD star Connor Gallagher. This was a day to enjoy and although Max lost all 3 matches 3/0 he gave all his top opponents a fright and most importantly played with a good attitude throughout. Max then received a walkover form Art Mclaughlin and so now couldn’t finish worse than 12th place. He then lost a tough match against big improver Ciaron O’Donoghue 3/1 and lost his final match 3/2 to Zak in a match in which he must surely feel he should have won. Some great matches for him and invaluable experience.
Finally a mention to Gavin Maguire who won the event after struggling to find his best form earlier in the competition. He showed his class and proved that he is the current undisputed # 1 player in Ireland.
By Allen Robson