The annual Cambridgeshire Players Tournament was held over the weekend at Littleport Sports Centre. Disappointingly there was a slightly lower entry than the previous year but once again it was excellent to see such a large number of juniors competing.
With the mens singles champion not defending his title the competition was wide open and such was the close standard of entrants that only two of the four seeded players made the semi-finals. Top seed Rob Pace unfortunately picked up an injury in the early rounds but battled through to face tournament veteran Kevin Barron in the last four for the third consecutive year. Pace took the first set before the injury took its toll and Barron gained revenge with a three set victory. In the bottom half of the draw both seeds suffered early defeats and junior James Watkins defeated university player Joe Pickering in straight sets to face club mate Barron in the final. A comfortable victory for Watkins made him the youngest winner of the tournament in recent memory, a great achievement without dropping a single set.
The rather low turn out for ladies singles made Olga Bryant odds on favourite yet another title and this proved accurate as she won all three matches without dropping a set. Junior Jaclyn Lai pushed Bryant closely and took runners up place.
The mens doubles is often the hottest contested event, however things went mostly to form this year with last year’s winners Kevin Barron/Sunny Loy, new pairing of Jon Carson/Peter Galloway, perennial partners Rob Couch/Dan Bates and John Tibbutt/Rob Pace (ignoring advice and playing through injury) making the last four. Barron made his second final of the weekend with a tight three end win over Carson/Galloway who paid the price for several tough matches in a rather top heavy draw. Couch/Bates were unable to reproduce their excellent form which saw them take the tightest of all games in their quarter final and were comfortably beaten by Tibbutt/Pace. The final proved to be a rather disappointing match with Barron/Loy retaining their title relatively easily in straight sets.
Three of last year’s ladies finalists were unable to enter this year, leaving the competition open to newcomers. Olga Bryant combined with Alison Bennett to take her second title of the weekend with a closely fought win over newcomer Katie Balls with Liz Salmon.
The mixed doubles proved to be a two horse race with reigning champions Alison Bennett and John Tibbutt facing pre-tournament favourites Olga Bryant and Nick Pratt in a re-run of last year’s semi final. Their desire to avenge last year’s defeat was obvious and with Bryant was aiming for a clean sweep of all three events and Pratt going for his eighth mixed doubles title in ten years they proved much too strong for their opponents and ran out comfortable winners.
Plate competition winners:
Mens singles: Tom Legerton
Mens doubles: James Wilson/Mariusz Borowiec
Ladies doubles: Melissa Makin/Isabel Gutteridge
Mixed doubles: Lisa Hawes/Neil Place