Despite the rising shadow of the Corona Virus, meaning that this year we wouldn't be able to celebrate in style after the Club Championships, the Championships themselves attracted 16 players, all keen to pit themselves against their fellow club members to see who could claim the bragging rights for the next year...
With Mark Woodliffe (our club champion for the last two years) absent through injury, we were sure to be crowning a new champion this year.
In the first round, the top seeds eased their way through as expected, whilst in the middle rankings there were already a couple of upsets. Erik Reichmuth upset Erich Aschenberger with a 3-1 win, whilst Adam Poturalski fought his way past Stephan De Craecker in tight five-setter.
In the quarter finals, all the matches went with ranking, with not one of the higher seeds dropping a game. In the "plate" half of the competition, the games also went with the rankings, though Colin Stevens and Natasha Smith were able to squeeze a game from Stephan De Craecker and Thomas Rattin respectively.
In the semi-finals, Lukas Hänni was able to ease past Marco Valpiani (clearly exhausted after his gruelling 3-0 victory in the quarters!), defeating him 11-1 in the third. Cindy Merlo had a tougher time against Lubomir Jakubovic, but was still able to close the game out 3-1. Erik Reichmuth and Adam Poturalski had the toughest match in this round - the only five-setter. Despite Erik's valiant fight back from two games down to level the match, Adam was able to win it with a comfortable 11-4 in the fifth. Stephan De Craecker beat Erich Aschenberger in a close four gamer to spoil Erich's day even further, whilst Thomas Rattin defeated Jeremy Rothwell in three.
In the last round, Colin Stevens beat Stephane Bertrand in three and Thomas Keel improved his finishing place relative to his ranking by beating Natasha Smith. Erich was spared further ignominy as Jeremy Rothwell dropped out with a back problem, whilst Thomas Rattin was unable to upset the rankings any further, losing to Stephan De Craecker in three. Erik once again provided a ranking upset by defeating Stephan Germundson to secure eighth place, and Adam continued to play well in his last match, making it tough for Mark Robbins who eventually managed to close out the match in five.
In the play-off for third place, Lubomir was able to continue his good form to take the match, and third prize, against Marco in three.
And so to the final...
Lukas Hänni, runner up for the last two years against Mark Woodliffe, was facing an altogether different prospect this year in Cindy Merlo. Whilst Mark is an ex-tour player, more recently famed for winning some great Masters titles, Cindy is very much a current professional; climbing the rankings and already at 65 in the world. Lukas, as an amateur, albeit a dedicated and determined one, was once again going to be in for a tough time! With all the other players finally getting the chance to have a rest, we all settled down to see who would be victorious...
The match didn't start well for Lukas with Cindy, looking sharp and comfortable, taking the first game to 4 points. Lukas however, as anyone who knows him knows, isn't one to give up easily. Cindy took the first three points of the second game, but Lukas fought back, overhauling Cindy to get as far as 8-5 up, before Cindy started her own fight back to get the first game ball. Lukas was able to take the next two points though, setting up his own game ball, but was unable to convert it. Cindy took the next three points to take the game 13-11. The third game was also a hard-fought battle - staying pretty even, with neither player able to get more than a point ahead, until Cindy was able to put together a run of 4 points to take it to 10-7. Lukas still wasn't giving up and managed to haul it back to 10:9, but Cindy wasn't about to give him another game-ball and closed out the game 11:9!
Congratulations Cindy! A great match and a worth winner! We hope you'll be here again next year to defend your title!
Mark Robbins & Erich Aschenberger – tournament organisers.