2016 – Winter – Preliminary Final Wrap

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Regional Taxation Services with the narrowest of victories have advanced to the Sunraysia Table Tennis “Cash Converters” winter pennant grand final. Their match against a brave Exposed Signage/Apparel was close all the way as the 6-5 score line indicates.

The RTS combination of Wayne Carmichael, Mark Ljubic and Reece Kurrle have enjoyed a good season however will have the task ahead of them when they meet Weightmans Packaging in this weeks grand final.


– Regional Taxation Services 6(Wayne Carmichael, Mark Ljubic 2, Reece Kurrle 1)d Exposed Signage/Apparel 5 (Matt Avers 3, Mark Dorman 1)

In the preliminary final it was Exposed Signage who took the early ascendancy leading two rubbers to one after the first block of three singles. In the first match Matt Avers proved too consistent for his more experienced opponent RTS number two Mark Ljubic winning 11-6 11-6 6-11 11-2 in a strong finish. Exposed number one Mark Dorman in the third match defeated the dangerous Reece Kurrle in four sets while RTS skipper Wayne Carmichael accounted for fill in Shane Carmichael in straight sets.

As always the first doubles is important and while Avers and Dorman have combined very well all season they struggled in this match against Wayne Carmichael and Mark Ljubic going down 11-5 11-5 12-10. The scores were now level at two rubbers all.

The next two singles were full of twists and turns and entertaining table tennis. The first featured RTS skipper Wayne Carmichael up against fifteen year old Matt Avers and this was the best match of the night with Avers grabbing the first due to some fine looping forehand drives. These two produced many fine rallies and it was Carmichael who won the second. Avers then raced away to a 7-2 lead before Carmichael steadied to reduce the deficit to 6-7. At this point Avers managed a net and next point an edge to break away and grab the third game and he was now a real chance of causing an upset, he had enjoyed a little fortune however he was also playing some outstanding table tennis against his more credentialed opponent. Avers then took control in the fourth to record his best win to date at this level winning 11-8 7-11 11-9 11-7.

Exposed Signage now took a 3-2 lead with Regional Taxation Services Mark Ljubic to play Mark Dorman. These two usually play lengthy matches and this was no exception with a tight five setter taking place and in what could have been anyone’s match it was Ljubic who was able to take the points 11-8 8-11 11-3 4-11 11-8 an important result for RTS given the victory by Avers over Carmichael earlier.

2016-Winter-Reece1The next singles saw victory go to Reece Kurrle over fill in Shane Carmichael and for the first time RTS had grabbed the ascendancy and they now took a 4-3 lead.

Exposed Signage pair Matt Avers and Shane Carmichael then came out in style in the second doubles to defeat the more fancied pair of Wayne Carmichael and Reece Kurrle who have been a very successful combination this season.

Going into the final block of three singles scores were all tied up again at four rubbers all. Wayne Carmichael then defeated Mark Dorman to give RTS a five four lead. The scores were levelled again when the outstanding Avers won his third singles 5-11 11-7 11-6 11-4 over Kurrle who defeated Avers when they last met.

At five rubbers all Mark Ljubic then advanced Regional Taxation Services to the grand final when he accounted for a game Shane Carmichael 11-6 11-2 9-11 11-7. The preliminary final had been a very good contest between two evenly matched teams.

This week’s grand final is expected to be another keenly fought match as ladder leaders Mallee Bearings come up against Regional Taxation Services. Head to head this season Mallee Bearings have won on three of the four occasions they have met and will go into the final as favourites. The doubles could decide the premiership.



 – Mallee Bearings 6 (Jackson Murphy 3, Lee Thomas 2, Terry Martin 1) d Mallee Meats (Geoff Wright 2, Russell Walder 1)


In a welcome return to form, Mallee Bearings captain Jackson Murphy got his team over the line in this Preliminary Final match against Mallee Meats.

Murphy, for only the third time this season, took all his singles matches, thus taking this match to the eleventh rubber.

Murphy, who has been susceptible to losing his first round singles match, certainly pulled one out of the bag in this game, for this time he drew opposing captain Geoff Wright in that first round.  And what a great contest it was.  Each of the five sets was won by the narrowest of margins, mistakes proving costly, and hard to retrieve.  Murphy had to come from behind too, winning 12-10, 10-12, 13-15, 11-9, 11-9.

That made the score 2-1 at that point, but Mallee Meats evened with a win in the first doubles.  Indeed, Mallee Meats took both doubles, and that is what kept them in the game.

After losing that first round match, Wright won his two other singles rubbers, significantly downing Lee Thomas, who can always be counted on to be a chance of winning three.  That was another five set contest, and Wright trailed two sets to one, but got the better of Thomas in the final two sets to run out the winner 17-15, 7-11, 3-11, 11-8, 11-6.  Mallee Meats then led 5-4 with Russell Walder and Kerry Wallace to play Murphy and Terry Martin, in the last two singles rubbers.

Walder gave Murphy a scare taking the first set 11-8, but could not contain Murphy, who took the next three 6, 6 and 9 to even the scores.


Kerry Wallace, subbing for Andrew Jones, almost won the game for her adopted side, however, the constant attacking game of Martin paid off against Kerry’s predominately defensive game.  It was close … five sets again with Martin winning 6-11, 11-7, 11-8, 10-12, 13-11.

A great game, but it has to be said that had Mallee Bearings lost it would have seemed unjust.  They have been consistent all year, whereas Mallee Meats really lost their way in the second half of the season, and surprised everyone by ousting Ed Hung’s side last week.

So, next week a rematch of the first Semi- Final – Pinnacle Packers, who finished top of the ladder against second placed Mallee Bearings.  Expect a long night … bring a cushion.

Final scores here:  6 rubbers to 5 and 24 games to 21.




– Mallee Meats 6 (Rod Healy 3, Claire Ljubic, Marcus Cimino 1) d Regional Taxation Services 3 (Quentin Clark, David Sergi 1)

After taking an early 3-1 lead in this game against Mallee Meats, Regional Taxation Services faded away to lose 6-3.

A controlled four set win by David Sergi over Marcus Cimino in the first rubber gave Regional Taxation Services the start they wanted.  And when Sam Hensgen, filling in for Vin Brown took the first set 11-9 against Rod Healy, it looked like an upset might be brewing.  Healy, forever the master of retrieving matches that appear lost, (when he is not just winning outright !) recovered from Sam’s first set onslaught to even the score with wins in the next three sets.

2015-Winter-QuentinClarke5Quentin Clark dominated Claire Ljubic, Ljubic only looking a threat in the second set, with Clark winning 11-7, 14-12, 11-5.  And the two winners, Sergi and Clark pushed the score out to 3-1 when they won the first doubles against Healy and Ljubic in five.

Sergi started well against Healy, in similar fashion to Hensgen, winning the first set 11-9.  Once again Healy was able to escape, on this occasion Sergi almost had a two set lead, as he led 10-7 in the second, but Healy took five points in a row to deny him the advantage.  After that Healy was untroubled, winning the third and fourth sets 11-4, 11-4.

The next game was one that went begging for Regional Taxation Services.  A win in this rubber would have made their lead 4-2, instead Marcus Cimino, two sets down against Quentin Clark managed to escape defeat, and brought the scores level.  Clark looked to be in no trouble at all.  He won the first set 11-1 !  The second was also his 11-8, and considering their rankings, Clark a number one, Cimino a three, who would have bet against Quentin?  But, Cimino chased everything, frustrating Clark, whose forehand drives became more erratic as the game wore on.  The third set went to Cimino 11-7; in the fourth Clark held match points but could not close the match out, Cimino taking it 15-13 to make it two sets all.  And in the fifth, Cimino now with confidence sky-high, simply waited for Clark to stumble, and he took the fifth 12-10.  Asked about the game later, Marcus said, “It was all a bit of a blur !!”  Clark’s confidence disappeared after that rubber, and with him playing in two of the next three rubbers, the result was made easier for Mallee Meats as his game did not recover.

After looking a threat against Healy earlier on, Sam Hensgen met a quick end at the hands of Claire Ljubic, losing in a quick-fire three set contest.  Then Clark, partnered by Hensgen, faced Cimino, teamed up with Healy, again in the second doubles.  The Regional Taxation Services pair did take a set, but Healy and Cimino playing with confidence, won 11-9, 4-11, 11-7, 11-9.

Regional Taxation Services were now on the brink of defeat, and needed to win the next two rubbers just to draw level, and force the game to the eleventh rubber.

2016-Winter-RodHealy3There was no joy for them, however, as Rod Healy took the win for his side with a four set win against Clark 11-4, 8-11, 11-9, 11-6.

So, next week the two top sides, Tankard Dental and Mallee Meats, play in the Grand Final.  Mallee Meats will be hoping Claire Ljubic has a better night than she did in the Semi Final game against Tankard Dental, who have a side of big hitters, Michael Hensgen, Zac Healy and Rohan Reimers.

Final scores:  6 rubbers to 3 and 21 games to 15.





– Mallee Meats 6 (Ryan Hensgen 3, Nick Kiapekos, Luke Ljubic 1) d Weightmans Packaging 5 (Sabrina Fitzpatrick, Helen Frania 2)

Going into this match Weightmans Packaging held a 3-0 win /loss ratio over their opponents Mallee Meats however all concerned thought this would be a close match and close it was.

Two players helped to decide the result. Mallee Meats skipper Ryan Hensgen played well as leader of his team winning three singles. Against the consistent Helen Frania Ryan was pushed to four sets, while he scored a comfortable win over Tom Cooper who tried hard. His third singles was vital to both teams and opponent Sabrina Fitzpatrick is always a tough match up and a player who likes long rallies. This match panned out that way with many long points taking place and it was Ryan who prevailed 15-13 11-8 11-4 to take his team to a 5-4 lead.

The second player to play a key role in the match was “birthday boy” Luke Ljubic. On his 13th birthday he teamed up with Ryan Hensgen in the all-important second doubles. Victory to Weightmans would see them go to a 5-3 lead and within sight of victory. Ryan and Luke took on Sabrina Fitzpatrick and Tom Cooper and what a match it was. Ryan and Luke grabbed the first two games narrowly before Sabrina and Tom steadied to take the third and fourth. The pressure was on and it was the Mallee Meats pair of Ryan and Luke who were able to steady and go on and win in five 11-9 11-9 6-11 10-12 11-6. They had managed to level the match at four rubbers all.

Earlier it had been Sabrina and Helen Frania who had won the first doubles in straight sets against Ryan and the steady Nick Kiapekos.

Now with the scores level at four rubbers all the two captains met for the fourth time this season and on each occasion Sabrina had defeated Ryan however they had finished the singles aggregate level on 26 wins each although Sabrina had missed one more week than Ryan.

2016-Winter-RyanThe first game was close, very close with Ryan just getting over the line first as he did again in the second. With his confidence now up Ryan played well to go on and win against a determined Sabrina 15-13 11-8 11-4.

The next match was tight all the way with the improved Helen Frania just taking the match over the consistent Nick Kiapekos 15-13 12-10 11-8. The score now was five rubbers all. Helen had played well to win two singles as did Sabrina.

2016-Winter-LukeLjubic3The “Birthday boy “ then stepped up to the plate and it was Luke Ljubic who was able to prove the steadiest in a nerve wracking match winning 11-13 11-7 11-7 11-7 over Tom Cooper who tried hard for his team. Luke had played well to take Mallee Meats to the grand final.

The trio of Ryan Hensgen, Nick Kiapekos and Luke Ljubic will start as slight underdogs however if they can replicate this form they could hold up the shield on Wednesday night. Bring on the grand final!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

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