Mallee Bearings have advanced to the Sunraysia Table Tennis Grand Final following their strong display over second team Tankard Dental. The Bearings trio of Wayne Carmichael, Jackson Tung and Russell Walder advanced courtesy of their 6-2 victory and they are peaking at the right time of the season. In the final round of the season last week they moved to the top of the ladder for the first time.
– Second Semi Final:
– Mallee Bearings 6 (Wayne Carmichael 2, Russell Walder, Jackson Tung 1) d Tankard Dental 2 (Matt Ljubic 2)
In the second semi final there were two crucial matches in the first four and Mallee Bearings won both. Firstly the in form Jackson Tung recovered from a 1-2 deficit against the more experienced Gavin Carmichael in the first game of the night to win in five sets 9-11 11-5 9-11 11-5 11-7.
Tankards needed the first doubles as they trailed 1-2 going in to this match. Matt Ljubic and Gavin Carmichael won the first two games and appeared to be on track to level the match scores however the Bearings pair of Wayne Carmichael and Jackson Tung fought back to claim the match 9-11 7-11 11-7 11-6 11-7 a great comeback!
In the next two singles, matches then went as expected with Wayne Carmichael accounting for brother Gavin in straight sets while Tankards won their second courtesy of Matt Ljubic defeating Jackson Tung in an entertaining four setter.
The score was now 4-2 in favour of Mallee Bearings when the two number threes met. Bearings Russell Walder held a narrow edge in each game and went on to defeat Michael Hensgen in straight sets. The second doubles was crucial for Tankards as Matt Ljubic and Hensgen stepped up to the table however it wasn’t to be as opponents Wayne Carmichael and Russell Walder proved too steady and won 11-8 11-9 11-6 and in doing so their team has advanced to the grand final.
– First Semi Final:
– Cookes Pools & Spas 6 (Joel Thomas 3, Leon Brown 1) d Max Miller Carpets 3 (Nicholas Dorman 2, Jackson Murphy 1)
In the knockout first semi final Cookes Pools & Spas advanced to the preliminary final with a solid 6-3 victory over fourth team Max Miller Carpets. Cookes are playing well at the right time and as usual Joel Thomas won three singles.
Thomas is undefeated in 45 singles matches this season which is an outstanding achievement however he did not have it all his own way late in the first semi when opposing captain Nicholas Dorman tried valiantly to keep his team alive. With his team down 3-5 Dorman was out of the blocks early against Thomas playing amazing table tennis. Dorman grabbed the first two games and an upset was brewing however Thomas changed gears to bounce back with a 6-11 8-11 11-4 11-3 11-5 win.
Apart from his three singles wins Thomas also teamed up with Leon Brown and Lee Leeson to win both doubles. The Carpeters had enjoyed a solid season mostly occupying fourth position and that is where their season has ended.
Tankard Dental vs Cookes Pools & Spas in Preliminary Final.
After a very close season, the finals are upon us. The surprise of these games was that, considering how close the season has been, both matches were one-sided.
COOKES POOLS & SPAS v PINNACLE PACKERS
This was the First Semi-Final match, with the loser exiting the competition, and the winner to play the loser of the Second Semi-Final.
On the last two occasions these two sides met, Cookes Pools & Spas were without their dangerous number three, Rohan Reimers. On both those occasions Pinnacle Packers won, something captain Peter Midgley was only too aware of. Those wins were, in these COVID-19 times, what could be called “false positives”.
And so it proved. With their loss in the last round, Cookes Pools & Spas fell from top of the ladder to fourth, and they were keen to get their season back on track.
John Fitzpatrick opened proceedings for Ash Morrison’s team with a gutsy win against Pinnacle Packers number three David Sergi. Sergi led 9-5 in the fifth set, only to see his lead whittled away by the never-say-die Cookes number two, John taking six points in a row to deliver the first blow in this match.
Next was the danger match that Peter Midgley had been predicting. Reimers, on his night, can probably defeat anyone in this grade, and this was one of those nights. Midgley led two sets to one, but at that stage the match was really only half over!! Reimers, playing his first match for about a month, showed he was still in form taking the last two sets 11-7, 12-10. Cookes Pools & Spas 2-0.
Ash Morrison made that 3-0 with a clinical three set win against Pinnacle Packers number two Raymond Manzanares.
The first doubles, Morrison and John Fitzpatrick, a pair who have not enjoyed much success in doubles this year, against Midgley and Manzanares. After two sets it looked like situation normal, as the Pinnacle Packers pair led 11-7, 11-8. What ever the Cookes Pools & Spas pair spoke about during the end-change after that second set is not known, but whatever it was the pair showed absolute commitment in the next three sets, taking them 13-11, 11-9, 11-9. It was now 4-0, and it was only a matter of time and Cookes would take this match.
Midgley faced Fitzpatrick in the next rubber, and for a short while it seemed all his nightmares had come at once. John took the first set 11-7, but then Midgley got into stride and reversed things, taking the match in four sets. Cookes now led 4-1.
Morrison was up again next, this time against Pinnacle Packers number three David Sergi, and another straight sets win, 5-1.
Reimers then played Pinnacle Packers number two Raymond Manzanares. Manzanares took the first set 11-9, Reimers the next two 11-6, 11-9; the match was up for grabs in the fourth set, Reimers grabbed it with a 17-15 win.
With that, the score read 6-1, Cookes Pools & Spas were into the next week, and Pinnacle Packers season ended.
Final scores: 6 rubbers to 1 and 19 games to 10.
MAX MILLER CARPETS v MJM AUTOMOTIVE
These two top teams both finished the season impressively, both winning five of their last six matches.
Max Miller Carpets, who finished on top of the ladder, had to deal with losing their captain, Kieren McRae after round 8. However, Paul Kealley dropped into the side almost seamlessly. Losing the next two rounds, the side then rattled off five wins in a row to secure top spot on the ladder.
MJM Automotive had a strong season too, captain Dylan Wood taking the aggregate prize, and Jeremy Corrin and number three Marcus Cimino providing valuable backup.
In this match however, Max Miller Carpets, after losing the first rubber, then grabbed the next four and put the match out of reach of their opponents.
At one rubber all, Max Miller Carpets number two Casper McCarthy faced MJM Automotive captain Dylan Wood, and McCarthy won what was the pivotal game in the contest. The match was close, Wood lead two sets to one, but McCarthy came home strongly with 11-6, 11-5 wins in the last two sets.
The first doubles was also a Max Miller Carpets benefit, Kealley and McCarthy duking it out with Wood and Corrin, taking the match after five sets.
Had the McCarthy-Wood match gone as thought, the score would now have been 2 all, not 3-1. And that had a flow-on effect, as the next four rubbers were evenly spread between the two teams – Kealley defeated Corrin 4-1; Wood defeated Andrew Kremor 4-2; McCarthy downed Cimino 5-2; the second doubles Wood and Cimino too good for Kealley and Kremor in a solid five set work-out.
With just the final round of singles to come, Max Miller Carpets was well and truly on the edge of a win, with the two captains to play first. It was a close match, Kealley desperately wanting to finish the match right there and then, Wood equally as desperate to keep his side in the contest. Wood had the early advantage and led two sets to love 12-10, 11-9. Kealley then found his range and burst back into the match with a scoreline of 11-5 in the third. Wood responded but the fourth went to Kealley as well 13-11. With the momentum with him, Kealley closed out the match 11-7, and so put his side into the Grand Final, and sending MJM Automotive to deal with Cookes Pools & Spas in the Final next week.
Final scores: 6 rubbers to 3 and 21 games to 17.
With only four teams in this pennant, all sides were assured of making the finals no matter where they finished on the ladder. No-one, however predicted the result of the First Semi-Final.
SAMMY’S SLAMMERS v. WEIGHTMANS PACKAGING
With just one win from fifteen contested, Sammy’s Slammers were the poor relation of this grade. However, if one takes a different slant on the game, it makes good reading.
Huseyin Ismail has been playing the strategic game this season, knowing that his side would be in the finals no matter what. He himself took four weeks away from the game mid-season to freshen up, and thereafter scored modestly in the run-up to the finals.
His number three Brian White scored at the rate of one win each two matches to keep his hand in, and number two Dave Tanner picked up 18 wins for the season.
For this match though, Ismail strategically rested Tanner and brought in little-known junior Jamie Kealley, no doubt to lull his opposition into a false sense of security.
Kealley’s impact on the match was immediate, winning the first rubber in four sets against Costa Skiadis. Weightmans Packaging levelled through captain James Jarvis defeating Sammy’s Slammers number three White. Ismail demonstrated, that, although he seems pretty disinterested in almost everything, finals do matter and set about giving no quarter to the hard-to-beat Karly Leach. Hus prevailed in a close three setter 11-9, 17-15, 11-8.
Scores were level at 2-2 after the first doubles when Jarvis and Skiadis defeated Ismail and White.
Sammy’s Slammers took a winning break in the next round of singles – Kealley once again proving his worth, this time downing Weightmans Packaging captain Jarvis in just four sets; Ismail taking his second win for the night against Skiadis in four sets, then another upset when White, remember he won just 7 games during the season defeated Leach (she won 21 games). So now the scoreline read 5-2 and people began to believe in fairy tales.
Weightmans Packaging set about trying to rescue the match – Jarvis and Leach, no doubt with a bit of energy generated through growing frustration, quickly disposed of Ismail and Kealley in the second doubles in straight sets, Jarvis kept his focus and himself at the table and swept Ismail aside in straight sets 5, 6 and 3 to put his side somewhere near a chance of competing next week. Score now 5-4.
The next match was Karly Leach and Jamie Kealley. Leach, obviously not having one of her best nights, especially with that hard-to-fathom loss to White fought bravely in this contest with the youngster. Kealley looked like bringing the night to an early close with wins in the first two sets 11-9, 11-7. However, Karly was all the while carefully constructing her defence brick-wall, and turned things around in the third set taking that 11-6. With a little bit of confidence, and the occasional look from captain Jarvis, Leach grew in confidence and took the fourth set too. The fifth set was a gem – even throughout, and locked at 9 all, Kealley showed the great attitude that children have to this game, that adults do not. He cared not a whit about the score, and at 9 all continued on with his game, and stole the last two points to record just the second win for the season for this side.
Kealley won three singles, Hus 2, and Brian White one.
Final scores: 6 rubbers to 4 and 18 games all.
MALLEE MEATS v MJM AUTOMOTIVE
MJM Automotive came into this match as red-hot favourites, having won 13 from a possible 15 matches throughout the season. Mallee Meats were not too shabby either, but they had won a mere 9.
In a nutshell, Mallee Meats were just too strong in this contest. The only rubber that was determined in the minimum three sets was that between the MJM Automotie captain Sabrina Fitzpatrick and Mallee Meats number two Ben Hosking. Of the remainder, there were three five setters and the rest went to four sets.
MJM Automotive took the lead initially, Isaiah Bettess winning in four sets against Hosking. But then Mallee Meats took a run of three rubbers and a lead they were not to relinquish. Mallee Meats number three Ryan Hensgen, who has had a stand out year, defeated Sabrina Fitzpatrick in four sets, his captain Therese Fitzpatrick similarly downed Nick Kiapekos in four.
The first doubles was a beauty – Sabrina and Nick won the first set 12-10, Therese and Ben Hosking bounced back in the second and third 11-4, 11-7, only to see the MJM Automotive pair equalise with a 11-6 win in the fourth. The fifth was close throughout, and it took the Mallee Meats pair a couple of goes, but they got the job done at 13-11 and the score was now 3-1 in their favour.
Sabrina narrowed the lead by one when she defeated Hosking, but that was the end of it. Therese and Isaiah Bettess, juniors both of this club, had a great five set battle, Therese emerging victorious 11-9, 11-13, 6-11, 11-9, 11-9. Ryan Hensgen continued his winning ways, downing Kiapekos in four sets, and stretched the lead to 5-2.
The second doubles was the last hurrah for MJM Automotive, win it or that was it. They started badly, Sabrina and Isaiah losing the first two sets, but they fought back to draw level 2 sets all, but they had spent their energy and Therese and Ryan Hensgen had control in the fifth and closed them out of the contest.
So, Mallee Meats go straight to the Grand Final, and MJM Automotive play Sammy’s Slammers next week. Can Sammy’s Slammers do the unthinkable, and win three games this season?
Final scores: 6 rubbers to 2 and 19 games to 15.