The 79th Sheffield closed table tennis championships sponsored by Redtooth proved to be a huge success for players and spectators alike.
Stephen Horsfield again showed he is a phenomenal Sheffield champion as he claimed a record eighth open singles crown at the English Institute for Sport.
In my view, legendary status can now be afforded to Stephen who triumphed against Simon Pugh in a final that went the distance.
Stephen, ranked 9 in England’s veteran’s list, also provided a demonstration of his resilience by playing the mixed doubles final; followed by a semi final against defending champion Jack Grant, before overcoming the fourth seed - Simon Pugh - 11-8 in the deciding game of the final, in rapid succession with no respite. It was a true performance of valour.
The Stocksbridge ace’s day was capped off by a tenth men’s doubles title, this time in tandem with Mark Short, who earlier had won the Division One final with a narrow victory over club mate - Warren Li Kim Wa.
Isobel Ashley maintained her dominance of the women’s singles event, retaining her title despite a tremendous challenge from Zoe Cheesman (Stocksbridge). The England number 29’s credentials stood up to a serious examination from Cheesman - rated 35 - as she ran out a winner over five games. This was Isobel’s fourth consecutive singles crown, as she pursues the record number of seven currently shared by Sarah (Smith) Short and Leslie Proudlock. Isobel also doubled up by retaining the ladies doubles crown alongside Judi Walker (Crookes).
Sheffield closed debutantes Nick Ryder and Zoe Cheesman (Stocksbridge B) took the honours in the mixed doubles final with a 3-1 win over Stephen Horsfield and Pat Thorley (NGH).
The veteran’s singles becomes more challenging as the years roll by and Darren Lindley (Stocksbridge B) added his name to a prodigious list of champions with a 3-0 triumph over Mark Short.
The lack of female competition has been a concern for several years, to further promote the women’s game the tournament committee decided last season to introduce a women’s handicap event for division’s three to six. It was refreshing to see Abbeydale’s Sarah Thorne emerge as champion following wins over Sophie Blake, Pat Thorley and defending champion Chrissie Sykes. It’s hoped through events of this type, we can strengthen women’s table tennis in Sheffield.
Rotherham Scorpions’ young prodigy Adam Szabo waltzed through the handicap singles with a comfortable win over Chris Hoole (Albert Premier). However, in the final of the Cadet’s singles, Redtooth’s Jake Cutts proved too much of a handful for Szabo as he romped to a 3-0 win in defence his crown. Cutt’s repeated the performance against Adam as he retained his junior title. The over 60’s event provided a touch of nostalgia when Vulcan’s David Rayner overcame Cliff Glaves senior in the final to claim his first Sheffield title since 1992 following a twenty five year absence!