Table Tennis News Magazine British League Play-Off Article
Barrow (Jakov Krivić, Bradley Evans, Jonathan Crawford and Scott Crawford) are the 2010 British League Play-Off Champions. They excelled at Cippenham Table Tennis Club in May, by winning four of their matches and drawing with closest rivals Fusion who are also promoted to the British League Premier Division.
Barrow’s campaign began with a 5-3 victory over TTK Greenhouse. Predictably Gareth Herbert caused them the most problems and he beat both world-ranked Croatian player Jakov Krivić and Bradley Evans, 3-1whilst Jide Owolabi also impressed. Jide beat Scott Crawford 11-7, 13-11, 6-11, 8-11, 11-5. Jonathan Crawford’s two victories over Fatlum Sadiku and Chris Lewis ensured that Barrow got off to a winning start.
Barrow were able to build on this by beating ELGRE Nottingham 7-1 in round two. England no. six Veteran Chris Rogers scored a fine win over Bradley Evans, 9-11, 11-8, 12-10, 10-12, 11-5 although he found all-action Jakov Krivić a trickier proposition. Krivić never looked in trouble winning 11-4, 11-1, 7-11, 11-5.
The two sides with unbeaten records came face to face in round three and it looked as if Fusion might take both points when they surged into a 4-2 lead. Former Olympian Sule Olaleye played his part by beating Jakov Krivić after all had looked lost when he trailed 9-7 in the fifth end. Sule kept his nerve superbly to win 10-12, 11-2, 14-12, 4-11, 11-9 and Fusion’s Mark Smith scored his second win by beating Bradley Evans, 12-10, 11-6, 11-6. It was left to brothers Jonathan and Scott Crawford to keep Barrow’s hopes alive. And didn’t they play well. England no. 59 Jonathan scored a magnificent 11-3, 8-11, 11-9, 11-9 victory over England no. 42 Tommy Cutler and England no. 109 Scott managed to repel the challenge of a pumped up John Dennison 11-7, 7-11, 23-21, 11-7 after a truly spell-binding encounter.
Barrow now had the bit between their teeth and they did well to beat third- placed Pavilion Brighton 6-2 in round four, killing off any hopes Brighton had of gaining promotion. Jakov Krivić and Jonathan Crawford were both undefeated, with Jonathan’s quick-fire victory over Ashley Stokes (11-5, 11-7, 11-9) standing out. This match also unearthed another player to look out for. 16 year old Da Shuai “Dash” Zhang looks way under-ranked as England no. 88 and he scored two fine five game wins over Scott Crawford and Bradley Evans,.
Going into the last round of matches Fusion and Barrow were tied on seven points and 22 games won. It really could not have been closer. Four players went into the last round with 100 % records – Fusion’s Sule Olaleye and Mark Smith, Barrow’s Jonathan Crawford and TTK Greenhouse’s Gareth Herbert. Who would hold onto their undefeated records ?. Hands up if you would have said Gareth Herbert ! . It didn’t work out that way. Fusion looked as if they might be in the ascendancy when rally player supreme Tommy Cutler, playing with his customer composure and returning Gareth’s serves superbly beat the former England no. two 6-11, 11-7, 9-11, 12-10, 11-8 to give themselves a 2-0 lead. But, Gareth fought back to beat Sule 11-5, 9-11, 11-8, 4-11, 11-4 and TTK’s Jide Owolabi scored a fine 11-8, 11-7, 11-3 victory over John Dennison which left Fusion as 6-2 winners. Mark Smith retained his 100 % record by beating both Fatlum Sadiku and Chris Lewis. He powered his way past Chris Lewis 11-5, 11-5, 11-8.
Barrow turned in an even better performance and they beat OLOP Impact 8-0. All four Barrow players played their part. Jakov Krivić made it eight wins out of ten for the weekend by beating both Chris Bush and David Barr 3-0 whilst Bradley Evans, had to pull out all the stops to get the better of Hari Gehlot 11- 7, 13-11, 7-11, 10-12, 12-10. Jonathan Crawford retained his 100 % record with 3-0 wins over Liam McTiernan and Chris Bush and Scott Crawford was equally impressive, beating both McTiernan and Hari Gehlot 3-0. Barrow took the title by virtue of having won two more games than their South London rivals – a magnificent performance.