Barrow TTC is heading into the biggest weekend of the Clubs history.
It is hard to believe, but just a year ago Barrow’s first team spectacularly won promotion to the British League Premier Division. Now, just one year on, the team is on the verge of winning the premier British table tennis team title at the first attempt.
Barrow, determined not to fall at the final hurdle, will have a full team present including Paul Drinkhall, the newly crowned English National Champion. Darius Knight will also be making the long journey from the Polish Open to play for Barrow. As impressive as Knight’s journey is, it will be eclipsed by that of team manager Tristran Swan who is travelling a whopping 6400 miles from China to be at the potentially historic weekend.
Over the weekend, Barrow will be looking to hold on to their slender two point lead as they face fifth placed Westfield I, sixth placed Ormesby I, fourth placed DHS Greenhouse Progress I and third placed Fusion I.
Coming away from the last British League Premier Division weekend, there are three things that stand out in my mind:
- How much I had underestimated Ormesby, DHS Greenhouse Progress and Fusion. These teams played tremendously, in particular Jason Sugrue and Sule Olaleye, and our matches were as competitive and intense as our first match against Drumchapel Glasgow. Indeed, on the day, I think our scores against DHS Greenhouse Progress and Fusion flattered us.
- How much Darius Knight has improved. I have yet to see him tested, but his comfortable win over Gareth Herbert who is in tremendous form is testament to how well Darius is playing at the moment.
- That Barrow really is the best team to play for in the British League. I don’t think there is a team with our camaraderie and to see every game well supported, whether it is a match clincher or the last match when everything has been decided is brilliant. Not only that, but everyone gets on so well off the table and it is brilliant to see the players families all involved.
For those that haven’t witnessed a British League Premier weekend, I would go as far as saying last weekend was way better and way more exciting than last season’s English Open finals (during which my girlfriend knitted a scarf as I fell asleep next to her).
Barrow I travelled with a full squad to last weekend’s British League Premier Division at the BATTS table tennis centre in Harlow. The team was buoyant and confident, expecting little in the way of obstacles ahead of the final match of the weekend: a showdown with Drumchapel Glasgow. Complacency breeds contempt, so it was imperative Barrow didn’t let things slip along the way.
Barrow I vs. Ormesby I
Barrow I’s first opponents were Ormesby I, a team that knows how to win and has won the British League on a number of occasions.
After the first weekend, Ormesby occupied 4th place in the league table but, against Barrow, fielded a strengthened team.
Playing for Ormesby I were: Damien Nicholls (England Number 8), John Murphy (Ireland Number 1), Michael Marsden (England Number 13), Karina Le Fevre (England Number 5)
To start, the game went to expectation. Paul Drinkhall comfortably beat John Murphy (14-12, 11-3, 11-5), Gavin Rumgay beat Damien Nicholls (11-9, 11-6, 11-9) and Darius Knight was too strong for Karina Le Fevre (11-8, 12-10, 11-5).
Barrow’s Bradley Evans ranked at 37 in England then faced the seasoned fighter and higher ranked Michael Marsden (England Number 13). Both players seemed to struggle to get settled. Marsden repeatedly served off the end of the table or in to the net. Evans didn’t take advantage, as he proved too inconsistent in the rallies. In the end, Evans’ inconsistency was too much as Marsden battled with himself to take the game in 3 straight sets (7-11, 9-11, 7-11). At the halfway point, Barrow I had a 3-1 lead.
The pattern of the first half was repeated. Drinkhall comfortably beat Nicholls (11-4, 11-4, 11-6), Knight easily beat Murphy (11-9, 11-5, 11-3) and Rumgay came through a tougher than expected match against Marsden (10-12, 11-4, 11-7, 8-11, 11-2). Once again, Evans struggled to get his game going and went down in a surprise defeat to Le Fevre (10-12, 11-13, 7-11) to leave the match score 6-2 to Barrow.
Final Score: Barrow I 6 – 2 Ormesby I
Barrow I: Paul Drinkhall (2), Gavin Rumgay (2), Darius Knight (2), Bradley Evans (0)
Ormesby I: Damien Nicholls (0), John Murphy (0), Michael Marsden (1), Karina Le Fevre (1)
DHS Greenhouse Progress I vs. Barrow I
Barrow I’s second game of the weekend and last for the Saturday was against DHS Greenhouse Progress I. DHS Greenhouse Progress I finished 2nd last year and, two seasons prior to that, had won the British League Premier division a massive 10 seasons on the trot.
Playing for DHS Greenhouse Progress I were: Po Huang Chen (China), Colum Slevin (Ireland), Jason Sugrue (Ireland), Daniel Basterfield (England Number 43)
First up saw Barrow’s Gavin Rumgay face the massive forehand of China’s Po Huang Chen. For all Rumgay’s fight, Chen’s forehand was simply too much to handle as Rumgay went down 11-1, 6-11, 12-10, 11-6. Paul Drinkhall followed for Barrow and scored a comfortable win over the deceivingly-good Colum Slevin (7-11, 10-12, 6-11).
It was then up to Barrow-born Scott Crawford to overcome a much more experienced player in the form of Irish Senior International Jason Sugrue. Crawford went on with the intention of playing his own game, but in the end Sugrue’s experience overcame Crawford’s enthusiasm as he took the game (11-6, 11-8, 11-6). Darius Knight, as composed as ever and looking better than ever overcame Daniel Basterfield (4-11, 8-11, 8-11) to leave the match closely poised 2 apiece at the halfway mark.
Drinkhall, fresh from winning the Polish Open U21’s, was simply too sharp for Chen as he won in three straight sets (5-11, 12-14, 9-11). With the score now 3-2 in Barrow I’s favour, Rumgay faced Sugrue in a match that was an expected win for Barrow. Rumgay lost the first two sets by the narrowest of margins (14-12, 12-10) before staging a come back to take the next two sets (5-11, 7-11). Going into the deciding set it appeared like the momentum was with Rumgay. Sugrue had other ideas though as he raced off to a 7-1 lead. It wasn’t just Rumgay feeling the pressure, the whole Barrow team and travelling supporters did too as they shouted for their man. Rumgay heard the cries, thrived on the pressure, upped the tempo and took the game in the most dramatic of fashion 12-14. The importance of this match cannot be underestimated as it gave Barrow a 4-2 lead.
Barrow’s cool Knight night then faced Slevin. A game needed to guarantee Barrow victory and to ease the pressure off Crawford who would face much higher ranked competition in the final game. At first, Knight was surprised by Slevin’s quality and consistency as he went down in the first set 14-12. Knight held his cool and went on to take the remaining sets and the match by equally tight margins (7-11, 11-13, 10-12).
With the benefit of no pressure, Crawford faced Basterfield, a player ranked 48 places higher in England. Basterfield took the first set 14-12. Crawford then came back in the next set taking it 6-11 before Basterfield scored a comfortable 11-2 victory in the third set. Crawford didn’t let this get to him, he stayed focused and came back to take the next two sets (5-11, 6-11) giving Barrow I a flattering 6-2 win.
Final Score: DHS Greenhouse Progress I 2 – 6 Barrow I
Barrow I: Paul Drinkhall (2), Gavin Rumgay (1), Darius Knight (2), Scott Crawford (1)
DHS Greenhouse Progress I: Po Huang Chen (1), Colum Slevin (0), Jason Sugrue (1), Daniel Basterfield (0)
Barrow I vs. Fusion I
Barrow I’s Sunday started with a match-up against Fusion I, the team Barrow were
promoted to the British League Premier Division with the season before. During their play-off encounter, Barrow and Fusion drew 4 all. However, this team was a very different prospect with former Nigerian International Sule Olaleye the only familiar face.
Playing for Fusion I were: Sule Olaleye (Nigeria), Lorestas Trumpauskas (England Number 14), Kazeem Adisa Adekeke (Nigeria), Mohammed Emran Hussain (England Number 24)
The match opened with Barrow’s Paul Drinkhall facing Lorestas Trumpauskas, the one time Lithuanian National Champion. Trumpauskas was simply outclassed as Drinkhall won 11-3, 11-8, 11-4. Gavin Rumgay then played Sule Olaleye. The game started in dramatic fashion with intense rallying. The titanic first set was eventually settled as Olaleye won 16-18. Olaleye continued to play like a man possessed, his eyes oozing determination. Rumgay covered the court and battled hard, as you would expect Rumgay too. It wasn’t to be though as Olaleye was too much for Rumgay to handle as he took the next two sets 7-11, 2-11.
Darius Knight didn’t get going in the first set against Mohammed Emran Hussain (5-11), but then looked invincible in the following three (11-4, 11-2, 11-4). Laux lost to Kazeem Adisa Adekeke (10-12, 7-11, 11-7, 9-11) in a game he will have come away from thinking he could have done better and maybe should have won. At the halfway point, the match score was Barrow I – 2, Fusion I – 2; there was all to play for.
Olaleye stole the first end off Drinkhall 9-11. Sensing an upset, Olaleye tried his best to psyche out and eyeball Drinkhall. Too experienced to let such mind games affect him, Drinkhall upped his game and won the free flowing rallies that ensued. Drinkhall’s power was the difference as he won the next three sets 11-2, 11-9, 11-8. Knight then proceeded to beat Trumpauskas (11-8, 11-13, 11-6, 11-6), Rumgay overcame Adekeke in a fashionably tough five-set battle (11-9, 11-6, 4-11, 8-11, 11-8) and Laux comfortably overcame the downbeat Hussain (11-3, 14-12, 11-7) to give Barrow I a 6-2 victory.
Final Score: Barrow I 6 – 2 Fusion I
Barrow I: Paul Drinkhall (2), Gavin Rumgay (1), Darius Knight (2), Sebastian Laux (1)
Fusion I: Sule Olaleye (1), Lorestas Trumpauskas (0), Kazeem Adisa Adekeke (1), Mohammed Emran Hussain (0)
Barrow I vs. Drumchapel Glasgow I
The last match of the weekend saw the start of the second half of the British League season. For Barrow I, this meant a rematch with fellow title contenders Drumchapel Glasgow I.
In the first match, Barrow I won by the tightest of margins 5-3. This gave Barrow a two-point lead over Drumchapel Glasgow, which they have managed to maintain ever since.
Barrow fielded the same side as the last time the two teams faced each other. Drumchapel Glasgow made one switch with Welsh Number 3 Stephen Jenkins coming in for Scottish Number 2 Craig Howieson.
Playing for Drumchapel Glasgow I were: Ryan Jenkins (Wales Number 2), Gareth Herbert (England Number 9), Terry Young (England Number 12), Stephen Jenkins (Wales Number 3)
The match got under way with Barrow’s Paul Drinkhall facing Drumchapel Glasgow’s Gareth Herbert, a player who had been playing magnificently throughout the weekend. Drinkhall took the first set (11-4) and Herbert the second (5-11). In the third set Herbert was on fire and took a 0-6 lead. Drinkhall fought back to 8-10 before Herbert took a timeout, gathered his composure and came back to the table to take the set 8-11. Drinkhall was now 2-1 down in a match that it was imperative he won if Barrow were to beat Drumchapel Glasgow. The smart money would have been on Herbert at 9-9 in the fourth set with Herbert serving. However, Paul flicked the first serve for a winner and then won the next point against the serve to win 11-9. With everything tied in the final set of a must-win game for Barrow, the pressure was on. Drinkhall came good and took the final set 11-7 to give Barrow the early lead.
Next Gavin Rumgay faced Ryan Jenkins. Of late, it has been Jenkins that has been getting the better of Rumgay. Rumgay was looking good as he took the first set (11-7) and he was unlucky to loose the second (10-12). Despite playing his best table tennis of the weekend, Rumgay didn’t have what was needed to beat Jenkins as he lost the next two sets (7-11, 8-11) and the match.
Darius Knight once again quietly went about doing the business as he comfortably beat Stephen Jenkins (11-6, 11-6, 13-11). Sebastian Laux wasn’t able to avenge his defeat against the strong-looking Terry Young (9-11, 11-13, 4-11). At the halfway point, this left the match 2 apiece.
It was then Drinkhall’s turn to face Ryan Jenkins in a game Drinkhall would expect to win. At first, Drinkhall looked to be cruising as he comfortably took the first two sets (11-8, 11-4). Jenkins’ tactics didn’t look to have changed drastically, but Drinkhall did seem to be tiring as Jenkins fought back to take the next to sets (9-11, 7-11). In the Barrow camp the tension could be felt. Again, this was a must-win game that was on the cusp of swinging in the favour of Drumchapel Glasgow. In the fifth and final set, as the players switched ends, Drinkhall held a comfortable 5-2 lead. Drinkhall began to look ever more tired as the momentum switched to Jenkins. Jenkins recovered to 8-7 and then found himself 8-9 up. On the next point Jenkins caught the net to give himself an important 8-10 lead. There was still hope for Barrow as Drinkhall is famed around the world for playing his best table tennis at moments like these. Drinkhall took the next point, 9 -10. Everyone watched in silence with a feeling of expectation. On this occasion it wasn’t to be, Jenkins took the next point to win the game and give Drumchapel Glasgow the lead for the first time. The score was now 3-2 to Drumchapel Glasgow.
For Barrow, the next match was vital. Knight versus an in-form Herbert whose serve and deathly touch and feel is feared. The conviction with which Knight won (11-9, 7-11, 11-6, 11-7) is a reflection on how much his game has improved over the last couple of months as he retained his 100% record. Rumgay and Young then entertained, but it was Rumgay that took home the victory (13-11, 7-11, 11-4, 13-11).
With the last seven matches consigned to history, the score 4-3 in Barrow’s favour, it was up to Laux to seal an all-important victory for Barrow. At first, Laux struggled to read and return Stephen Jenkins serves as he lost the first two sets convincingly (6-11, 5-11). In the third end, Laux started to get into the game as the pressure mounted on the shoulders of Jenkins. With the score at 4-2 to Laux, the umpire called a questionable let as Jenkins crashed through the barriers on a point Laux was sure to win. It was clear both players and teams couldn’t understand the reason for the let call, the umpire made no attempt to give an answer as he just stared forward. With so much at stake, Jenkins didn’t show any sportsmanship and play resumed.
At this point it seemed things weren’t going to go Barrow’s way. Thankfully, the let call didn’t have any bearing on the rest of the set as Laux held his nerve and went on to win 11-8. Going into the fourth set, backed by strong vocal support, Laux continued to throw everything he had into the match. It wasn’t to be though as Jenkins held strong and took the fourth set 6-11 to earn Drumchapel Glasgow a valuable draw.
Final Score: Barrow I 4 – 4 Drumchapel Glasgow I
Barrow I: Paul Drinkhall (1), Gavin Rumgay (1), Darius Knight (2), Sebastian Laux (0)
Drumchapel Glasgow I: Ryan Jenkins (2), Gareth Herbert (0), Terry Young (1), Stephen Jenkins (1)
Tristran Swan, Barrow TTC team manager, looks ahead to the second British League Premier Division weekend with BBC Radio Cumbria’s Paul Newton.
This weekend, Barrow I will be making the long journey south to Old Harlow to play the second of four weekends that constitute the British League Premier division season.
Barrow I currently top the table with four wins from four, including an important 5-3 victory over reigning champions Drumchapel Glasgow.
Barrow I’s opening Saturday fixture is not only tough, but has an interesting twist. It comes in the form of an experienced team from a northeast club co-founded by Barrow TTC coach Denis Neale in 1957, Ormesby. This is the team that Neale won the European Club cup with in 1972, the only English team to ever do so. After that, Barrow I face London club DHS Greenhouse Progress.
Sunday’s aperitif comes in the form of a match-up between Barrow I and Fusion, the team Barrow were promoted with after last season’s play-offs. It is then time for the main course, the British League crunch match of the decade, the return fixture against Drumchapel Glasgow.
Speaking about the weekend and the Drumchapel Glasgow fixture in particular, Barrow Team Manager Tristran Swan commented,
“Only Drumchapel Glasgow concerns me. Barrow and Drumchapel are a class apart from the other teams in the division. Saying that, we can’t afford to go easy as a loss against Drumchapel will bring all the other results into play.”
“The Drumchapel game is massive. The players know it and they know what is at stake. A win will make us very strong favourites for the title. A draw will put us in a perilous position, as we can’t guarantee that our top players will always be available. For me, a loss will be a disaster as I don’t believe we can beat Drumchapel on game difference.”
“There will be a few key games (in the match against Drumchapel). Assuming they have the same squad, the match between Gavin (Rumgay) and Ryan Jenkins is hugely important as are the matches involving our number 4 player (player to be announced).”
British League Premier Division First Weekend Table
British League Premier Division Results
British League Premier Division Barrow Player Averages
British League Premier Division Table Tennis returns to one of it’s spiritual homes next weekend and anyone with some spare time on their hands would be well advised to visit the DHS Greenhouse Progress Tournament Centre, Southall College, Beaconsfield Road, Southall, Middlesex, UB1 1DP on Saturday / Sunday 18/19 September 2010. Action kicks off at 11.00 am on the Saturday and at 10.00 am on the Sunday morning and admission is free. The venue is a three minute walk from Southall main line station.
Champions for the last two years Drumchapel Glasgow (Ryan Jenkins, Qian Hai Song, new signing Gareth Herbert, Terry Young, Craig Howieson and Stephen Jenkins) couldn’t possibly face a tougher challenge in their first match. They will be up against promoted Barrow whose star-studded squad of Paul Drinkhall, Gavin Rumgay, Darius Knight, newcomer Sebastian Laux, Bradley Evans and Jonathan Crawford will take some beating. This promises to be a match of the highest order between two of the best squads ever to have played in the British League. Both sides are understandably reluctant to commit exactly who will be playing for them but Barrow have high hopes that their English international stars – Paul and Darius will be available – not withstanding their commitments in this week’s European Championships.
Other matches that should be competitive are the Saturday afternoon clash between promoted Fusion and Westfield who finished a magnificent third last year. Fusion have added Adelele Kaseem Adisa to an already strong squad of Sule Olaleye, Loresas Trumpauskas, Mark Smith, Tommy Cutler and Emran Hussain whilst Westfield look to have a nicely balanced side – Niall Cameron, Richard Andrews, Shuan Marples, Alim Hirji and Mark Simpson.
BATTS have ventured into the transfer market and the acquisition of former Ellenborough players Thomas Bennborn and John Nilsson allied to the tried and tested skills of Wang Zheng, Craig Bryant, Martin Kubrt and Jimmy Walsh gives them a strong look as well. They will be looking forward to their Saturday morning clash with Fusion and their Sunday morning match against Westfield.
Champions for ten successive years – DHS Greenhouse Progress finished a fine second last time and although that might be a bit beyond them this year they still have a very strong team. Pick any four from Chen Po “Barry” Huang, Colum Slevin, Jason Sugrue, Da Qing Tong, Fei Ming Tong and Ashley Willetts and you can see what I mean. With players of the calibre of Daniel Basterfield and Igor Morais “knocking on the door” they have strength in depth as well. Sycamore finished fifth last year and they have secured the services of a new number one – Omkar Torgalkar. He will be joined by Stewart Crawford, Kevin Dolder, Sean Cullen, Sam Perry, Daniel Lowe and Jason Ramage. Expect Sycamore’s Sunday afternoon match against Ormesby to be a cracker.
The Middlesbrough giants haven’t added to their squad but their hard-hitting side of Michael Marsden, David Meads, Nigel Eckersley, Patrick “Paddy” Thomas and Andy Wilson will be hopeful of consolidating their excellent fourth place of last Season.
Steve Kerns (British League Press Officer)
Barrow I will be facing the following teams and players in the Premier Division of the British League 2010/2011 Season.
DHS Greenhouse Progress I
Chen Po Huang
Da Qing Tong
Fei Ming Tong
Drumchapel Glasgow I
Qian Hai Song
Adelele Kaseem Adisa
Barrow I British League Premier Division Fixtures
Barrow II British League Division 2 North Fixtures