Fourteen year old Alice Loveridge from Guernsey, in her
first ever Tees Sport sponsored Butterfly Senior Grand Prix, took the gold
medal in the Womenís Band One event on the first dayís play at the
Wavertree Tennis Centre in Liverpool.
Guernsey, famous for its banking and as a tax haven, can now boast a very
talented young lady who has the potential to make team GB for 2012, and
with this in mind the BTTF based in Sheffield has surely made a sound
offshore investment in Aliceís future, by placing her firmly in the Talent
Alice was made to fight all the way to her debut title victory after a
titanic struggle at the semi-final stage against another top junior,
Karina Le Fevre in five close sets, and then follow up with a gutsy four
set win over a very gallant Stephanie Donnelly in the final.
Stephanie had played extremely well to grind out a five set win against
Claire Nelson at the quarter-final stage, and then take her place in the
final with Alice after another great performance over Hannah Hicks in the
The first Butterfly Grand Prix of the season had a truly international
mixture of players, with contenders competing from the Czech Republic,
Poland, Latvia, Hungary, Germany, and nearer to home a strong challenge
from Wales, Ireland, Scotland, the Isle of Man and Guernsey.
It was to be one of these visiting players that took the podium top spot
in the Menís Band One competition. Nineteen year old Raphael Graf from
Lieselheim in South West Germany took the winner's cheque for £60 in
relative ease on his way to the title. Adam Laws caused the German the
most problems in the group stage, going down in five sets, however from
then on Graf got the better of young Zak Zilesnick in four sets, and
then went on to overcome Alim Hirji and Remi Petrosius, to take him to a
final showdown with Hampshire Junior David McBeath. McBeath had enjoyed an
excellent tournament, recording victories against Jonathan Crawford,
Julien Gittens, Darren Reed, and then Richard Andrews at the last four
stage. The final was a one sided affair with the German Division 3 player
taking the title in straight sets.
A pattern was soon emerging of the younger players dominating all the
banded events on the first dayís play in Liverpool.
The Womenís Band Two crown went to the dynamic young cadet superstar,
Chloe Whyte from Cleveland, defeating Scotlandís Natasha Milliken in the
final, and then went so close to taking the Womenís Band Three title,
losing out in four tight sets to another top cadet, Laura Robinson from
England number one in under 13s boys, Zak Zilesnick, was victorious in
Menís Band Two, with a superlative performance against Chris Smith in an
all action packed final. Both these juniors gave everything possible with
some very hard hitting long topspin rallies covering all parts of the
table, with Zilesnick just nicking it 11-8 in the fifth end.
Irelandís ever improving junior, Ashley Robinson, had a super day taking
both Menís Band Three and Four titles, which puts him firmly in the hunt
for player of the weekend. Ashley defeated Beijing bound Paralympian Will
Bayley in a five set final, following up with another determined
exhibition of top quality table tennis to take double gold against Warren
Slaney in the Menís Band Three final.
Polandís Taj Kudryk shone in the 72 player entry of Menís Band Five, with
a powerful performance against Nick Rate from Lincolnshire in five sets.
Kudryk almost took Menís Band Six, losing out to Myles Collins from Avon
in a four close set final.
The Liverpool "Player Focus" features one of the unsung heroes of the
Grand Prix circuit. The legend called Helmuth Osborne is an ever popular
competitor at these events and continues to try to pull himself out of
Menís Band Six, after 4 years of competing. The 50 year old extremely
likeable character with what can only be described as having an unorthodox
playing style, just loves playing table tennis. A professional
photographer by trade, Helmuth is regularly seen competing in the Worksop
and Sheffield leagues in his spare evenings, and has been known to go
anywhere in his quest to improve. Training camps and competitions have
taken him as far afield as Jersey, Guernsey, Sweden, Hungary and Taiwan,
with his claim to fame as having been the only competitor to participate
in every Grand Prix and satellite event three years ago. For this
achievement he was presented with a special award, and as his friends call
it, "The Helmuth Osborne" trophy.