Photo shows L to R
Trevor Owens, Peter Taylor, Keith Williams, Billy Cheung, Ahmed Thabet,
Peter Lee, Neil Baker, Rachel Baker, Umpire Stan Clarke, Jasmin Yang,
John Higham, Arthur Knowlson
Div. 2 The Dr. J. Rumjahn Cup was contested between the two top teams in the division, Christ the King ĎAí, s Peter Lee, Ahmed Thabet and Billy Cheung against Harold House ĎAís Rachel Baker, Neil Baker and Jasmin Yang. Both teams changed from their normal league teams, CtK were without their regular No. 1 Omid Khaiyat, replaced by Billy from the ĎBí team, and H.H. without their regular No. 1. Alec Bryce, and No.2 Steve Whalley, who were replaced by two young stars, Rachel who just qualified, having already played 6 league matches for the 1st team, and Jasmin who had played 5 for the 1st team, so who was going to benefit most from these changes!!
Harold House ĎAí won the toss and went for the away team and 1st call, Rachel v Billy, this was a good start for the match, going to 5 games, Rachel was 6-2 up and playing well but Billy pulled back to 6 all, level to 10 all, Billy winning 14-12, 2nd game again saw Rachel go into a 6-2 lead, Billy pulling back to 7-6, but Rachel didnít let this one go, winning 11-6. Game 3 was a close thing all the way, Billy winning 15-13. Last 2 games saw Rachel settling down better, winning both 5 & 6, so a good start to the nightís T.T., 1-0 to H.H.
2nd call saw Peter call himself on against Neil, 1st game saw Neil in full control, except for some fast blocking and a couple of edges from Peter, Neil won 11-6. A wake up call to Peter, concentrating on slowing the game down, using his changing slow returns and blocking Neilís hard hitting, put him in control, winning the next 2 games 5 & 5. 4th game saw Neil getting to grips with Peterís returns, hitting through them to win 11-7. So another 5th game decider, Neil gave Peter a good omen by serving off his 1st serve, Peter was 5-2 up at the change, and kept the pressure up to win 11-8, One Set all.
3rd call to H.H. Jasmin v Ahmed, Ahmedís use of spin and slow returns were upsetting Jasmin a bit whoís game was speed and hard hitting, Ahmed off to a good start winning the first game 11-9, and a much closer 2nd game 13-11, this game had a bit of play acting from both players, Ahmed continually bouncing the ball between points and Jasmin spending a lot of time putting her hair in place, forcing the umpire to ask for Ďcontinuous play pleaseí. The 3rd game went to Jasmin who managed to speed up the game, winning 11-9, but again Ahmed managed to contain Jasmin with his pushing, forcing Jasmine into a cat and mouse game which was in Ahmedís favour, winning 11-7, so CtK 2-1 up.
4th call to Peter, calling himself on against Rachel, and going into a 2 game lead, 3rd game saw the pressure building up for Peter, Rachelís fast hard hitting game was taking its toll on peter, (physically!) winning games 3&4, the 5th game saw Rachel 5-3 up at the turn, but Peter managed to draw on that wealth of experience to get to Rachelís hits, blocking and counter hitting, to pull back to 7 all, Rachel serves, clips net and off, Peter serves 9-7 up and holds on to win 11-7, another great set., CtK 3-1 up.
5th call to H.H. Jasmin v Billy, after Jasminís game against Ahmed, she wasnít going to allow Billy to control the game and kept up a fast attacking game, each game was similar in the fact that Billy kept in contact as the game went on but couldnít pull away, and if there was any luck about, it went Jasminís way, pulling off a 3 straight win, 9-7-7. 3-2 to CtK.
6th call to CtK, Ahmed v Neil, Ahmedís spin and pushing wasnít Neilís game, Ahmed gaining a quick 11-7 win, but Neil learnt something, cos he started throwing caution to the wind, going for his fast and top spinning hits to comfortably take the next 3 games 4-5 & 7. CtK. 3 Ė H.H. 3.
7th call to H.H. who call Peter to play Jasmin, where Jasmin had struggled to cope with Ahmedís spins and pushing, she had the same problem with Peter, who also used the blocking of Jasminís hard hitting to angle his returns, both struggled to return the opposite serves, but once under way, Peter controlled most points to take the set in 3 straight 7-8 & 11, so CtK back in front 4 Ė 3.
At 10-20pm, CtKís next call saw Billy v Neil, first game saw Neil powering through to win 11-6, but next game saw Billy up a gear, Neil losing his cool a bit, Billy going into a good lead blocking many of neilís hits, one moment of light, Neil returns form back of court, Billy waits for it to land for a final smash, it lands on net, drops off edge, Billy sticks, his bat at it, for a great return across the table, smiles all round, 2nd game to Billy, 11-4, but Neil took the next 2 games 7 & 11, so 4 all a 9th set decider.
The last set started with a very close game, at 10 all Ahmed serves and misses a sitter, but wins the next, 11 Rachel wins next 2 points, game 2 sees Rachel getting used to Ahmedís serves and pushing to hit through a lot of points to take the next game 11-9. Game 3 was close with Rachel 10-7 up for the decider, but Ahmed pulled back to 10 all, then 11 all, 12 all, 13 all, like holding the tide back, Rachel takes the next 2, game, set and match, having seen the first 7 sets take on average 24 minutes each the last critical 2 sets were over in 25 minutes for a win to Harold House ĎAí 5 Ė 4 to retain the Cup they won last season, I think the unfortunate team change to CtK made the difference, well done to oldy Peter for his 100%, but congrats to the young H.H. team for the comeback.
Thanks to Jim Geddes and Bootle YMCA for the Venue and after match refreshments, and Stan Clarke as the Official Umpire who presented the trophies, match official Roly Wright