Eckley regains county men's singles title

First published in Sport

TOBY Eckley has regained the Herefordshire County Table Tennis singles title after a gap of 11 years.

Eckley, who won the title in 2003 and was beaten finalist in 2004, beat newcomer Patryk Kowacz in the final at Queen Elizabeth Humanities College.

Eckley had pulled off a surprise win against defending champion and top seed Mark Owen in the semi-final while Kowacz defeated Andy Castle to earn his final place.

Victory in the singles was part of a twin success for Eckley, who teamed up with Ola Andersson in the Men’s Doubles to defend the title they won last year by seeing off the challenge of Owen and Ady Marshall.

Owen and Marshall won the first game to eight but the champions took the next two - both to eight - before dropping the fourth game to five. The fifth game eventually saw Andersson and Eckley win by 11.7.

Owen did have some silverware to take home after victory in the Veterans’ Singles, which has been renamed the Bill Ardern Trophy in recognition of the work that the late Bill Ardern did for the county game.

Owen beat Andy Castle and the pair then teamed up for victory in the veterans doubles where they beat Paul Oatley and Steve Brown.

Oatley was also beaten in straight games by Trevor Davies in the final of the Super Veterans competition.

Andy Castle partnered his daughter, Zoe, in the mixed doubles against Andy’s sister, Margaret Shock and Brian Kitchener. Shock and Kitchener won after the longest match of the night by 12.10, 4.11, 14.16, 12.10 and 13.11.

The Ladies' final saw two competitors who have returned to the county scene after several years’ break contest the championship with Pauline Hart defeating Anthea Knight by 15.13, 11.7 and 11.6.

The pair then teamed up to beat Zoe Castle and Margaret Shock in the ladies' doubles.

The Junior Singles was contested by the same pair who met in last year's final with Elliot Volpé winning a close and long battle against Matthew Knight.

Volpé also collected a Grade ‘B’ final win with victory over Jake Price.

Kowacz beat Jack Castle by 33.32 in the Nimmie Hodges Trophy, played under completely different rules, and also contested the final of the restricted singles where he was beaten by Colin Dowding.

Richard Maddrell had a close match with Harry Jutle before winning the Restricted Veterans Singles title.

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