Hat-trick Hero Walker
20th November 2011
Sam Walker was king in Hatfield at the Junior and Cadet National Championships sponsored by Tees Sport. His 3 titles from 3 events was the best he could have hoped for from his 3 top seed positions. With the big entry this weekend Sam remained undefeated in an impressive 17 matches over the course of the day.
Sam’s first title came in the Junior Boys’ Singles event, and he didn’t have it all his own way. His quarter final match with Jared Patel was a big test, as he came back from 2-1 down to take it in the fifth set. Joining Sam in the semi-final was Igor Morais. He got there by virtue of a 3-0 win over Adam Harrison (who had earlier dispatched seventh seed Liam McTiernan). After his long quarter-final Sam wasn’t going to make the same mistake again this time powering through Igor over a rapid-fire 3 games to reach his first final of the day.
In the other half of the draw Lewis Gray made his way into the semi-final with a 3-1 over Grantham College training partner Lawrence Sweeney. Also taking a 3-1 win in the quarter-finals was Helshan Weerasinghe as he beat Dom Sussex. In the semi-final Lewis set off by far the better and established a comfortable looking 2-0 lead. However, Helshan had other ideas, he took the third set, and followed that by taking the fourth. With the momentum going his way Helshan pushed on through the fifth set to secure himself a 3-2 win and his position in the final. In the final Sam carried through the impressive form he had shown earlier against Igor. He raced through the final in 3 straight sets to take the National Junior Singles title home.
The Junior Girls’ had to do something special compete with the boys’ event, but they managed that, with the help of plenty of surprise results. First of the girls’ quarter-finals put Naomi Jackson and Jessica Dawson together. Naomi had advanced through the last 16 with a walkover as Emily Bates pulled out after being injured by her mixed doubles partner Jared Patel. Jessica had much more of a struggle to secure her quarter-final place, she had survived going the full five sets with Janay Gibson to advance. In their quarter-final Jessica secured a 3-1 win and the chance to take on Tin-Tin Ho in the semi-final. Tin-Tin made the semi-final after a 3-0 win over Megan Knowles. But it was Jessica who would make the final as she recorded an excellent 3-2 win over the number 3 seed. The bottom half of the draw was also full of surprises. Vicky Smith surprised Tressa Armitage to advance 3-1, and Abbie Milwain dispatched number 2 seeded Yolanda King 3-0. Abbie continued her march with another 3-0 victory, this time over semi-final opponent Vicky. Jessica and Abbie put on a great free flowing final with lots of open topspin rallies. With the early games tight and the scores level at 1-1 Jessica managed to break Abbie’s run and take the Junior Girls’ Singles title 3-1.
Emma Tovey and Jas Ould were first of the Girls’ Doubles quarter-finalists where they took on Abbie Milwain and Isobel Ashley. The Derbyshire pair of Isobel and Abbie came through to reach the final with a 3-1 win over the Kent pairing. Also finding their way to the final was Yolanda King and Tin-Tin Ho who got there at the expense of Megan Knowles and Emma Torkington. In the final Tin-Tin and Yolanda seemed keen to make up for their earlier exit from the singles as they took a 3-1 win despite Abbie and Isobel’s best efforts.
Sam Walker and Tressa Armitage were top seeds in the Mixed Doubles and made the final courtesy of a walkover due to the withdrawal of Emily Bates and Jared Patel. They withdrew after Jared hit Emily’s hand mid-rally towards the end of their quarter-final game. Despite holding on to see out the quarter-final match Emily was unable to continue leaving Sam and Tressa free to advance. The other semi-final saw Igor Morais and Girls’ singles champion, Jessica Dawson face Helshan Weerasinghe and Tin-Tin Ho. After Morais and Dawson took the first set it was Weerasinghe and Ho that took the rest, but it was still close with two games finishing in deuce. So it was a second final for both Sam Walker and Helshan Weerasinghe. This time Helshan seemed seemed set on revenge as he and Tin-Tin established a 2-0 lead. But for the second time today, Sam wasn’t beaten when he was down. He and Tressa fought hard to get back to 2-2, and from there never looked like losing in the final set, sealing it 3-2 and adding to Sam’s title in the Boys’ Singles.
Last of the day’s events was the Junior Boys’ Doubles. Once again Sam Walker was top seed, this time partnered by Lewis Gray. Also once again Sam had to come from behind in a match. Sam and Lewis found themselves 2-1 and 9-6 down against Dom Sussex and Mike Fraser. But in Sam’s now familiar style, he and Lewis came back to take the win in the fifth and final set to book their semi-final place. Joining them in the semi-final was Jared Patel and Liam McTiernan. After their earlier scare Sam and Lewis took no risks as they came through their match 3-0 to set up Sam’s attempt for the hat-trick. Trying to stop Sam from sweeping the titles was his rival for all his finals over the day Helshan Weerasinghe, who was this time partnered by Sam Mabey. But once more it was Sam who came out on top and Helshan who had to settle for second. Lewis and Sam took the win 3-0 against Helshan and Sam and so sealed a memorable set of titles for Sam Walker to take on his trip home.
With the junior titles being taken home on last night attention turns to the cadet event on today. If you can’t be with us in Hatfield why not follow all the action live on twitter @ETTATableTennis.
See all the results of the day by clicking here