The winners (from left) Scarlett O'Neil, Denise Payet, Thomas Rayner and James Smith (picture by Alan Man)

Smith, Payet, Rayner and O’Neil are champions

Author:
Paul Stimpson

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Please note - this news article was published more than two years ago. Some of the information contained may no longer be correct.

Denise Payet and James Smith kept 100% records across nine gruelling matches to become the first Cadet National Cup champions.

Thomas Rayner was the Under-12 Boys’ champion, while Scarlett O’Neil beat Ruby Chan in the final match to seal the Under-12 Girls’ crown.

With 35 of the best young players in England competing in Bristol, the quality of the event was high.

Smith held off top seed Ethan Walsh, who took silver ahead of Harry Dai, while Payet took gold ahead of Mollie Patterson and Charlotte Bardsley.

Following Rayner were Louis Price and Rhys Davies, with Jasmine Williams claiming bronze behind O’Neil and Chan.

Cadet Boys

James Smith changed his tactics at 2-0 down to Ethan Walsh in the key final match.

Smith, with eight wins out of eight to that point would nevertheless have been beaten to the top prize on head-to-head record had Walsh – beaten by Jonny McMullan on day one – won the match.

And Walsh certainly had a degree of momentum as he had won his previous two matches against Harry Dai and Shayan Siraj from seemingly impossible positions.

And at 2-0 up it looked as if the Stevenage youngster’s name might be on the cup. But Smith changed his approach and won four on the spin to complete his perfect record with a 4-2 (4-11, 9-11, 11-5, 13-11, 11-9, 11-9) victory.

“I was 2-0 down because I was too passive,” said Smith. “I realised I would have to go for it and when I did I started winning – I’m very happy to win the trophy.”

Earlier, something had to give in the first round of the day as the two owners of 100% records clashed as Smith took on Dai.

It needed seven games to separate them and drew quite a crowd as the last match of the round to finish.

With neither taking a backward step, in the end Smith took it 4-3 (12-10, 9-11, 11-9, 9-11, 7-11, 12-10, 11-8) on the first match point to move into the sole lead in the standings.

Walsh kept up his interest at the top as he shook off Jamie Liu in six (11-5, 11-8, 8-11, 11-9, 5-11, 11-5).

Also in the first round of the day, Josh Weatherby shaded Amirul Hussain in a match worthy of the rollercoaster cliché, as it finished 4-3 (6-11, 12-10, 11-5, 9-11, 4-11, 11-5, 11-7) in favour of the Sunderland lad.

For a long time it appeared Round 7 would put the cat among the pigeons as Siraj led Smith and Dai headed Walsh.

Smith came from 1-0 and 2-1 down to overcome third seed Siraj 4-2, and while Dai was up against Walsh, Smith sensed one hand on the trophy. But Walsh turned it around to inflict Dai’s second defeat by a 4-3 scoreline (11-7, 10-12, 8-11, 6-11, 11-8, 13-11, 11-8) and set up that summit clash with Smith in the last round.

Almost under the radar the same round, Hussain came back from 3-1 down to defeat Sam Chesterman 4-3 (11-4, 7-11, 7-11, 8-11, 11-7, 11-3, 13-11).

Walsh was at it again in Round 8 as he came from 3-1 down against Siraj to win in seven – and he saved three match points from 10-7 down in the decider as he took it 11-6, 6-11, 6-11, 7-11, 11-6, 11-8, 13-11. Smith’s win was a less headline-grabbing 4-1 over Chesterman.

Dai kept up his bid for third by seeing off Moyes in six, while Hussain had a third seven-game marathon in a row, on this occasion storming back from 3-0 down to overcome McMullan 4-3 (4-11, 8-11, 4-11, 11-9, 11-7, 11-7, 11-9).

The final standings in the Cadet Boys

The final standings in the Cadet Boys

Cadet Girls

The same scenario held true in the girls’ event as Denise Payet could have been beaten to the title had she lost to Charlotte Bardsley.

In the event, once she had taken the first game 14-12, she was able to pull ahead and take the next three 7, 5, and 6.

“I’m happy that it’s my last year at this level and I was able to win,” said Payet. “It’s a hard tournament – you have to really keep your concentration and focus, but it’s a really good tournament and helps to prepare for European competitions.”

Payet had begun her day by making short work of Mollie Patterson, the No 5 seed who had beaten the other top two seeds on Saturday. But she could not repeat the feat against Payet, who took it 4-0 (5, 4, 5, 11).

Bardsley got herself back on track with a 4-0 win of her own over No 4 Gauri Duhan (6, 0, 7, 7) as the top two begun to asset themselves.

And there was a win in a deciding game for No 6 Amelia Chan, who from 3-1 down finally overcame No 9 Katie Holt 4-3 (13-11, 9-11, 8-11, 6-11, 11-8, 11-8, 11-8).

Payet found Duhan a tough nut to crack in Round 7, eventually prevailing 4-2 (11-3, 5-11, 11-5, 10-12, 11-7, 11-9). Patterson had a more routine 4-0 scoreline against Holt, while Bardsley beat Wong 4-0 – though the scoreline of 12-10, 13-11, 11-8, 11-9 tells the story of a close match.

And Chan was taken to seven by Tiana Dennison, who saved match points in the sixth, before Chan clinched it 4-3 (11-7, 8-11, 5-11, 11-7, 11-9, 10-12, 11-2).

Holt picked up a good win over Duhan in Round 8, finishing it off 11-1 in the sixth, while Sophe Barlow saw off Chan, also in six, to set up a bronze medal match with Patterson. It was all routine for Payet and Bardsley against Wong and Walker respectively.

While Payet was rounding off with that 4-0 win over Bardsley, Patterson was defeating Barlow in four to secure second place by virtue of her 4-3 victory over Bardsley on Saturday.

The last match to finish saw Dennison claim the scalp of Duhan in six.

The final standings in the Cadet Girls

The final standings in the Cadet Girls

Under-12 Boys

A fascinating competition saw no one remain unbeaten, but it was Thomas Rayner who took the title, his victory over the previously unbeaten local player Louis Price proving the key to the competition.

Rayner said: “I felt ecstatic. I think knocking with Harry Dai and being coached by Denis Neale really helped. It was a really good tournament – I loved the way it was set up.”

The first round of matches on the day saw a pivotal win for Harry Boston, the No 4 seed breaking his duck by defeating second seed Rhys Davies in a tight match which could have gone either way before the Cambridgeshire player won it 3-2 (15-13, 8-11, 12-10, 7-11, 11-9).

Adam Szabo, ranked seventh, also picked up his first win by beating Bertie Kelly 3-1 (9-11, 11-8, 11-9, 11-9).

Rayner had to come from behind to see off a determined Felix Thomis 3-1 (11-13, 11-3, 14-12, 11-2).

Price had sat out the first round of the day in the seven-player competition, but he came back in with a 3-0 victory over Davies, maintaining his unblemished run of 3-0 victories. Rayner beat Boston by the same margin and there was a humdinger between Thomis and Szabo, the former winning it 16-14 in the deciding fifth having saved three match points at 7-10.

The penultimate round saw Rayner make his move, ending the unbeaten run of Price with a 3-1 (11-9, 4-11, 12-10, 11-7) victory.

That was enough even before the final round of matches, given the respective players’ head to heads – so Rayner losing to Davies in four did not affect the outcome.

The Under-12 Boys' league table

The Under-12 Boys’ league table

Under-12 Girls

Scarlett O’Neil beat Ruby Chan in the final match to dramatically take the title away from her previously undefeated opponent.

Having been beaten on day one by surprise medallist Jasmine Williams, O’Neil won all her matches, culminating in a 3-1 (11-5, 9-11, 11-7, 11-7) victory over Chan.

O’Neil said: “It feels good. I wasn’t expecting it but I thought if I believed in myself I could do it.”

The first round saw an important result as first-day hero Williams, seeded six, was defeated for the first time. It was fourth seed Amy Marriott who prevailed in a close match, taking it 3-2 (12-10, 10-12, 11-9, 9-11, 11-4).

And Chan then put one hand on the trophy when she defeated Williams in three straight in Round 5.

That was also when Alana Mansfield picked up her first victory, beating Holly Smithson 3-0 (12-10, 11-5, 17-15) to ensure all eight girls had at least one win. Marriott came from 2-1 down to defeat Helena Dicken in five, a feat matched by O’Neil against Anaya Patel.

Chan beat Mansfield in Round 6, while O’Neil beat Marriott to ensure there was still something riding on the last match between the top two seeds. Smithson picked up a useful four-set win over Williams.

How it finished in the Under-12 Girls

How it finished in the Under-12 Girls

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