A star showing from Rafi Marom was the outstanding highlight of last weekend’s Maccabi GB national table tennis championships.
The event, which was sponsored by Teacher Stern Solicitors, took place at Edgware’s London Academy, and saw 65 competitors take part in what was the largest Jewish table tennis tournament of the year. The day saw male and female athletes of all ability levels in attendance, with the singles and doubles events attracting people from U12 to Over 60.
In the junior boys singles, highly-rated and red-hot favourite Jack Josephs progressed to the final without dropping a game. Meanwhile, in the bottom half of the draw Matthew Gold was also staking a claim where he saw off a spirited performance by Joe Kaye in the Semi-Final. The Final did not disappoint with one of the closest fought matches in the entire day. It was Jack Josephs who showed his class with an 11-9 win the fifth game. What a start it was to the day, with plenty more to follow.
In the U12’s singles, Benjamin Mencer was the organiser’s predicted winner and he too saw his way to the final, joined by Jacob Sobel who came through a scary semi-final encounter with Jake Grayson with an 11-7 win in the fifth set. The final, however, went to Benjamin who dominated the whole competition without dropping a game.
The Over 50’s was a highly competitive event with the two top seeded players – Jeremy Banks and Ivan Lewis – both making it to the final. The showpiece match did not disappoint with some truly excellent rallies and top table tennis. It was ultimately won 11-8 in the fifth game by Jeremy Banks over his good friend.
The junior girls final was won by Jessica Abrahams against Alicia Shiner in three straight games.
The veterans (Over 40’s) produced some more top class displays with the organisers once again correctly predicting the top seeds in Ivan Lewis and Dov Katz. Both had seen-off quality opposition in the semi-finals with wins against Jason Tendler and Jeremy Banks respectively. Ivan Lewis, who was the No.1 seed, secured the title with an emphatic 3-0 victory.
In the Cadets there was a surprise package in the very young Benjamin Mencer who had already secured victory earlier in the U12’s. Benjamin displaced No.1 seed Judah Jackson in a closely fought semi-final to meet the No.2 seed Jamie Rosen. Benjamin proved what an excellent prospect he is with a 3-0 triumph.
The men’s doubles also went to the number one seeded athletes with Rafi Marom and Jeremy Banks beating the second seeds Dov Katz and Ivan Lewis in the final with four games of excellent table tennis.
The novice singles – an event which encourages competitors to enter who do not regularly compete in the sport – was an entertaining affair, fought by Andrew Gold and Wayne Levy. The latter finished on top winning three games to one.
The ladies singles competition was played as a round robin. Sandy Nash was the clear winner with Jessica Abrahams coming through in second place in what was an incredibly close competition.
The final session of events were the banded, mixed doubles, junior boys doubles, the Over 60’s and the men’s singles.
The banded event was won with some outstanding performances by young Joe Kaye who defeated earlier Novice Champion Wayne Levy in straight sets. The Over 60’s was a round-robin which was won by Ian Mablin. Graham Davies finished in second place.
The junior boys doubles f inal was a very close match won 11-6 in the fifth game by Judah Jackson and Joe Kaye against Freddie Coverman and Sammy Kaye. This match saw four rising stars in Jewish table tennis and the spectators knew they were seeing something special as all four boys put on a real show. These are athletes to look out for in years to come.
The mixed doubles final saw the now weary Jeremy Banks partnered with Sandy Nash against the equally tired pairing of Dov Katz and Sally Proven. All four players produced some very exciting rallies with Jeremy and Sandy prevailing 11-7 in the fourth game.
The largest event of the day – with 32 competitors – was the men’s singles. The outstanding performer was undoubtedly Rafi Marom, rated by many in the top 50 in England, who made his way to the final. He did not have it his all way, though, with Dov Katz – who was showing signs of fatigue – taking Rafi very close in the semi-final. Michael Gerrard had some excellent performances with a great win over Jack Josephs and he also pushed Jeremy Banks to the wire in a very tense Semi-Final match. Ultimately, it was Rafi against Jeremy in the final which produced some very high calibre rallies and Marom claiming the title 3-0.
Speaking about the Maccabi GB Table Tennis Championships, event organiser and Maccabi GB Table Tennis Chair, Jeremy Banks said: “The most eagerly anticipated event of MGB’s Table Tennis calendar did not disappoint. Fourteen competitions including singles and doubles, from novice level to top-ranked England players – it was a highly charged, yet family friendly atmosphere which enthralled players and spectators alike.
“Most notable was the strength and depth of our Junior players [10-15 years old], suggesting a very bright future for Jewish table tennis. In particular, young kids new to the game develop into decent standard players within a year of hard training, commitment and support from their parents. At the other end of the age spectrum, there was a significant group of very experienced players still at the top of their game. Overall this event provided a magnificent boost to our preparations for the European Maccabi Games 2015 in Berlin.
“I would just like to thank Dov Katz and Teacher Stern Solicitors for helping us host this event and Steve Pound for ensuring the day ran smoothly.”