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VETTS National Champions are Crowned
By Susie Venner
The culmination of the veterans season took place recently at National Championships of the Veterans English Table Tennis Society (VETTS) with 300 competitors aged from 40 to over 90, playing over two days on 37 tables, with 21 different National Championship title being contested in six different age groups.
The two blue riband events, the O/40s men's and women's singles, were keenly contested at a standard which increases and improves year on year.
At the other end of the age range but with no less commitment, fight and passion, was the O/90 VETTS Nationals Championships.
O/40s Mens - Kevin Dolder
Kevin Dolder from Cheshire took his first title in a VETTS event as he overcame top seed, pre-tournament favourite and previous multiple VETTS National and Masters Champion, Lorestas Trumpauskas, in a superb final to take the National Championship. Kevin's road to the final had not been as easy one and several times he had to dig deep to come back from behind.
Both his quarters and semis were close five-setters where he had to fight back to take the victory. In the quarter finals against Tommy Cutler, Kevin took the first two sets 11/7, 12/10 and then faced a revival from Tommy who took the next two sets 11/9, 11/9 - before Kevin edged over the line 11/9 in the decider.
The semi-final against Zoltan Hosszu was equally tense, as Kevin lost the first two sets before turning it around to win in five.
In the final, Kevin lost the first set 6-11 and then had to save five set points against Lorestas in the second set to win that 15-13 before taking the next two sets to be crowned VETTS O/40 National Champion for the first time.
Over 90s Champions
At the other end of the age scale but with no less enthusiasm or commitment, Liverpool League player, Allan Biggs, won the O/90s National Championship.
Allan, now aged 93 has been playing table tennis in the Liverpool League since 1948, playing in all the divisions and he has also competed in the Liverpool Business Houses League, the Warrington League and the Wirral League.
Allan still turns out for his local club, Wavertree Labour in local league and says he sees table tennis as a great way to keep fit. It also keeps him mentally active and ensures that he is socialising with other league members and friends. Allan beat fellow nonagenarians, Eric Renshaw and Charles Usher to take the title.
Women's Over 40s
The women's O/40s went to number one seed, Sara Williams, with an 11-4, 11-9, 9-11, 11-9, final win over Welsh veteran Catherine Jones. Catherine had earlier been involved in one of the most closely contested events in the quarter finals when she came out the victor 19-17 in the fifth against previous National Champion Miche Reeves.
Top seed, Lorestas Trumpauskas added to his collection of a considerable number of VETTS National and Masters Championships acquired over the past decade with a victory over number two seed, Neil Charles in the final of the O/50s, 11-9, 11-7, 9,11, 11-5.
The women's O/50s saw Emma Harradine return from a series of injuries and operations to add another title to her collection. Despite losing the first set, 7-11, Emma reversed the run of play to take the next three sets, 5,2, and 6, against Miche Reeves.
Kent's Diccon Grey took the O/60s title in a final against top seed Liverpool's Keith Williams, 11-7, 11-6, 11-8. To reach the final, number six seed Diccon had close games against Trevor Kerry (6-11, 11-9, 11-9, 11-7); Phil Bowen (12-14, 12-10, 11-8, 11-3), and Ray Hurst (12-14, 12-10, 11-8, 11-3). Keith had a more comfortable run to the final until a close encounter with Ivan Lewis, where he emerged to go through to the final after a tough, 8-11, 6-11, 11-3, 11-9, 11-8, victory.
Jane Vickers had a comfortable 11-8, 11-7, 11-3 win in the final over Linda Simpson but not before both competitors had been challenged in close matches en route. Jane was two sets down to top Irish veteran Teresa Devaney, before edging it in five sets, and Linda had a hard-fought battle against top seed Jan Johns in the semi-finals.
One of the surprise winners of the titles was the men's O/70's champion, Barry Hill who came from his position of eight seed to claim victory. in his journey to the final, he beat Roy Norton, Maurice Newman and Brian Reeves, before dispatching top seed and multiple National Champion, Dave Harvey 11-7, 11-4, 11-5.
In the women's, Sandra Rider took her first National singles title against fellow Yorkshire county player, Linda Simpson, 8-11, 11-8, 11-4, 5-11, 14-12. Linda repeated her habit from the O/60s in putting out the top seed in the semis but falling at the final hurdle, having beaten number one seed, Teresa Devaney, 9-11, 6-11, 12-10, 11-4, 11-9, before meeting Sandra in the final.
The Open O/80s singles was taken by John Holland after a closely contested final against Ray Dixon (11-7, 10-12, 11-5, 9-11, 13-11). Running separately was also an O/80s women's event which was won by multiple VETTS title holder, the ever-green, Margaret Dignum against her long-time opponent and friend, Sally Bax (11-9, 11-8, 7-11, 14-12).
The trophies and perpetual Cups were presented by VETTS President and former European Champion, John Hilton.
VETTS National Champions Double's Roll of Honour
O/40 MD Kevin Dolder/Lorestas Trumpauskas
O/40 WD Sanja Clements/Sue Collier
O/50 MD Philip Cox/Diccon Gray
O/50 WD Lorraine Perryman/Linda Sanderson
O/60 MD Phil Bowen/Trevor Kerry
O/60 WD Diane St Ledger/Jane Vickers
O/70 MD Nigel Eckersley/Geoff Salter
O/70 WD Jacky Channell/Sandra Rider
O/80 Open D: Dennis Bromage/Ray Dixon
O/40 XD Jason Ramage/Sara Williams