Zak claims Ballymoney Table Tennis Open

ZAK Wilson was the star of the show at the Lodge Hotel-sponsored Ballymoney Open held last Saturday.

The talented 14-year-old powered his way through the field defeating Pawel Sulkowski 3-1 in the final.

36 players from all over Northern Ireland took part and played in the group stages throughout the morning session. The top 16 qualified for the Open event and were split into a further four groups with the top two qualifying for the quarter finals.

Group A saw the brothers Knox - Gervis and Trevor - qualify but not before a close count back. Ballymoney’s James Steele had beaten Trevor Knox 3-0 but had slipped up against Ricky Davies by the same score line. Ricky then lost out to Trevor who had taken two sets off big brother to seal his second place spot.

Group B was an opportunity for Rasharkin’s Mark McGuigan to shine and he did not disappoint. Following brilliant wins against Peter Clarke and Phil Jamison he eventually lost out to Mark McAllister. Mark had already lost out to Peter and Phil so it ended up a straight shoot out between them for runner up spot. Peter came out the winner by 3-1 to join McGuigan in the quarters.

Zak Wilson dominated Group C winning all three matches against his much more experienced opponents, Gary Crawford, Roy Coard and Mark Gordon. Gary Crawford came through in second place with a 3-1 win over Roy Coard.

Group D went to Pawel Sulkowski who out-gunned young Jonny Porter by 3 - 1 to grab first place. Jonny came second having earlier defeated Richard Black and the evergreen Barry Dickson.

Gervis proved too strong for Jonny Porter in the first quarter-final winning 3-1 although the match was poised at one each and the third set went to Gervis 17-15. This was vital to the win as Gervis eased through in set 4.

Zak Wilson survived against Peter Clarke winning 3-0. All the sets had only a two point margin and Peter can count himself unlucky not to have taken the match further. In the bottom half Pawel Sulkowski was too strong for Trevor Knox and Mark McGuigan defeated Gary Crawford both winning 3-1.

Down to one table and the first semi final was probably the match of the tournament.

Zak winning the fifth set decider 15-13 against Gervis in a tense encounter. The match seemed to be going the way of Gervis when he claimed the first two sets but Zak kept his cool when everyone around him was losing theirs to win the last 3 sets 11-5 11-5 15-13.

In the second semi final Mark McGuiggan could not uphold his form going down 3-1 to Pawel Sulkowski but can be very pleased with his days work finishing in 3rd spot.

The final was controlled by the young Zak who beat veteran Pawel by 11-4 11-6 9-11 11-8. This win for Zak will surely be the first of many who is in his final year as a Cadet (U14).

The Grade 1 event for players finishing the initial groups outside the Top 16 saw a well deserved victory for Letterkenny’s Paul Gallagher.

Paul overcame sisters Laura and Rebecca Finn in the quarter final and semi final before ousting Brian Martin from Civil Service 11-8 in the 5th set in an excellent final. Brian had earlier just pipped the much improved Emma Ludlow 11-9 in the fifth set semi final decider.

Grade 2 gave local success to Ballymoney club stalwart, Paul McGuigan.

Paul saved five match points in the final against Peter Neeson from Ballymena to collapse over the line by 12-10 in the final set. This was much deserved success for Paul following wins over Ben McCartney and “young” Jimmy O’Hara.

The Ballymoney club would like to thank the sponsors for the event – The Lodge Hotel. Also thanks to Ballymena Academy club for the use of facilities and all who assisted in the smooth running of the event.

1.Zak Wilson; 2.Pawet Sulkowski; 3 (tie) Gervis Know, Mark McGuiggan; 5, (tie) Jonny Porter, Peter Clarke, Trevor Knox, Gary Crawford; 9, Phil Jamison; 10, Roy Coard; 11, Richard Davis; 12, Richard Black; 13, Barry Dickson; 14, Mark McAllister; 15, Mark Gordon; 16, James Steele; 17, Paul Gallagher; 18, Brian Martin; 19 (tie) Emma Ludlow, Rebecca Finn; 21 (tie)Ian Davies, Chris Whitemen, Laura Finn, Mike Connolly; 25, Paul McGuiggan; 26, Peter Neeson; 27 (tie) Ben McCartney, Alan Jamison; 29 (tie) Jimmy O’Hara, Adrian Pietus, Ingus Feldmanus, Mark McCaigue; 33 (tie)Phillip Montgomery, Adam Wallace, Thomas Davies, Windsor Clarke.