Cippenham Women & Girls' 1-Star Open - 26 February 2023
Following an initiative by the national governing body, Table Tennis England, and Sport England to encourage greater female participation in sport, Cippenham Table Tennis Club organised its first Women & Girls’ 1-Star Open on Sunday. While there were fewer contestants than the organisers would have liked, there was much good table tennis, played in a competitive yet friendly atmosphere, and those that came along enjoyed the experience. Another similar event is planned for next season as Cippenham joins with Table Tennis England to promote table tennis for women and girls.
The total entry was twenty players and that gave enough time for all of them to have two events each. The morning session included age-group events, one for under-21s and the other for over-21s. The afternoon brought all the players together in a completely open draw. All events featured a preliminary stage group followed by championship and consolation knock-out rounds.
The final of the over-21 event was played out by the top two seeds and the match was very evenly contested. Three deuce games came and went before Ewelina Sychta just about managed to fight off the challenge of national women and girls’ ambassador Sally Hughes by the narrow margin of two points in the fifth and deciding game. The semi-finalists were Clare Styles and Holly Holder.
The under-21 event went to Lowri Hurd who overcame the much higher-ranked Rachael Iles 3-1. Rachael had earlier defeated her Cippenham team-mate Anna Piercey 3-1 in the semi-final while Hurd’s victory over Man Nga Chan proved a little more straight-forward.
The afternoon session proved to be a contest between the over-21s and the under-21s with the younger age group prevailing. The four finalists from the morning’s events were the top four seeds for the open event after lunch. All four made it to their appointed places in the semi-final draw but it was the youngsters that won through to the final. At the top half of the draw Lowri Hurd continued her great form beating top seed Ewelina Sychta 3-2 while second seed Rachael Iles came from behind to eliminate Sally Hughes 3-1. That set up a repeat of the under-21 final played four hours earlier and a repeat it was, Hurd again getting the better of Rachael 3-1.
That was not the only final to have repeated. Sarah Hudson and Sylwia Pajak, having already met in the over-21 consolation final in the morning, met again in the afternoon consolation final. The result was the same, Hudson coming back from 2-1 down to defeat Pajak over five games. Even the actual scores in the first two games were the same! The under-21 consolation was won by the diminutive Grace Liu over Zoe Gonpot 11-9 in the fifth after she had scored an even narrower victory over Cippenham’s Aairah Hussain in the semi-final.
The tournament was organised by Elena Tant and refereed by Sue Hayes.