The University of Leeds won the mixed table tennis event in dramatic fashion on a doubles match tie-breaker after the initial set of contests had ended all square at 8 games each at Cromer Terrace. This was one of the sports that Uni had earmarked to win and they certainly got off to a fast start.
Star man Kim Daybell, who competed for Great Britain’s para table tennis team at London 2012, illustrated why he is one of the world’s top international players, making Charlotte Spencer do all the running as he secured a comfortable 3-0 triumph. Our second player Steve McLoughlin then participated in arguably one of the most exciting matches of the contest as he beat his Beckett counterpart Ryan McLoughlin 3-2 in a seesaw encounter.
The winning run continued as Bobby Crossley had too much for Jamie Walters. However, Beckett gained a foothold in the contest when Ash Palmer overcame Harry Morris 3-0. Despite this defeat, Uni had their noses in front and were looking likely victors. Daybell was similarly imperious in his second match and was seemingly untroubled by anything that his opponents tried to throw at him, preserving his 100% record.
Beckett refused to lie down however and came roaring back, with victories for Spencer, Walters and Palmer levelling the tie at 4-4. It was clear at this point that Daybell and Spencer were the leading lights for their respective teams, and it was difficult to see either of them losing their remaining clashes. Sure enough, that proved to be the case, although Crossley did manage to take a game off Spencer. Once again McLoughlin’s match went down to the wire, before pipping Palmer to the post in the fifth and decisive game.
After McLoughlin had eased past Morris, the scores were still level-pegging, and a deciding doubles rubber seemed likely. Daybell and Spencer were a class apart and rounded off the competition with quality straight-sets victories.
With Uni and Beckett claiming one win apiece from the remaining two matches, the contest went the distance. Daybell and McLoughlin stepped up to the plate in a doubles match to decide the contest, and faced off against Walters and Palmer. The Uni pair’s superior understanding and Daybell’s big-game experience paid dividends as they raced into the lead, keeping their unforced error count low and putting their opponents under relentless pressure. They wrapped up the match in double-quick time and therefore claimed overall victory.
Speaking after the match, McLoughlin stressed that although the match was expected to be close, with their full-strength team Uni would have won more comfortably. With this in mind, it promises to be an exciting season for the team when all their mainstays return.