Cheltenham table tennis team beat Gloucester to win the Warner Shield
Cheltenham have lifted the table tennis Warner Shield with a narrow victory over Gloucester.
The annually-contested tournament is played across seven rounds, with Cheltenham winning 4-3 at the Waterwells Sports Centre in Quedgeley.
It all went down to the final game in the Veterans Under-50s, with Gloucester's Jason Million losing to Cheltenham's Russell Hayward.
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Division Three Singles
Andy Howe gave the home team a great start by winning the first event of the evening.
After losing the first game, Cheltenham's Paul Burd's serving game improved and he raced away to a 7-3 lead. Howe recovered however and managed to scrape the second game. With a 2-0 lead the Gloucester player had all the momentum and it showed as he romped home to take the first point of the night.
Under 15 Singles
Two of the county's most promising youngsters were on display and both showed why they were chosen for their respective sides with good quality points throughout the match.
Gloucester's Olly Tyndall was showing his class in the first game as he pulled away from Jamie Theyer early.
The second game was the highlight though as it took an incredible forehand from the Gloucester lad around the net post to finally separate the two youngsters, who up to this point were neck and neck, and claim the game.
With wind in his sail there was no stopping Tyndall as he raced away with the third game and Gloucester's second point.
Ladies Doubles (Not Division 1)
A nervous edge to this match as the home side knew if they took it then they'd only need one more point to win the shield.
These nerves seemed to be too much for Gloucester's Jo Duncan and Beth Priest who made more mistakes than the away team and gave the first game without asking too many questions. The second game was much the same. The consistent play by Cheltenham's Julie Taylor and Kristina Rubaka was getting the better of the home side and, like the first, another game slipped past for Gloucester.
The Cheltenham duo's pushing game was working very well, moving both Gloucester women all around the table and with these tactics it was a formality for Cheltenham to register their first point of the evening.
Division 2 Singles
A true power house performance in this game by Cheltenham's Jamie Makepeace as his display of backhand control, serving knowhow and forehand destruction eventually meant that Gloucester's Elliot Kingcouldn't handle his opponent's game.
Not to say the home player didn't give a good account of himself, using good angles to try to make life difficult for the Cheltenham player but in the end it was all in vain as Makepeace ran home a 3-0 winner.
Junior and Over-70 Doubles
A very interesting game was in store here as both teams had attacking young guns playing alongside chopping seniors.
Gloucester had experienced Brian Cullis and Hamza Bham against Cheltenham's Keith Furguson and Tom Warner
Bham's attacking threat was on show from the start of the match and it was this along with tactical play by Cullis that the Gloucester team were able to claim the first game.
It seemed this match was destined for Gloucester as the second game was decided by a couple of fortunate edges and nets.
Cheltenham were not down and out though as they came running out the blocks with a strong attacking game which Gloucester were not ready for and went on to win the third game.
After this mini wake-up call the home side stepped up a gear and made no mistakes in taking the fourth game to put Gloucester within one game of title victory.
Gloucester's Mel Boulton looked as though she put Gloucester within touching distance of victory, making Cheltenham's Choi Sze To make mistakes and it was with this that the 1st game went to the home side. The Cheltenham lady did not hold back from her attacking mentality though and with coaching from Dave Harvey in her corner she was too much for Mel and put the scores level with only one more event left.
Veterans under 50s Singles
Both Gloucester's Jason Million and Russell Hayward performed outstandingly and provided the match of the night with a range of amazing shots. Million's touch play and blocking got the better of Hayward and he took the first game.
During the break though Dave Harvey stepped in to give some words of advice to the Cheltenham man and that seemed to sway things to his advantage.
Hayward came out with all guns blazing and his forehand was near faultless as he put power with spin to prove too much for Million.
Near every point was a contest as neither player made mistakes but it was Russell who was to come out the eventual winner.
It was with this last point that Cheltenham were named this year's winners.
All players gave great accounts of their respective leagues and it was literally down to the wire as either side could have won.