Hayward completes fightback for Cheltenham Shield victory
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 Russell Hayward.
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Division Three Singles
Gloucester's Andy Howe gave the home team a good 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, but Howe recovered to win the second game.
With a 2-0 lead, Howe had all the momentum and he took the night's first point.
Two of the county's most promising youngsters were on display in this match.
Gloucester's Olly Tyndall showed his class in the first game as he pulled away from Jamie Theyer early on.
The second game was the highlight as it took an incredible forehand from Gloucester-based Tyndall around the net post to finally separate the two youngsters, who up to this point were neck and neck, and claim the game.
There was no stopping Tyndall as he raced away with the third game.
Ladies' Doubles (Not Division One)
There was a nervous edge to this match as the home side knew if they took it they would need only 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.
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 well and they registered the first point for their team.
Division Two Singles
There was a true powerhouse performance in this game by Cheltenham's Jamie Makepeace as his display of backhand control, serving know-how and forehand destruction eventually meant that Gloucester's Elliot King couldn't handle his opponent's game.
Makepeace ran home a 3-0 winner.
Junior and Over-70s Doubles
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 and it was this along with tactical play by Cullis that meant 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 would put her side within touching distance of victory, forcing Cheltenham's Choi Sze To make mistakes and it was because of this that the first game went to the home side.
The Cheltenham player did not hold back from her attacking mentality and with coaching from Dave Harvey, she was too much for Boulton and she levelled the scores.
Veterans Under-50s singles
Both Gloucester's Jason Million and Russell Hayward provided the match of the night.
Million's touch play and blocking got the better of Hayward and he took the first game.
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.
Nearly every point was a contest as neither player made mistakes but it was Russell who was to come out the winner.
It was with this last point that Cheltenham won the Shield.