FIRST SUNDAY SUPER LEAGUE SEASON REACHES FINALE

Last weekend marked the conclusion of the club’s first ever Sunday Super League season. The weekly competition, which runs in season cycles of six match days, offers entrants four matches each week to determine their place in a completed table at the end of every match day. Points are then awarded based on a player’s weekly placing to determine their position on the overall league table, with cash prizes awarded to the top three players at the end of every six week season.

Sunday League final games
Karol Krancjir (left) and Guillaume Mathias (right) clash in one of the final games of the season.

 

Sunday’s edition of the league saw ten players from the top half of the table arrive at the club keen to consolidate and improve on their positions in the season’s final round of matches. As the action unfolded keeping up with all the various league scenarios proved to involve almost as much frantic maths as the previous day’s Six Nations rugby; but we’ve done our best to sum up the final day of play and how the league’s first completed table came to be.

At the start of play on Sunday Louise Islip, who ranks among the top 10 women in Wales, lead the main table by thirteen points. Particularly strong performances in weeks two, three and four of the season had seen Louise denied a weekly victory only by club coaches Patrick Thomas and Lloyd Gregory; players who would not compete on the final Sunday and were not eligible for the cash prizes.

Louise’s closest rival in the overall table was Dean Richards. Dean had been a constant feature of the top six of each weekly table since his league debut in week two. Dean, who plays alongside Louise for Bridgend in the Team Championships of Wales, was the only player with a chance of catching the league’s leader as the final match day began. Even if Dean were to win all his matches on Sunday, however, an 8th place finish for Louise would still be good enough to secure her the championship.

Closing on the top two was fourteen year old Benedict Watson. Benedict was a key part of the Cardiff’s victory in the Junior British League last month and has since continued to develop his game in the club’s Sunday competition, finishing in the top four in every week he’s competed. Ahead of the final round of matches Benedict was mathematically ruled out of the title race only on the day; the number of competitors involved on that match day meant that Louise was already guaranteed enough of a share of the points on offer to make the gap between her and the young Cardiff City player insurmountable.

Elsewhere in the league Omer Minhas might have had his sights set on overtaking Ryan Crowley, who had picked up an impressive tally of points early in the season but was not in attendance on the final day. Omer needed fourteen points to close the gap but he was also facing stiff competition from other players lingering around the top six.

Guillaume Mathias began Sunday just behind Omer in seventh place. The gap below Guillaume was even tighter though as he lead Karol Krancjir by only two points. Finishing ahead of Karol on Sunday would have been good enough to secure Guillaume at least seventh, but Karol had been in impressive form of late, having achieved his best result of the season by finishing fifth the previous week. Pik Wong was another player who had achieved her highest ever finish only the week before, and Pik was now trailing Karol and Guillaume by only three and five points respectively.

Joint tenth and equal on points with Pik was Roger Grech who had quickly amassed major point hauls from the only two match days that he competed in. Roger, who plays for Barry Athletic in the Cardiff league, had topped the weekly league in the previous round of matches and could climb as high as sixth in the overall table by the end of the weekend.

Paul Sweetland joined the competition for the third match day and has since been improving his weekly finish on each outing. Paul’s target ahead of the final day may have been the Cardiff coach Lloyd Gregory, who was stuck on the fifty point mark and unable to improve his tally by competing on the final day. Two points behind Paul, fourteen year old Joe Williams may have also been setting his sights on the fifty point milestone, perhaps hoping to overtake Paul on his way.

There was still plenty to play for then as the league drew towards its final movements.

The smaller number of competitors at this advanced stage of the season called for a change of format from the organisers. This week’s event would be about two round robin group stages, with players being ceded according to their current league position and then divided across three groups to ensure that the top players were not all bunched into one group in the opening round. The second group stage would be determined by the results of the first stage; the group winners would move into one group, the runners-up into another and the remaining players into a final group.

During the first stage Louise Islip dominated her group as Pik Wong and Karol Krancjir both failed to take a set from the league leader. Karol then took second place in the group after coming through a crucial clash with Pik as the 3-0 winner.

Meanwhile Roger Grech took another strong group by storm. Roger emerged the victor from two tough ties against Dean Richards and Guillame Mathias; winning his final set against Guillame without dropping a single point. Dean Richards was suffering throughout the group stage with a recurring ankle problem and the Bridgend player eventually withdrew from the day’s play after the group stage was completed. Dean’s two defeats before his injury forced him to withdraw meant that Louise Islip was now mathematically guaranteed the league’s top spot overall.

Over in a tight four-person group Paul Sweetland boosted his chances of moving up the table by beating Omer Minhas 3-0 at the start of play. Paul’s close rival in the league, Joe Williams, then matched Paul’s achievement by also beating Omer, setting up an interesting clash between Joe and Paul which ended in a 3-1 victory for Paul. The best game in the group was a real nail-biter between Benedict Watson and Omer Minhas. Omer looked ready to cause an upset after he recovered a two set deficit to draw the tie 2-2, but Benedict bounced back and took the decisive set 11-2.

The results of the first round of matches meant that Louise, Roger and Benedict moved into Group A for the second round as winners of their respective groups. The first round’s runners-up, Karol and Paul, were joined by Guillaume Mathias replacing Dean Richards to make up Group B. Meanwhile Pik Wong, Joe Williams and Omer Minhas formed Group C. In terms of the weekly placing, players in Group A would now contest 1st, 2nd and 3rd, Group B would decide 4th, 5th and 6th, while Group C determined 7th, 8th and 9th. Dean Richards’ injury would limit him to 10th place for the week.

In their second clash that evening the result between Joe Williams and Omer Minhas was repeated as Joe again emerged 3-0 winner.  Joe next beat Pik by the same score line to ensure him a 7th place finish on the day and sixteen additional points towards his tally for the season. In Group C’s final game Omer beat Pik to claim an 8th place finish on the day.

Paul carried his strong form from the first round with him into Group B as he won his both of his final matches, lifting Paul above the fifty point mark for the season. Karol Krancjir was once again group runner-up as he bounced back from his defeat by Paul to beat Guillaume Mathias 3-1.

A fascinating mix-up was set in Group A as play opened with Roger Grech overcoming Benedict Watson 3-0. The young player responded well to the defeat though and Benedict soon highlighted his credentials as one of the league front runner’s by beating Louise Islip 3-1. Louise then beat Roger 3-0 to mark the first time she’s won the weekly competition, and to cement her triumph in the league overall.

Louise Islip then carries off the league’s top prize of £50. Dean’s injury afforded Benedict the chance to go second, and Benedict eagerly took his chance to earn himself the second prize of £25. Dean’s strong form throughout the season earns him 3rd place and a prize fund of £10.

With Coach Patrick Thomas still occupying 4th in the table, 5th place was left to Omer who squeezed in to beat Ryan Crowley’s tally by only one point.

The biggest jump in the league was for Roger Grech. His 3rd place finish on Sunday means that Roger jumps from 11th to 7th overall; a remarkable tally considering Roger has now only competed in three of the six Sundays.

Karol Krancjir’s closed the slim gap between him and Guillaume Mathias as both players finish the season tied in 8th on 72 points. Paul Sweetland’s strong showing saw him gaining ground on PIk Wong, but in the end Pik’s prior form proved too strong and a two point divide remains. Both Pik and Paul did break the fifty point mark though, seeing them move above Lloyd Gregory in the league.  Below them Joe Williams stays 13th; despite winning three games on Sunday Joe finishes just two points shy of the place above.

The Sunday Super League returns on April 12th with all players’ points being reset ahead of the new season. By popular demand the new league season will see the addition of a second division, offering even more chances for Cardiff’s table tennis enthusiasts to play competitively. With the introduction of a second division the club are now opening the Sunday league up to players of any ability; so regardless of how long you’ve been playing, if you’d like to get some competitive experience under your belt then Cardiff City will have a division for you.

The plan for the new season is for Division 2 to play their matches from 4-6 every Sunday before Division 1 take over the club from 6-8. You can attend as many or as few of the match days as you would like. If you’d like to be involved with either division then please send an email to cardiffcityttc@gmail.com.

The final completed Sunday Super League table can be seen in full below.

Sunday Super League- 22nd March

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