Young Shae knocks out seeds to win cup
ELEVEN-year-old Shae Thakker, from Denham, became the youngest ever winner of the Open Singles title at the Cippenham Table Tennis Club Championships.
It was an incredible achievement for one so young and inexperienced against players from the club’s senior British League and Maidenhead League teams, and it was no fluke either as the unseeded youngster beat three of the four seeds en route to the title.
The first task awaiting Thakker was to win his first round group, where Andrew Sullivan and Saikat Ghosh were disposed of fairly easily, but then he came up against the more experienced top seed Steve Smith.
With only one player progressing into the semi-finals, it was a vitally important match, which Thakker won 3-1 after recovering from a first game loss.
The other three seeds – Simon Vine, Ricky Hardcastle and Graham Trimming – all came safely through their groups.
The semi-final pitted Thakker against defending champion Hardcastle, where he showed his immense promise with a clear 3-0 win which set him up for a final against Vine, who had defeated Trimming by the same score in the other semi.
The final itself was a gruelling five-game epic which moved one way then the other, with Thakker taking the first game 11-9, only for Vine, who has made a very successful return to competitive table tennis this season after more than two decades out, to hit back 11-7, 11-7.
The youngster was not finished, however, and won the fourth in a canter 11-3, and in the fifth game he was always slightly ahead and eventually won 11-7.
This follows the Junior Singles title Thakker won two weeks ago, making him only the second player ever to win the main and junior titles in the same season.
The other, Gareth Herbert, in both 1995 and 1996, went on to have an illustrious career playing for England, which culminated in two gold medal at the 2002 Commonwealth Games.
BIG TALENT: Shae Thakker, winner of both the junior and senior singles titles at the Cippenham Table Tennis Club Championships, with Simon Vine, who he beat in the senior final