Young Shae knocks out seeds to win cup

TA­BLE TEN­NIS

Buckinghamshire Advertiser - - SPORT -

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

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