Baraty steals the show at Maccabi GB Table Tennis championships

Eli Baraty won the prestigious Men's event at the 2012 Maccabi GB Table Tennis Open Championships at the Harefield Academy on Sunday.

The 29-year-old, who is currently ranked 35 in the country, won the MGB junior title twice in his youth has been trying for over a decade to prove his prowess in the Men’s open category but has been thwarted each time.

However, he continued his excellent run of form by defeating Keith Lesser in straight sets in the final.

Baraty has been in excellent form this season. He recently beat beat the no. 9 ranked player in the country and former England no. 1.

In a hall filled to capacity, with almost 100 players competing throughout the day, Baraty started the event in less than impressive form dropping a number of sets to lower ranked players. However, it is often difficult for a player of his standing to motivate themselves at the group stages, but the top seed showed his true colours by qualifying from the group stage.

The first seed to fall was no. 4 Ivan Lewis, ranked 35 on the English Veterans list. He went out to the no. 6 seed and Maccabiah doyen Dov Katz in the quarter-final stages.

Then fifth seed Rafi Marom saw his quarter-final jinx strike against as he bowed out in straight sets to no. 3 seed Matt Spero.

A further last eight match saw Jeremy Banks (2012 winner of the Milly Superstein Cup for outstanding Achievement in Jewish Table Tennis) lose to Baraty, but not before taking a set off the left handed magician.

And in the last quarter-final, second seed Lesser overcame 19-year-old powerhouse Guy Ben-Aroya - a former top 10 England Junior who is just coming back to the game after a break of over a year.

This set up a semi-final clash between Lesser and Spero. In a match full of long and exciting rallies and a score which constantly changed favour, Lesser eventually beat Spero 11-9 in the fifth and final game where Lesser came back from a 4-0 deficit, thus securing Lesser a place in the final.

In the other semi saw Baraty take on Katz. The last time these two met at this event it was Katz who ran out the victor. But Baraty was determined to make sure that history was not going to repeat itself by beating Katz straight sets. He went on to claim the title with an 11-7, 11-8, 11-6 victory over Lesser.

Jack Josephs won the Junior Boys' Singles crown. The number one seed for this event was Zach Mandel (2012 Winner of the Sylvia and Yoram Katz, Most Promising Junior of the Year). Zach was seeded to meet Josephs in the final.

Josephs beat the much-improved Daniel Reece at the last four stage but there was a shock in the other semi-final where Mandel was defeated by competition newcomer Sasha Somers.

Somers, the son of multiple men’s winner of the past, Perry Somers, showed some considerable talent by beating Mandel in an exciting five-setter, but he could not repeat his performance in the final where he lost to the much improved Josephs, aged 14.

Mandel exacted revenge in the cadet semi-finals where he beat Somers to set-up a final against Josephs who had seen off Daniel Gaunt in his semi-final. Gaunt had an impressive competition and did well to take a set off the talented Josephs

Josephs secured a second title by defeating top seed Mandel.

Mandel showed grit and determination to walk away with one title after partnering Josephs to win the Junior Doubles title. They beat upcoming talents Sammy Kaye and Jamie Rosen in the final.

Results went the way of the formbook in the Veterans event, with top seed Ivan Lewis beating second seed and former winner Jeremy Banks in the final.

Micky Lang beat Ian Mablin to take the over-55’s category title, with Lang being the first name on the cup in this new event category.

The Men’s Doubles Final was contested by the top two seeded pairings of Baraty/Lewis and Lesser/Marom. There were some close games in this match in which the rallies kept the crowd on the edge of their seat, but eventually the winners were Baraty and Lewis. This giving both players two titles apiece so far.

Baraty then made it a triple in the mixed doubles event by partnering Sally Prowen to a victory over the pairing of Dov Katz and Samantha Cohen. This was not however Prowen’s only title as she beat Jo Radivan in a repeat of the last championships Women’s event final and in doing so she notched up her 91st Maccabi title going back to the 1960’s.

The well subscribed and always hotly contested Banded event was won for the fourth consecutive year by Darren Reece over Richard Abrahams from Leeds.

Other final’s results on the day were the Junior Girls event which saw Zoe Waxkirsh beat Natasha Garbarz in a round robin event, and in another well subscribed event, the newly created novices category, Wayne Levy beat Alex Zuckerman.

Mel Davidson, the National Chair of Maccabi GB Table Tennis said: "This event at the fantastic Harefield Academy is run in the most professional way possible, but we do not lose sight of the fact that it must also be an enjoyable day out for everyone - both for the top players and more novice players and in this we succeed.

"It does have it's serious side with some coveted titles to be won although all attending should also see it as a good day out.

"There were many more cadet and junior players this time which is a feat in itself but even more encouraging is their overall strength in depth with even greater numbers of them already getting some serious table tennis exposure on a regular basis.

"We clearly could not make an event like this successful without the players and their families attending. However, we also must not forget those who help to get it set-up in the first place and to this end I would like to thank Keith Lesser for his outstanding commitment both before and on the day, particularly in respect of his scheduling and organisational talents.

"Also my thanks go out to Tony Jacks, Jackie Jacks and Christine Davidson for their tireless assistance in the lead up to the event and also on the day and finally to the National Tournament Referees, Alan Shepherd, Margot Fraser and Arthur Clark whose skills helped keep the event on track.

"Some of the performances here will help us decide which players will represent the Team GB table tennis teams at next year's Maccabiah Games in Israel."

2012 Maccabi GB Table Tennis Championship Results:

Men's Singles: Eli Baraty bt Keith Lesser

Women's Singles: Sally Prowen bt Jo Radivan

Veteran's Singles: Ivan Lewis bt Jeremy Banks

Junior Boys' Singles: Jack Josephs bt Sasha Somers

Junior Girls Singles: Decided by Round Robin – Winner: Zoe Waxkirsh / Runner up: Natasha Garbarz

Cadet Mixed Singles: Joseph bt Zach Mandel

Banded Mixed Singles: Darren Reece bt Richard Abrahams

Over-55’s Mixed Singles: Mickey Lang bt Ian Mablin

Novices’ Mixed Singles: Wayne Levy bt Alex Zuckerman

Men's Doubles: Baraty/Lewis bt Lesser/Rafi Marom

Mixed Doubles: Baraty/Prowen bt Katz/Samantha Cohen

Junior Doubles: Mandel/Josephs bt Sammy Kaye/Jamie Rosen

    Last updated: 2:14pm, May 1 2012