Super Stokes retains Maccabi crown
Top seed Ashley Stokes retained the men’s singles title at Maccabi GB Table Tennis Championships in Harefield.
Stokes beat third seed Zak Zilesnick in five sets following his semi-final win over fourth seed Eli Baraty. Zilesnick shocked second seed Dov Katz in the last four.
With nearly 100 competitors of all ages taking part across nine events on 11 tables the Maccabi GB Open Table Tennis Championships which took place at the Harefield Academy on Sunday once again set the scene for some extraordinary and scintillating play from a dream list of Jewish Table Tennis players many of whom are ranked highly on the official England ranking list.
Zilesnick, the 14 year old wonder kid who last weekend became the English national under 15 Table Tennis champion, almost pulled off an unprecedented record by winning the Cadet Mixed Singles against Dean Clyne, the Junior Boys Singles against his old sparring partner the powerful Guy Ben-Aroya, and the Mens Doubles before narrowly losing in the final of the men's open to the title holder Ashley Stokes in the final set.
Zilesnick, who entered the world senior ranking list last week, partnered Maccabiah doyen Dov Katz to win the mens doubles. After a riveting semi final which went the full distance against the talented pairing of Rafi Marom and Guy Ben-Aroya Zilesnick and Katz eventually went on to win setting up a final against Keith Lesser and Matt Spero who fought hard only to face disappointment at losing 11-9 in the fifth and final game. Katz rolling back the years with his 4th Mens Doubles title.
In the absence of nine times winners Sally Prowen and Dov Katz, Ashley Stokes the top 50 England ranked 19 year old and number one seed started his campaign by winning the mixed doubles round robin with Jo Radivan putting Jeremy Banks and Dana Samuwitz from South Africa into second place. In the mens singles, usually the most anticipated event, he beat a number of quality players including Guy Ben-Aroya and Eli Baraty to set up the final against Zilesnick who beat Katz in the semis. Initially Stokes found himself 2 games down leaving Zilesnick needing one more game for a historic victory. Stokes on the other hand was having none of it and after snatching the third game he went on to win the fourth before fighting hard for his title in a volley of topspin counter attacks to win the ultimate set 11-9.
In other events there were a number of further notable matches. In particular the Junior Boy's Doubles, where again we saw the partnership of Marom and Ben-Aroya who this time clinched the winners medal by beating Jonny Khedair and Yoni Smith.
Newcomer to the tournament Ivan Lewis beat Jeremy Banks in the Veteran's event, Darren Reece held on to his title from last year by beating Khedair in the Mixed Banded event and Samuwitz won the Womens round robin with Radiven in second place.
Mel Davidson, Chairman of Maccabi GB Table Tennis said 'once again this event has proved that there is a lot of Table Tennis talent in the Jewish community and there is much more coming through from the cadet and junior age groups. We have a great number of skilled players who go around the country throughout the year chalking up ranking points bringing them to the forefront of the game nationally and we are grateful that they come to support this tournament and enjoy the kudos that it brings. As always it takes many hours of hard work to bring about but in the end it is worth it, I am delighted that everyone seemed to enjoy themselves and this year's venue was a big hit with the players.
“Apart from the players who took part there are a number of other people who help in the making of this event from the volunteers who help umpires to others who perform more general duties but in particular I would like to thank the Tournament Referee, International Umpire Alan Shepherd for his work before and on the day and also Tony and Jackie Jacks and Christine Davidson all of whom worked tirelessly to make sure that everything ran as smooth as possible.'
Men's Singles: Ashley Stokes bt Zak Zilesnick 9-11, 5-11, 11-9, 11-6, 11-9
Mens Doubles: Dov Katz & Zilesnick bt Keith Lesser & Matt Spero 11-6, 5-11, 12-14, 11-3, 11-9
Junior Boy's: Singles Zilesnick bt Guy Ben Aroya 11-9, 6-11, 14-12, 13-11
Cadet Mixed Singles: Zilesnick bt Dean Clyne 11-3, 11-3, 11-5
Junior Boy's Doubles: Rafi Marom & Ben-Aroya bt Jonny Khedair & Yoni Smith 11-3,11-3,11-4
Veterans Men's Singles: Ivan Lewis bt Jeremy Banks 11-8, 11-6, 12-10
Banded Mixed Singles: Darren Reece bt Khedair 11-4, 11-6, 11-1
Women's Singles (round robin): winner Dana Samuwitz, runner up Jo Radiven
Mixed Doubles (round robin): winners Stokes & Radiven, runners up Banks & Samuwitz
Yoram and Sylvia Katz award for the most promising young sportsman: Zak Zilesnick
The Milly Supperstein award for Outstanding achievement: Tony Jacks