Sport

UEA Men’s Table Tennis claim impressive win

The University of East Anglia Men’s Table Tennis team got their season off to a convincing start with a 16-1 away victory against the University of Lincoln.

In British University & Colleges Sport (BUCS) Table Tennis, each team member plays against a member of the opposite team, with matches scored in a first to 11 and then best of five sets. In a team of four, this means there is the possibility of 17 points on offer for any one matchday.

The opening round of fixtures pitted UEA against the University of Bedford, but due to Bedford’s inability to field a team, UEA were awarded a walkover victory. That meant that UEA’s fixture against Lincoln provided the first real opportunity to put points on the board and the men took full advantage.

Going into the match, Lincoln’s first team were unbeaten and topped the fledgling Midlands 3A League table. Despite this, UEA’s opponents remained an unknown quantity, with no members of the East Anglia side having played against Lincoln previously. The UEA team was strong ahead of the contest, Paul Hume, Tom Lo, Tom Faulkner and Tinka Falana representing the university.

Although confidence was high, no-one could have foreseen what was about to unfold. In the opening games, Hume and Lo both dispatched their lower ranked opponents in a matter of minutes with  ease. Hume claimed the first bagel of the day – an 11-0 scoreline – as UEA stormed into an early 2-0 lead. Falana and Faulkner, however, were pitted against higher ranked opponents. Falana was up first, against Lincoln’s number one ranked played, the UEA whirlwind smashed shots left and right to take a 2-0 lead in the game. Lincoln came back in the third set, Falana forced out to 11-9, but the debutant recovered and just 16 points later the game was UEA’s, the lead now at 3-0 from the opening three matches.

On the other table, Faulkner was locked in an epic battle with Lincoln’s number two seed. With his experience of fixtures in the Norwich & District Table Tennis League, Faulkner rose to heap the pressure on struggling Lincoln. In a tight affair and with the scoreline continuing to sway back and forth, Faulkner took the initiative with the scores tied at nine apiece to record a crucial fifth set victory and claim an overall 4-0 lead for UEA. Despite his excellent performance in the opener, Faulkner was unable to hold his form and suffered a straight sets defeat to Lincoln’s top seed for what proved to be UEA’s only loss of the afternoon.

Falana, meanwhile, was continuing to enjoy a dream debut. The new-boy dispatched yet another higher ranked opponent in a thrilling fifth set decider to all but confirm UEA’s imminent victory. Tom Lo then claimed the second bagel of the day, while Hume recorded another straightforward victory to leave UEA 7-1 ahead at the halfway stage.

With the victory sealed, it was now Faulkner and Falana’s turn to face the lower ranked players. Despite a small blip in concentration, Falana continued his near faultless performance to secure a four set victory, while Faulkner added a third whitewash of the afternoon to make it 9-1 to UEA. Hume also got in on the act, pushing aside Lincoln’s number two ranked player in another straight sets victory. Lo finished strong in his hardest game of the day, brushing aside Lincoln’s best player 11-2 in the fifth and final set.

With the doubles and one round of singles games to come, UEA found themselves 11-1 ahead. In the final selection of games and with each player facing his opposite ranked seed, UEA dropped just two more games. Hume, Faulkner and Falala all won in straight sets, and although Tom Lo was forced into a decider, his experience and composure shone through to send UEA into an extraordinary 15-1 lead.

The doubles matches saw UEA continue their domination, the pairing of Hume and Faulkner going 11-5, 11-6, 11-5 to complete a humiliating afternoon for Lincoln.

UEA’s first win sets up an exciting season, with the Midlands 3A League title the aim for the men. Lincoln had no response to a hugely impressive performance in which the UEA men showed class and composure to clinically dispatch a potential bogey team and get their first win on the board.

09/11/2016

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