The last week of September saw Berkeley’s very first intramural table tennis competition take place. 16 of Berkeley finest middle and high school students got together to see who would be crowned champion. The competition was spread out over the week and there was a lot of excitement at lunchtimes when the participants gathered to play.
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The opening rounds of pairings were hard fought. All of the first round losers had the chance of a comeback after being placed in B Group pool. There was an A Group for those students who kept winning, and a B Group for those who did not do quite as well. There were a total of 31 games including the final, so it was a long hard way to the top. The opening rounds were a one game knock out, so it paid to be fully warmed up before the real games started.
Those players who put on very convincing wins in the first rounds were Ta-Ta, Kong, Ped, Gabriele, Nina, Puffy, Tarn and Babe. These winners automatically went through to the winners group while the rest were sent to a losers table with the daunting task of clawing their way back to the top. It was clear from the beginning that there would be a few players who would make their mark on the tournament.
Once the quarter finals were set, the games were played on a best of 3 basis with each game going up to 11 points. The final game would be for a best of 5. The two finalists in the A Group were Kong and Babe, and the winner of their match up would find himself automatically in the final while the loser went on to play the winner of the B Group in another semi final match up.
With some gripping forehand smashes Babe defeated Kong and found himself in the final. Kong should have realized then that the only way he was going to beat Babe was to foil his forehand smash. This oversight in his later match preparations would come back to haunt him. He would learn shortly thereafter the results from the other semi final which included Gabriele and the only girl still surviving in the tournament Nina.
In a tough fought nail biting best of 3 match of blistering quality and pace Nina overcame Gabrielle 2-1 to book her place in the next semi final against Kong. Gabrielle, who is a very bright and clever player was relying too heavily on his forehand smash, Nina recognized this and foiled his aspirations with a series of backhand chops and her spin shots. Would a Berkeley girl make it to the final?
Expected to perform from the start Kong went head to head with Nina in a best of 3 match and actually dropped his first set of the competition. He settled his nerves for set 2, his perseverance and strength paid off and he narrowly defeated our battling young pretender 2-1 to book his place in the final against his old arch rival Babe.
There were many who were undecided about who would win the trophy on the final day and a strong crowd of students showed up to cheer on their favorite players. In a best of 5 sets it became very clear from the first round of serves who stood the best chance of winning. Babe with his smooth forehand and delicate touches dominated from the beginning of the game, and constantly put Kong on the back foot. The more defensive that Kong became in his game, the more encouraged Babe became, and once he got his forehand smash going, there was no stopping him.
Kong showed some flashes of brilliance but it was all too little too late and Babe defeated him in straight sets to lift the crown. The loud crowd showed their enthusiasm with a rapturous round of applause and cheers once the final smash went over. We would like to congratulate all of our players who took part in this tournament. It was conducted with the best of sportsmanship and fair play.
All the players gave their best effort and much fun was had by all. For the time being, Babe can hold his head high as Berkeley’s first table tennis champion.