English no. 2 Kelly Sibley beat no.1 Joanna Parker to claim the trophy at the English National Table Tennis Championships yesterday at Ponds Forge.
Sibley won the final 4-1 (11-6, 3-11, 12-10, 11-9, 11-5) against a lacklustre Parker, who looked beaten from its offset.
The first set saw a familiar dynamic for the two players, with Parker staying defensive in response to Kelly’s offensive strategy. A slow start for Parker cost her the first set as Sibley took it 6-11.
In the second, Parker turned up the heat, leaving an intimidated Sibley off guard to attack. Sibley looked nervous and hesitant as Parker stormed through the first seven points, only giving a few points to Sibley before winning the set 3-11.
The third set was much different, with the two players neck-and-neck as they reached 3-3. The set however turned as Parker lost the next point, unleashing a squeal of frustration. After a few close rallies, it was Sibley that eventually took control of the match.
Parker had now lost her confidence by the fourth and was unable to withstand the continued onslaught from Sibley, losing the set 11-9.
An oddly relaxed Parker failed to fight back in the final game, with the English no.2 appearing to grow even stronger and more determined as the finishing line came into full view. She alternated between hard and soft shots taking the match with a comfortable four games to one.
‘Really really pleased’
After the match, Sibley commented on her victory: “I am really really pleased – very happy. I knew it was always going to be very tough against Jo.”
She admitted that she was apprehensive about facing the English no. 1, claiming that “her attack has improved so much – it was putting me under loads of pressure.”
She added: “I just dug in, and it was just for me on the day really.”
Parker seemed surprisingly positive post-match, saying “I think we both played really well – it was a good match.”
She added: “It was frustrating as two of the games were close.”