Ruthless Rumgay Reigns
Report on the Men’s & Women’s singles at Saturday’s Scottish National Championships. Gavin Rumgay collected his 12th national title and Lynda Flaws her 3rd and her 1st since 2013.
Gavin Rumgay produced a commanding performance as he secured a record-equalling 12th national singles title at Bell’s Sports Centre, Perth. After the dramas of the 2016 final, he produced a more relaxed performance this year.
The absence of several leading players (Craig Howieson, Kenny Lindsay & Chris Main) and an uneven draw meant that there was plenty scope for some surprise results and players reaching further than might normally be expected.
Gavin said that the victory ‘meant a lot’-especially as he had now drawn level with Euan Walker on 12 national titles. The victory also brought him a sense of relief as playing in Scotland was ‘always difficult’ as the players all ‘know his game’ and are familiar with his serves.
He admitted that his main focus has been his professional team in Switzerland but that this had allowed him to play in a more ‘relaxed’ frame of mind and let his game ‘flow’. He had also been ‘ruthless’ when required-such as in his dominant performance in the final. Here he often let his opponent Richie Main open with his strong forehand but was able to block with ease and counter-punch when the right ball. Though he was prepared to ‘win ugly’, he also played some sparkling attacking TT-much to the pleasure of his large group of supporters. The 4-0 score was an accurate reflection of his dominance in the final.
Gavin had a less than easy start-his opening group was a particularly tough one: Stewart Crawford, Sepehr Bidari and the ever-tricky Stephen Gray. His tightest game score-wise was his 5-set group match with Sepehr. Sepehr caused Gavin plenty problems but Gavin was able to step up a gear in the 5th, taking it 11-6.
Though he lost out to John Hannah (11-13 in the 5th) in his group, Scott Barton had an excellent day as his sublime blocks and flicks helped him make the semi-finals. He began his run with a good victory over Drumchapel clubmate Sepehr Bidari. His 3-1 win over Chris Wheeler in the last 16 was a bit of a surprise (-5, 5, 6, 5). Chris cut a disconsolate figure after the match. In their quarter-final, Keir Morton was unable to maintain his level after a strong start: Scott winning 3-1 (-10, 10, 7, 8). Scott’s good run was ended by Richie Main in the semis: Richie putting in an impressive performance and was able to attack Scott’s serves as he won 3-0 (11, 9, 3).
In one of the best matches of the day, North Ayrshire teammates Colin Dalgleish and Richie Main clashed in the quarter-finals. Richie soon went 2-0 up before Colin found some form and Richie’s forehand went slightly cold.
At 5-2 up in the decider the momentum was clearly with the No. 2 seed before Richie battled back to 8-6 up and went on to go through to the final (9, 8, -5, -7, 7). Richie won some vital points with his backhand-perhaps the new grip is starting to pay dividends… Colin was left feeling that a great chance had been missed.
Calum Main put up a really good fight in the semi-finals, testing Gavin throughout but -as he ruefully reflected after the match- missed some forehands at key moments and lost in 4 sets (-10, 6, 5, 9). The lengthy rallies in this match fully entertained the watching crowd. Gavin had reached the semis via swift 3-0 wins over up and coming Danny Bajwa (who was just happy not to have been ‘grannied’) and then Sean Doherty in the quarter-finals (6, 2, 4). Sean had previously fought past Dundee-based John Hannah-coming back from 1-2 down (-13, 9, -8, 4, 5).
Lynda Flaws won the women’s singles event as she swept through her final three matches. The performance of young Faye Leggett was arguably the standout feature of the event.
Lynda was happy with the way she recovered after being caught slightly cold by Faye in her 1st match of the day and playing ‘far too passively’. Faye’s backhand attack was the dominant feature of her 3-2 win. The loss meant that Lynda had to battle through the tougher side of the draw: having to beat reigning champion Rebecca Plaistow (5, 7, 8) and Gillian Edwards. In her semi with Gillian she played her best match of the day, winning 3-0 (13, 7, 8). After battling past Tessa Yau (7, 5, -9, -8, 5) Faye breezed through her semi-final against Alisa Khalid 3-0 (2, 6, 5).
Lynda dominated the final-only a nervy finish to the 4th set allowing Faye a foothold in the match. Lynda soon drew ahead in the 5th set and eventually sealed it 11-4 (7, 6, 4. -11, 4). She generously told her young opponent that she should ‘be proud of herself’. Faye will surely have learnt from playing in such a big match at such a young age. It was Lynda’s first national title since winning in 2012 & 2013.
Report by Charlie Ellis.
Thanks to Ken Benjamin for comments on an earlier version of this report.