Ben Foss became the 37th different player to lift the Lions Jack Carrington trophy on Monday evening when he overturned a 2-1 deficit to overcome 2009 champion Paul Hainsworth in the showpiece final. The tournament excludes any player to have competed in the blue riband ‘Green Trophy’ Inter-Insular event within the past 2 years and this is a large factor in the open nature of the tournament, owing to the 37 different winners over the 63 year history of the event.
It has also been amazingly 15 years since the title was won in consecutive years and this was achieved by Mark Pipet in 2001 and 2002.
The Green Trophy stipulation prevented current players Garry Dodd, Joshua Stacey and Joshua Butler from entering this season.
The tournament has a history of receiving a healthy number of entries and this season was no different, with a season highest singles tournament entry of 33 players.
The group stages did not produce too many surprises, however the biggest came when 2nd Division player Sam Clark secured a superb 4 set victory over the Whistlers Junior left handed Division 1 player Ryan Gilson. Jez Powell and Andre De Carteret battled out a nervy 5 setter, which the former edged 12-10 and on an adjacent table, there was an excellent showing between 2 of the Island’s younger prospects. 2nd Division player Corey Brouard just about managed to overcome 3rd Division player Callum Gilson 13-11 in the decider, having saved 3 match points from 7-10.
Into the knockout stages and each of the 8 seeded players duly made it through to the quarter finals, with the sole exception being that of number 5 seed Matthew Casey, who was defeated by the in form Clark, picking up his second Division 1 scalp of the evening, also over 4 sets.
There was resistance from the defeated opposition in each of the Quarter finals, however the event went to form and the top 4 seeds in the guise of Lawrence Stacey, Phil Ogier, Hainsworth and Foss made it through to the semis.
Stacey is one of the players to have been selected for the 2017 Green Trophy tussle with Jersey and will be unable to play in the event for the next few years. He looked set to live up to his billing as top seed and reach the final, whilst leading 3rd seed Hainsworth in the semis, having taken the tight openers 12-10, 14-12. Hainsworth though, showed strong resolve on the night and battled back strongly to complete an excellent comeback, 11-7, 11-5, 11-6 the scores in the remaining games.
In the other semi final, Foss was competing against 2nd seed Ogier and whilst a tight encounter, another upset occurred and the youngster came through in 4 ends, 11-9, 15-13, 7-11, 11-8.
Hainsworth set the pace in the entertaining final when he took the opener and third games 11-7, however this was matched by Foss who won the 2nd and 4th by the exact same score. Crucially Foss started the decider stronger and he opened up a commanding 6-1 lead to put himself within touching distance of the title. Hainsworth once more showed good fight and managed to restore parity at 6-6. Foss held his nerve and played a few strong points to give himself breathing room once more and he took the crown at the second time of asking to close out the match 11-8 at just after 23:00 at the GTTA Centre.
The next set of Open Singles tournaments to take place are the Divisional Championships, which will take place at the start of April, following which the Island Championships will conclude the season from 21st-28th April.
Before that is the annual Individual Handicap Singles competition, which will be contested on 20th March. It was in fact Foss that took this title last year, beating Joshua Stacey in the final.