The 18th Summer Open saw reigning club champion Jon Evans recapture a title he first won in the early days of the event (the OTT Summer Open, remember that?) with a thrilling 3-2 win over top seed Liam Gutcher in the A final.
In truth it looked unlikely that Evans, the former Welsh International, would even make the final when he found himself 5-0 down in the fifth in his semi-final against Adam Oliver, who had taken out second seed Matt Hardy in the quarter-finals earlier that day.
But Oliver, making a welcome return to competitive action after a few fallow seasons, had spent his energies getting that far and had nothing left. “I tried to play Jon at his own game, getting everything back and taking out his batteries,” revealed Oliver, who went on to beat James CHB Wilson in the third/fourth playoff. “But he just wouldn’t die, and after I’d hit a few winners at the start of the fifth I knew I was gone.”
Gutcher had beaten Wilson 3-1 in another tough semi-final – although when the Northern youngster used his double-handed backhand to great effect as he streaked into a 9-0 lead in the first it threatened to be over quickly – and in the final faced someone 30 years his elder.
“To be honest my first goal was to play a decent game and not get annihilated,” admitted Evans after the final. “After that I was hoping to get a game, but I didn’t expect any more than that since I know that Steve [Calvert, who plays above Evans on the Tynemouth first team] can’t get close to Liam.”
The Welsh Wizard’s fears looked like coming true as Gutcher looked very sharp in taking the first game 11/5, but Evans never knows when he’s beaten, and he came back to take the next game with the same scoreline before getting the better of three competitive games to take the title.
That was Tynemouth’s only title as Steve Robertson lost an entertaining B final, 11/9 in the fifth against Newbiggin’s Dave Jackson, Kevin Jackson was comprehensively outplayed by Consett youngster Matthew Youngman in the C final and Steve Cubbins lost 3/2 to Ashington’s Paul Bell in the D climax.
A good tournament, with a few less entries than usual possibly due to the later scheduling – it wasn’t really Summer was it, despite the MCs attempt to liven up proceedings with a canary yellow shirt – but the draws were nicely rounded, all went well and finals night featured a decent crowd and an entertaining series of matches.
Thanks to everyone who entered and helped out, see you next year for the 19th edition, hopefully on the traditional August Bank Holiday weekend.
Report from Steve Cubbins