Christopher Franklin made a successful defence of the men’s singles title he won in 2016 by coming back from two sets to love down to defeat Shemar Britton 3-2 in the penultimate round of the eight-man round robin finals of the Guyana Table Tennis Association senior national championships at the National Gymnasium last evening.
After prevailing 13-11 in a tense fifth and final game, an elated Franklin laid of the floor of the gymnasium with obvious relief after snatching victory from the jaws of defeat against his training partner and Malteenoes Sports Club teammate.
The scheduled start of the round robin finals was delayed as the badminton players went through their paces at the facility and left a few of the players frustrated at the late start.
However, once the play began it was all business as Franklin took out overseas based Matthew Khan 3-1 winning 11-4, 7-11, 11-9, and 11-7.
In that round, the fourth of the seven rounds, Joel Alleyne got the better of veteran Colin France 7-11, 4-11, 11-7, 13-11, 11-6 while Britton outlasted fellow southpaw Kyle Edghill also in five games winning 11-6, 9-11, 11-4, 10-12 and 11-8.
The Edghill/Britton clash was filled with fierce backhand rallies, loops and counter loops and clever services while the fans were enthralled by the evergreen France who in one point switched the racket to his left hand for a forehand smash winning the point. His ambidexterity and defensive prowess, however, were all in vain as Alleyne came roaring back to win the last three games and the match.
With Britton defeating Khan in the fifth round 3-1 and Franklin getting the better of Alleyne also by a 3-1 score, it set the stage for the virtual final in the sixth round when the two unbeaten players clashed.
It was by all accounts a dream final.
Britton took the first two games with relative ease winning 11-6, 11-6.
The loops flew off Britton’s racket and Franklin seemed to have no answer to the onslaught and the crowning of a new champion seemed imminent.
But in the pivotal third game Franklin’s tomahawk serve started to work and he was able to either win the point outright on his serve or get the attack.
Matters were not helped when Britton won a point but Franklin objected saying that the ball was wet. Sportsman that he is Britton agreed to replay the point which he won although he was to lose the game 9-11.
Given a new lease on life Franklin took an early lead in the fourth game before prevailing 11-9 setting the stage for a winner take all fifth and final game.
At 8 all, Britton won two points courtesy of the two `ride-net’ points and it seemed all over. But Franklin won the next point and then too got the benefit of the net before winning 13-11.
In the final round, Bryan defeated Franklin 5-11, 6-11, 11-5 and 3-11, Alleyne defeated Edghill 9-11, 15-13, 14-12 and 11-9 and Khan beat France 11-9, 11-9, 11-6.
The final placings were Franklin, Britton, Bryan, Alleyne, Khan, France, Edghill and Johnson, who did not play yesterday because of illness.