First of all we must mention the venue. A fabulous historic hall that provided the grandest of settings for the weekend’s play. The Dolphin centre staff were always at hand and very helpful with any requests or issues we had. We were looking for the best venue in a central location that would showcase Darlington to potential visitors and I think we managed to achieve that. The facilities and service were excellent and we were even provided with our own private snack kiosk in the corner. Also we were treated to another fantastic welcome speech from our Darlington MC Steve Rose.
In the serious stuff we had some good results. A particular highlight was Danny Warr, aged 10, winning beginner singles. Even more impressive he beat Eliza Kilian in the final who won both Women’s and Amateur Singles. There were also the usual wins for Alice Warr in Junior Singles and Alice & Sophie in Junior Doubles. Matty & Alice also managed to win Mixed Doubles, double dipping Rich Marsh and Donna Walker in the final after having lost earlier to them.
The icing on the cake was the victory for Callum Oakes in Open Singles. Matty and Callum were pitted against each other early on in the winner’s side with Matty prevailing. This turned out to be the only time Callum lost a singles game all day. He came back through the loser’s side beating Eddie Edwards, Mike Amsden, Matty again and Steve Lyall before meeting Rich Marsh in the final. The battle of the backwards baseball caps.
The first set was ridiculously close with Rich having several match points but Callum managed to hang on for the 3-2 win. The second set went Callum’s way 3-1 to finish the tournament in style with a home win.
One particularly unique feature of the weekend was having a film crew in attendance. We were joined by James and his group of film students from Northumbria University who recorded the action mixed with player interviews, features etc. They also filmed the whole OS final. Their aim is to do some follow up stuff and produce a documentary about the sport, so we wait excitedly to see what they can produce.
So overall we were very happy with the way the tournament went. We were working with a tight time schedule so some game formats had to be tinkered with, but we got finished well within time and all the tables were put up and taken down without any assistance needed from the travelling players. Hopefully everybody enjoyed their trip to Darlington and we’ll do it all again next year!
All at Darlington TFC
So here is my afterglow for the Tornado Worlds:
First of all I had the exact same partners last year.
Last years results:
OD – 3rd with Tommy
OS – 5th
OM – 2nd with Midori
Going into the tournament I didn’t have any Tornado practice, you can mess around with the ball at home but it doesn’t replicate actually playing against someone.
I have good chemistry with both partners so was happy to be doing it again this year.
Mixed was the first event, I let Midori play front in the first match as it was against a team we have never seen and she is a forward normally… we lose the first game and decide to switch, killed them 5-0 but in the last they got 4 lucky ones and beat us on match ball, so it wasn’t the best start.
So we decide to start drinking and go on a fun run through the losers bracket!! The more we drank the better we played (well it felt like that to me ) we had 1 match I think at 9th place against Li Liem a pro player, they had us down 1-0 and 4-2
In the 2nd game but we came back and won on match ball.. we also won match ball against Paul & Hannah Smith and against Tracy McMillan/Jackie Han.
I was shooting pull kicks and tic tacs that whole day and it was working a treat. So we finished the day at 4th place and our next match would be against Todd/Kristin at noon the next day.
We beat that team last year in the same spot, this time round it was a similar outcome, the only difference is I had to shoot a pin shot as it was too early to do any fancy shots as I didn’t have the right feeling (hungover) but I scored nearly every time, won 5-1 in the last game.
Next up was Tony Spredeman and Ellen Moon, Last year they beat us in the winners bracket and the final, he scores really good on Midori so we knew we he had our work cut out. We stole the 1st 5-4 after being down 4-2, lost the next 5-3 and then lost 5-4 match ball in the last game, He closed it well.
They went on to Lose the final to Ryan and Lynda Ly. So a podium finish in the first event wasn’t the worst start after losing the first round in the winners, I was playing decent and knew I would get better over time.
OS started and I noticed my bracket opened up nicely so I decided to really try this year, that sounds shitty but normally OD gets my full attention and singles takes a back seat. my plan was to shoot a pin shot every match until I need to use my snake, I got through my first 2 very comfortably… my first tough match was in the last 16 against Scott Ohare from Tampa (pro doubles world champion) he has a really fast pull shot and a tic tac series on the 5. He started out playing great and I was a bit lazy while working him out so I lost the first game, I step up and win game 2 but it was close still, I made huge adjustments game 3 and 4 and won in 4 close games.
I then had to play Kevin Romero who’s a very talented/fast player out of Costa Rica, i killed him in 3 games, he scored 5/6 points in total, so I’m sitting in 5th place and see my next match is against either Ryan Moore or Brandon Moreland, Brandon beat him in 5 games so I was slightly surprised. I have only played him once before about 10 years ago and beat him and noticed he hasn’t played much in the last few years, I was still confident.
I played awfully bad against him, I was dropping passes, rushing my shots, he was consistent and better on every rod than me in this match, he won 3-1, off to the losers bracket I go and I was done for the day at that point.
So I wake up Sunday feeling energised, put some positive music on and checked the payouts to remind me about what I can win.
I have to play my first losers match against Nathan Winter, he stopped touring about 9 years ago and came back.. he used to give a lot of top players problems back then so I took him seriously.
1st game I was up 4-2 and had 3 shots to win but lost.
2nd game I was up 3-1 and had shots on 4-4 but lost again.. he got on my pin shot and was blocking it well. So at this point he is just pot shooting, not really looking at my D on the 5 or 3 so I’m guessing with him, I should really be 2 games up and not the other way round. So I wasn’t overly worried as I knew I just needed to convert the opportunities as I feel I’m playing better than him.
So it was time to bring out the snake shot, I win game 3 5-1, game 4 I win 5-2 and then in the 5th game 5-3, I didn’t miss a single snake shot.. so now I’m at 4th place, an extra $200 in my pocket as the payouts from 5th upwards are:
I knew from this point every match is worth 500 more and upwards.
I have to play Blake Robertson next at 4th place to 3rd, he beat me last year in the 5th game and has been the best doubles player this year on the tour so I know he’s playing well. I stepped up my game and in a fast match I won 3-0. 5-1, 5-3, 5-2. I could see he wasn’t that sharp so I jumped on him early and didn’t give him a chance to breathe in this match.
Now I want revenge on Brandon, as he lost to Tony in the WBF. Ryan was put out by Tracy, Blake beat Tracy then lost to me.
Todd, Mares, Tommy, Terry, Tommy Yore all lost around 9/12th.
I play Brandon with energy and won 5-0 in the first game, after that I felt my wrist tense and lock up and was unable to do any wall passes with any sort of authority, he worked that out quickly and shut down my 5, out scrapped me and won 3-1 again. So 3rd place an improvement on last year but worse than my 2nd in Vegas.. I can’t complain.
So OD finally starts late on Sunday, our plan before the tournament was for Tommy to play forward until we get to 5th place and then for me to take over after that. The reason for this is because his 5 bar defence is so effective against nearly all the players bar 3/4 and he’s a bully/intimidating player to play against.
This was working fine the first 2/3 games and then we played Paul Smith/Erik Hueltner in the WB 1/4 final (9th-5th) Paul was living with the ball and passed nearly every time but I started out blocking well and we won the first game, in the 2nd paul continued his good play and got on a mini run against me and Erik was blocking tommy good, they won the 2nd game and then immediately went up 2-0 in the 3rd game, I could sense danger at this point but we got lucky as Tommy’s bumper broke so we called table maintenance and it took them nearly 1 hour to come and fix it, it couldn’t of come at a better time as they had the momentum.
We return and make it 2-1 and then I go on and lock down Paul’s shot, I was baiting for just the right amount of time and was keying in when he was shooting, someone said I blocked 8/9 in a row and he has one of the best snakes on tour. We win the next 2 games 5-4 to take the match in 4 games, Tommy closed the games like a champ.
So Sunday is over and we expect to play Brandon and Blake next as they are in our bracket but found out that a pro team shocked them and won against them 8-7 in the 5th. So the draw opened up for us like it did in singles.
Monday at noon we play against Dewey Culpepper and his partner, I could see they were nervous and told Tommy to put the heat on them right away, he did just that, we won 3-0 in a matter of minutes!! Winners final here we go!
We have to play the winner of Ryan/Bobby and Dave Gummeson/Tracy, both teams are multi times world champs so it will be tough either way and our first top (as in top 3/4) team to play. Ryan And Diaz win in 3 games so it’s a repeat of last years winners bracket final (which they won 5-4 in the 4th game last year against us).
I wanted to play goalie as my left hand still didn’t feel good and Tommy was playing like a man possessed.
I had a plan going into this game and I was very confident we could win. My plan was to use a stationary bank series to clear the ball to Bobby Diaz and limit turn overs and mistakes, so the only way Ryan gets a 3 bar possession is from his 5 bar passing and nothing else.
Tommy is really good at shutting Diaz down from his 2 bar and getting the occasional stuff and turnover, so we use the phrase ‘kick it to dio’ and he will then give Tommy the ball.
The series went just as planned. We won game 1, lost game 2, Won game 3 and at this stage I blocked Ryan’s snake 6/7 times in a row and he didn’t even score 1 in the 3rd game. I felt really comfortable defending everyone all weekend.
In game 4 he switched to a pull shot, I blocked a couple but then he scored 3 in a row and Tommy wasn’t getting opportunities so they lead 3-0 in game 4. In my head this 4th game is over so I let Ryan score 2 middles against me on purpose as I had a plan for the 5th game. Tommy also did a couple of push sides on Diaz to keep him on that side of the goal for the 5th game, this was all just a plan to win the last.
Tommy scores the first point, Ryan immediately gets it and tries the same shot which I have 2 men on and block and I smoke a bank to make it 2-0. I block again, hit a bank and Tommy picks it up and drills a pull side.. the game was over in 2-3 mins a 5-1 in the last game to take us to the final! Clay Tumney did the stats, Ryan was only scoring under 40%, Tommy a bit less but he had a lot more shots. I cleared the ball 80% (which is unheard of) I actually got the ball back on the ones I didn’t so no turnovers, Bobby only cleared 50% so the idea to pick on him worked perfectly, I scored 4 banks in the match too. There was a lot of shit talking going on between Tommy and Bobby as they are both the best of it so for comedy value alone it’s worth a watch.
So we are waiting for the final, Blake and Brandon play Ryan and Bobby to get to us, I went to my room for a while to rest, I come down after about an hour. The losers’ bracket final is a thriller, Bobby is blocking Blake really good but he keeps getting the ball… They are leading 2-1 and has the ball in the 4th game to win but Ryan steals it and makes a clutch play to send it to game 5. There were a lot of momentum swings in game 5 but Ryan/Bobby won 8-6 in the 5th game after Bobby blocked a lot of shots! I didn’t really care who we played as I would lose nervous energy investing myself in one of the teams, I was just trying to scout and see what each player was doing on big points (1st ball, 3-3 and 4-4)
This was only my 2nd Open Doubles final at the Tornado Worlds after losing with Joe in 2013, that year we won the winners bracket too but got the sad Rob Davey news literally just before the final so it was difficult to play our best game. We got double dipped that year to Tony and Rob Mares. I have been 3rd every year since then with different partners.
I was calmly confident going in and was really focused on doing my job, I knew I was blocking well, they used a different zone in the finals but I was still effective. I was mixing it up a bit more though offensively.
We come out hot, Ryan starts with his pull shot series which I thought he would. I started blocking a few, tommy is scoring great and we win the first 5-2 I think… a great start to the final, Ryan then steps it up and dominates the 2nd game, Bobby starts blocking a bit better, all the crowd are on our side and cheering after every ball…. the atmosphere was electric as everyone that was in the room was watching the final.
1-1 and we are down 4-2 and i pull a defensive switch as Ryan was getting in a rhythm with his pull, we get some blocks and I made a couple of snakes with a slop to win and steal that game which was huge! So we are 1 game away from being the Tornado World Champs, game 4 is quite tight but they win 5-3 and then in game 5 Ryan steals 2 passes and immediately it’s 2-0, Bobby scores his only point next and the next thing is we lost 5-0 in the 5th… I didn’t block enough and Tommy stopped scoring.
I said if we do end up losing the first match we take as longer break as possible to regroup, I think I took over 45 mins.
I’m still confident and believe we can win, they are the best team in the world over the last 5 years so aren’t gonna cave in and hand it to us.
The crowd gets hyped up again and we start the 2nd match, They quickly lead 3-0, Tommy then puts me up front, the only time in the whole tournament that I’ve played front and it’s in the toughest scenario you can imagine.
I come out and make it 3-1, tommy starts blocking Ryan now and I score a few and it’s 4-4, then I block one of Diaz’s shots into his goal to steal game 1, I didn’t miss a shot. I didn’t have many 5 man possessions so wasn’t sure yet how it is.
Game 2 we defensively shut them down between us, we got a couple breaks and I was scoring when I got it and we win 5-1!
Suddenly we are 2-0 up in the final match!! This is when it got harder, Ryan was taking more time, went to his snake shot and was scoring well on tommy, my 5 bar dried up and they dominate game 3, they started well in game 4 too, my wrist was still locked up so was struggling with anything offensively and Bobby started blocking now too, you could see the momentum shift from a mile away so it’s now 2-2 in games, I take the full time to come up with a 5 bar series for game 5, I found one
I pass and score 1-0, I switch with Tommy, block Ryan, clear it to Tommy, he takes a time out and I score it again! 2-0, switch again, tommy blocks his 5 but he gets it again and rags it through to his 3 bar, Ryan scores 2-1, I pass again but Bobby blocks, shoots and it goes off a guy and scraps in… 2-2. I had another shot at 2-2 but missed, Ryan gets it and scores. I had chances in the last game but missed them.. they win 5-3 in the last game. I’ll tell you 1 thing, you can practice every day forever but nothing will prepare you for the pressure you feel in those moments, I’m normally calm under pressure but this time it got to me and they were better when it mattered.. full credit to them on how they raised their game when their back was against the wall. I was gutted for a while after and still am as I feel I missed a great opportunity to win the biggest/most prestigious doubles event in the world. I’ll watch it back and see where I messed up but I know if my left arm was anything like it is normally I could of had 1 or 2 world titles as it let me down in singles and in the doubles final. I know next time I’ll be better mentally as I’ll draw on the experience of this time!
My final payouts were:
$1500 in singles
$2500 each in doubles
$150 each in mixed.
I’m satisfied with the results as I wasn’t well practised and they are combined my best showings at worlds. In Vegas this year I was 2nd in OS and OD in a larger field but it wasn’t the worlds. It just shows that if I did dedicate some time and put some hours in then I can win over there and cause anyone problems.
I asked Mary and there were just shy of 500 players, payouts were deeper (down to 32nd $200 in OS and 400 in OD).
We found out the Costa Ricans are a force to be reckoned with, really skilled and fast paced players. A good atmosphere and a well ran tournament, events weren’t starting till noon so you could sleep in which was great!
If you have read all of this then well done, book a flight and go to the HOFC in March next year for the next big tornado event..it is by a country mile the best table out there for developing your game/skills and has the highest level of competition.