by Simon Daish
England occupied the top three steps of the Mixed Doubles podium at Glasgow 2014, with Paul Drinkhall and Joanna Drinkhall, formerly known as Joanna Parker, claiming the gold medal with a victory over Tin-Tin Ho and Liam Pitchford.
The Drinkhalls once again faced Tin-Tin Ho in the Mixed Doubles final at the 2017 English Championships- she was partnering Sam Walker for the competition. Sam Walker was nominated for the Star Point Award last year for his outstanding rally against Japan’s Yuya Oshima at the Perfect 2016 World Team Championships, but despite impressing throughout the earlier stages of the English Championships it was not to be for Sam Walker and Tin-Tin Ho as Paul and Joanna Drinkhall stormed to a straight games victory to lift the trophy (12-10, 14-12, 11-6).
Paul Drinkhall went on to enjoy even more success on the final day of the event as he added both the Men’s Doubles and Men’s Singles awards to his collection.
In virtually a repeat outcome of the previous year’s Men’s Doubles competition Paul Drinkhall and Liam Pitchford prevailed over the pairing of Mike O’Driscoll and Chris Doran (11-6, 14-12, 12-10), while Paul Drinkhall picked up his second win of the day over Sam Walker as he stood victorious in the Men’s Singles final across six games (9-11, 11-6, 9-11, 11-7, 11-7, 11-8).
Drinkhall has now won the title for the sixth occasion and moves into joint second position on the all-time winners list alongside Denis Neale and Alan Cooke.
“Obviously it’s great to win another national title but I don’t really think about the all-time list because you can’t really compare eras. I didn’t feel I was playing as well as last year and sometimes I had to remind myself to enjoy it”, Paul Drinkhall.
Another case of déjà vu came in the Women’s Singles tournament as Tin-Tin Ho once again came out on top against Kelly Sibley, having done so in dramatic style last year at the 2016 English Championships.
Kelly Sibley had game point opportunities in games one and three, and with her capture of the second game she could have found herself 0-3 up in the final. The English no.1, however, couldn’t capitalise on her chances in the first and third games and as a result Tin-Tin Ho moved 2-1 ahead. The following two ends went in Tin-Tin Ho’s favour as the 18-year-old went on to claim her second title in the category (12-10, 6-11, 12-10, 11-5, 11-4).
“The final was really tough so it was very good for me to win that. I’ve been working a lot on my mentality, so it’s good to see that it’s paying off, helping me to build confidence for future matches”, Tin-Tin Ho.
The other final to take place on the concluding day in Nottingham was the Women’s Doubles finale as Kelly Sibley and Joanna Drinkhall went face-to-face with Tin-Tin Ho and Maria Tsaptsinos.
While Kelly Sibley and Joanna Drinkhall pushed the defending champions close in each of the games, the trophy would stay with Tin-Tin Ho and Maria Tsaptsinos as they won the tie in straight games (11-6, 11-9, 11-8).