Whilst Englishmen in Vienna contested (unsuccessfully it has since turned out) for plums of the international table tennis world the Swaythling Cup here, back in Nelson, two foreigners, a Czech and a Hungarian, were taking the plums of the game locally. Last year, Prague-born Zdenek Kabrna flashed into local indoor sports prominence by taking the District Senior title from Nelsons Roy Pickles. This year on Friday at Clifford House Kabrna rubbed it in again with Pickles once more the runner-up. But that was not all. Another Continental, Karoly Polyak, a Hungarian, smashed and finessed his way to the Junior title.
Polyak (his friends call him "Bambi", lives at 5 Westcliffe Walk, Nelson, and is only 17 years old. He left Budapest only nine months ago to start a new life in England. So far the new life has been mostly concerned with enhancing his promise on the T.T. table. And with outstanding success.
Before leaving his native land Polyak reached the last 16 in the Hungarian National Championships. Over here he has been defeated in the final of the Lancs. Junior Open Championship and his future County plans include a crack at the Closed Championship this month and the Cheshire Open in April. Locally, Polyak, who is an apprentice engineer at Haightons Foundry, has featured in Nelsons "B" team, but latterly he has held a continuous claim on inclusion in the "A" side. A brilliant defensive player, he will go far when he masters an attacking stroke which he can really rely on.
On Friday he had little difficulty in accounting for D. Parkinson (St. Johns) in the Junior final. He won two straight games 21/15, 21/19. Like Kabrna, he is a member of St. Georges stronghold whose teams top the local "A" and "B" Divisions.
Event of the evening, of course, was the final for the district singles honours, which as was expected, brought to the table Kabrna and Pickles. Though fast and at times exciting, there was no repetition of last years ding-dong struggle when Kabrna took the title by a narrow margin; this time the Czechs consistency in attack proved too much for his opponent.
He won three straight games 21/11, 21/15, 21/19. With Kabrna hugging the attack, Pickles was thrust against the wall and, though defending brilliantly, was unable to get near enough to produce the "kill" shots. After the Czech had taken the first two games with comparative ease, he held a slender lead in the third game until the 15th point. Pickles then began to gain ground to draw level at 19. But the end came quickly. Kabrna took the next point and then with a net shot, became the district title-holder for a second year. It was felt however, that had Pickles been successful in the third game, the contest would have gone the full distance for at that stage he appeared to have got the measure of his opponent and was countering well.
In the district semi-finals Pickles defeated Les Stevens (Congos) 21/10, 21/13; and Kabrna accounted for Alan Rushton (St. Marys) 21/14. 21/19.
Rushton, though a member of the local League for eight years, has never reached a semi-final before. His success this year he attributes to changing his grip just before Christmas. Twenty two years of age, Rushton lives at 72 Lomeshaye Road, Nelson.
From the spectators point of view, the best contest of the evening was the doubles final in which Kabrna and C. Gildea (St. Georges) went the full distance against Polyak and Pickles to win 21/15, 13/21, 21/19. In the first game Kabs attack proved too strong for the opposing pair resulting in a comparatively easy win. In the second game however, Pickles superior defence dictated and the contestants reached equality with one game each. Then excitement became intense. In the third and final game spectators saw Pickles and Polyak overcome a two points arrears to change round at 109. From there on it was ding dong all the way. A neck and neck dual saw the St. Georges pair in front at 1615, but a brilliant defensive return by Polyak caught them on the wrong foot and the game became 16 all. When Kabrna countered a Pickles kill to leave Polyak helpless, however, the St. Georges pair gained the ascendency to run out winners by two points.