There is a new District Table Tennis Singles Champion. The name Zdenek Kabrna, a native of Prague, who came to this country 18 months ago to learn weaving. Kabrna beat Roy Pickles, the reigning champion, in a final which will be a topic of conversation long after other finals have been forgotten. It was a real battle of giants, a thriller, and very often touched County class.
Neither player had difficulty in the semi-final stages. Kabrna devoured E. Webb (who did not produce top form) 21-5, 21-8. Pickles similarly dealt with C. Gildea 21-13, 21-8.
Then came the final. It had everything. It was great. And many considered it to reach a much higher standard of play than in the Manchester match of 1948.
From the very beginning both players chose attack as the the best means of defence. Attack, counter-attack, speed, timing, spin, placing, precision it was all there. The length of the rallies increased as the game progressed.
Pickles took the first game 21-18.
Kabrna quickly went into action in the secon and forced his opponent back from the table. Kabrna attacked brilliantly, Pickles defended brilliantly. Five, six, seven, eight, nine heavily-chopped returns went back to Kabrna time and again; then Pickles returned to the attack, but Kabrna countered and emerged the game victor by 21-15. One all.
In the third game Kabrnas fierce attack forced Pickles to defensive measures. And what a defence! He made the crowd gasp by retrieving drives and smashes from all angles. But he lost 16-21 and Kabrna had taken the lead.
|Pickles then set about the fourth game; attempted to attack, but was again driven from the table by the Czechs superb accuracy. Kabrna led 15-11; then faltered, and Pickles produced a terrific rally, drew level at 15 all, and went on to win 21-17.
Came the final, decisive gameit was breathtaking. Brilliant attack, almost perfect defence, uncanny anticipation, dazzling footwork. Who would crack first? Both players obviously feeling the strain, opened quietly, but Kabrna if anybody, forced the pace and led 10-7 when they changed ends. Pickles made a great effort, but failedand to great applause, Kabrna took the title 21-12.
This was on the part of both players, superb table tennis. Pickles was the first to congratulate his conqueror.
Kabrna, 25 year old, was one time the Czechoslovakian junior champion for three years in succession. In 1938 he defeated Jack Carrington in the Czech championship, and the same year reached the semi-final of the Austrian championship before being knocked out by Richard Bergman, the present World Champion. When he arrived in England he had been out of the game for four years, but he resumed last October when he joined the James Nelsons team. Next year he intends to go for bigger championships.