Gladiators advance as finals action commences

SHOT: Darren Atkins and Isaac Telfer get down to business as Dodgers eliminated Panthers in a close A grade contest. Photo: Supplied

SHOT: Darren Atkins and Isaac Telfer get down to business as Dodgers eliminated Panthers in a close A grade contest. Photo: Supplied

PORT LINCOLN TABLE TENNIS

A Grade

Preliminary final: Gladiators 8 (29) def Tigers 4 (18)

Normal service resumed with the flag favourites doing what they have done all year.

Gladiators won three of the first four singles, with Tigers player Shane Stockham the sole winner for his side in the first round as he beat Adam Butterworth.

The doubles were split in the reverse format and the singles were also level at 2-2.

Gladiators player Russell Fordham finally took his first set in competition over Stockham, jumping him early to take the first and then coming close to taking the fourth, ultimately going down in a cracker, 6-11, 11-4, 11-5, 12-10.

Tigers were still alive at 4-6 down, but needed to pull a rabbit out of a hat to get the next two doubles and it proved a bridge too far.

Gladiators won both to move into the grand final.

The best for Gladiators was club legend Joe Perone with four wins, as Stockham claimed three for the Tigers.

Knockout final: Dodgers 7 (25) def Panthers 5 (23)

Dodgers player Vicki Mundy came into the contest under an injury cloud and did not help herself much by playing 17 of a possible 20 sets, however it was in the last doubles that she absolutely held her own.

In the only game that she won, Mundy proved to be the difference in a live rubber, teaming up with Darren Atkins to defeat solid pairing of Dan Challinger and Isaac Telfer 11-8, 7-11, 11-8, 14-12.

Atkins and Slavko Kolega got out to a two-sets lead over Challinger and Luke McLachlan, only for the latter to come back and create match points in the fifth before losing 14-12, 11-8, 4-11, 4-11, 12-10.

Panthers were winning the tie 5-3, meaning Atkins had to dig deep to get his team back on track, and he did that by playing a controlled game to beat Challinger, who had no answers in an 11-4, 11-6, 8-11, 11-8 result.

It came down to the last doubles to determine who would advance, as Dodgers' Kolega and Brenton Stagg came from two sets down and 5-9 in the fifth to somehow claw their way to a victory.

Panthers pair Tim Palmer and McLachlan had everything pointing towards a win, making the score a countback on points, but it was not necessary as the Dodgers pairing won the last six points to win 13-15, 9-11, 11-7, 11-7, 11-9.

Dodgers will face Tigers, who have the double chance.

B GRADE

Preliminary final: Panthers 7 (25) def Tigers 5 (21)

CONTEST: Matt Beckman and Lance Barnett do battle during the B grade finals. Photo: Supplied

CONTEST: Matt Beckman and Lance Barnett do battle during the B grade finals. Photo: Supplied

In a massive game to move straight through to the big dance, Panthers got home as champion sides do, but not without a battle against a determined Tigers team.

Tigers player Matt Beckman got the team off to a cracking start by beating Panthers number one Lance Barnett in a belter, winning 11-9, 9-11, 12-10, 13-11.

John Theakstone played out of his skin to sneak home against Beckman in the reverse singles, winning 8-11, 11-5, 11-5, 2-11, 11-7.

The best for Panthers were Theakstone and Jack Barnett with three wins, as Tigers' Troy Weetra also picked up a trio of victories.

Knockout final: Gladiators 4 (17) lost to Lions 8 (26)

SERVE: Evan Siviour receives a serve from Bill Broughton in the B grade. Photo: Supplied

SERVE: Evan Siviour receives a serve from Bill Broughton in the B grade. Photo: Supplied

Fourth-placed Lions move into the second week of the finals after taking hold a Gladiators side which looked strong across the board on paper.

Matches were even across the first two rounds, going 3-3 leading into the second singles.

From there Lions never looked back, winning five of the next six to meet a strong Tigers side.

Gladiators' stalwart Bill Broughton played an absolute classic to overcome a determined Evan Siviour, winning in five tight sets and saving many match points, as it ended 10-12, 6-11, 11-8, 13-11, 12-10.

Lions' James Siviour and Noah Beckmann teamed up in the doubles to beat Wayne Heidenreich and Kynan Vidovich in five long and vocal sets, 4-11, 11-2, 5-11, 11-6, 11-7.

The best for Gladiators was Vidovich with two wins, as Lions pair Peter Lee and James Siviour won all four.

Panthers move into the grand final and await the winner of Tigers against Lions.