Matthew Abela retains the Men’s Singles title at the Malta National Championships for the eighth time and Francesca Clark wins her third Triple Crown of her career after winning the Women’s Singles, Doubles, and Mixed Doubles. Overall, a Championship that has shown once more the beautiful game with high adrenaline, hard-fought rallies, games, and matches.
In the men’s singles final, Matthew Abela started strong in an overall quiet first game. Although Sam Cassar had the initial advantage Matthew managed to overturn the score to win the first game 21-13. In the second game, Matthew continued where he left off in the first game and opened an 11-6 advantage till the interval. After the interval, Sam managed to close the gap and chased Matthew up till 9-11. Matthew kept a 5-point lead to 16-11 with Sam trying to push hard despite a back strain but Matthew won the second game 21-15 to keep the title for the eighth year. A healthy competition between two players who are very active in the International scene and who are pushing each other to reach higher levels.
In the women’s singles, Francesca won the first game in a very close and well-fought opening. It was a neck-to-neck encounter and Francesca won the first game 21-16. In the second game, Francesca took the lead 11-7 to the interval but Lauren kept pushing to get close 9-12 to Francesca. Lauren managed to retain the distance to Francesca but Clark then opened a good lead 19-13 and went on to win the match 21-16 , 21-14.
In the men’s doubles final. Matthew Abela and Matthew Galea faced Nigel De Gaetano and Isaac Ellul. It was a point to point for both sides in the first game with the run to the first interval won by Matthew Abela and Matthew Galea 11-10. The first game continued to be a close deal with the score reading 20-20 at the end of the first game but the two Matthews got the upper hand at the end of the first game and won 22-20. The second game started as a copy of the first one in its start but Matthew Galea and Matthew Abela had a good run up to the interval and opened a 6 point gap to the score of 11-5. Abela and Galea continued to keep the same advantage and even opened it further to 16-8 and continued to win the second game and the match 22-20, 21-12.
The women’s doubles final turned out to be a spectacle for all those present who watched 4-players fighting for each rally and for each point. We can safely say that Francesca Clark, Michaela Ellul, Elenia Haber and Lauren Azzopardi offered all present a match to remember. Clark and Ellul managed to clear the first game 21-18 but then lost the second game 17-21 to offer a thriller 3rd game in which Francesca and Michaela managed to have an edge on Lauren and Elenia and win 21-18 to clinch the gold.
The fast rhythm and the close scores went on to the last final of the tournament. In the Mixed Doubles final, contented between Sam Cassar and Francesca Clark against Matthew Abela and Elenia Haber, we saw the scoreline literally incrementing on each side until Cassar and Clark opened a small advantage to 11-8. Abela and Haber fought back after the interval and closed the gap immediately to 11-11 and surpass their opponents to 13-11. The first game continued to develop into a thriller up to 20 all. The pressure skyrocketed and led to a couple of mistakes from both sides and an extra couple of superb rallies but finally Matthew and Elenia closed off the game in an extreme 30-28 score. The second game was set to play to a different tune where Sam and Francesca opened an early lead but Matthew and Elenia bounced back and closed the gap at 7-11 to the interval. Cassar and Clark opened a 6-point lead and kept on strong to win the second game 21-13. In the third and final game, Sam and Francesca continued where they left off in the second game and opened with a great 6-point run to 6-0 and then kept widening the lead to 11-2 at the interval. After that, the third game turned out to be a one-sided game where Clark and Cassar kept pushing their opponents and kept leading and widening the gap to win the third and final match 21-5.
Another competition that helped our athletes increase their experience at high-level competitions to complement their participation in an international setting. At the same time, younger athletes were given the opportunity to grow and develop to continue gradually increasing their level of play.