Table Tennis: Lomas has to battle to take title

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The Independent Online
LISA LOMAS, who helped take England to the final of the European League for the first time last month, regained the English national title by bringing down the champion, Andrea Holt, in the final at King's Lynn yesterday.

It was an encouraging build-up for Lomas's defence of the silver medal position in the European Championships, which begin in 18 days time in Birmingham, though there were moments when it seemed the top seed might not recapture the title.

Holt saved two match points in the second game and led 15-10 in the third before losing 21-17, 21-17, 22- 24, 21-19. It was nevertheless a performance suggesting that the 23- year-old Lancastrian is fitter than earlier in the season and if she can get the balance right between defence and attack she too can be dangerous at the Europeans.

Carl Prean, the men's champion, also lost his title. He looked strangely hesitant and failed to reach the final against the top- seeded Chen Xinhua.

Prean lost 21-15, 15-21, 21-16, 21-17 in the quarter-finals to Nicky Mason. Mason is a former England colleague who now plays only once a week and is quitting the game because he believes his international chances are over at the age of 28. 'I am retiring because there is no chance of playing for England again. But I proved today I am still good enough,' Mason said.

Despite this, Mason lost in straight games in the semi-finals to the Commonwealth silver medallist, Alan Cooke, who was in turn beaten 21-12, 21-13, 18-21, 21-8 in the final by the 34-year-old Chen.

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