Sibley resists Ho fightback to claim fifth national singles title

Kelly Sibley celebrates her fifth national singles title.
Kelly Sibley celebrates her fifth national singles title.

Kelly Sibley hailed a “fantastic” achievement after sealing her fifth national women’s singles title.

The Leamington athlete held off a determined challenge by fellow Commonwealth Games medallist Tin-Tin Ho to capture the title in Redbridge.

Sibley, 26, drew on all her experience and tactical acumen to take the first 14-12 and then added the second 11-3.

However, 16-year-old Londoners Ho bounced back to level.

But Sibley was not to be denied and took the next two to complete a 4-2 victory - 14-12, 11-3, 9-11, 9-11, 11-6, 11-9.

Sibley, who had beaten Natalie Slater and Maria Tsaptsinos without dropping a set to reach the showpiece, said: “It’s obviously fantastic, I’m really, really pleased.

“I always knew it was going to be a tough final, but all the matches were really tough and I knew I had to keep my focus.

“As the number one seed, I’m the one everyone wants to beat, so I had to focus on my own game and keep my head clear.

“If I had lost that last set and it had gone to 3-3, anything can happen.

“I had a 6-2 lead and she played some fantastic points to pull it back, but my experience helped and grit and determination got me to that fifth title, which I’m over the moon with.

“I thought I kept fighting really well and kept a cool head and it’s the outcome I wanted.”

However, Sibley was unable to add the mixed doubles title as she and Commonwealth Games partner Danny Reed were beaten by Ho and Sam Walker, despite leading 5-1 in the second set, having taken the first.

“They’re a good combination and we know we can’t give them cheap points,” said Sibley.

“They had nothing to lose at 1-0 and 5-1 down. Fair play to them, they kept fighting and played really well.

“It shows my experience as well that I can put the mixed doubles behind me and focus on the singles.

“A few years ago, I maybe would have let that affect me.”

More table tennis - page 74