Guernsey Press

Le Tocq's on top after a tough six months

PAUL LE TOCQ has achieved the special feat of winning national titles in two different countries.


Following a period of personal hardship, Le Tocq was rewarded for his persistence with men’s doubles gold and singles silver at the Masters English National Championships in Hatfield.

‘I think I will be one of the only sportsmen on the island to have won national titles in different countries,’ the former Welsh champion said.

‘I won the Welsh national singles and mixed doubles titles in the early 2000s when playing full-time, and have now added the English national title in men’s doubles, so have the full suite of events.’

But Le Tocq admitted that the build-up had been ‘a tough six months or so’.

His contentious exclusion from the Guernsey team before the home Island Games was just the start of it.

‘Following being omitted from the Island Games, I have unfortunately suffered a collapse and epileptic event and seizure in late August, which is still being investigated for possible causes, and I have more off-island tests after Christmas for this,’ he added.

‘More recently, a few weeks back, my mother passed away – and as my biggest supporter for many years I would love to have been able to show her the winning medal from this weekend – so very mixed emotions all round.’

The win has also secured him potentially his first England cap, for he has been selected to play against Scotland in the McCoig trophy match in early March.

He also has the All England and European Masters lined up.

Although the Guernsey star is only just an over-40, his partner, Nick Ponting, was 57 and playing down the age groups.

Ponting was well-equipped to do so. The former professional once topped the mixed doubles rankings and has won All England – likened to badminton’s Wimbledon – gold and world bronze in the category, together with two Olympic outings.

‘Just to be asked to partner Nick was a bit of an honour to be honest, and we’ve never played together before, so we were a scratch pairing.

‘It makes a slightly difficult dynamic in playing with him for the first time – I almost felt like if we lost it could only be my fault, as he’s such a legend.’

Thankfully, even several previous champions could not stop them.

Against former winners Paul Freeman and Phil Troke in the semi-final, the duo controlled the match to triumph 21-9, 21-9.

The final came against the White brothers, James and Simon, from Leicestershire.

The brothers are reigning champions and have played together virtually their whole life.

After losing the first game 21-17, the eventual champions turned the match around using Ponting’s expert reading of the sport.

Despite some very hard-fought rallies, they won 21-14, 21-10 to take the title.

Le Tocq, through his own assessment, did not play well at all in the singles.

‘The shuttles and hall were playing very slow, which essentially means winners are difficult to hit and the rallies become very long and drawn out, which is physically demanding.’

But he still made the final against Staffordshire’s Andrew Aspinall and gave him a close match in a 57min. epic.

Full-time coach Aspinall, a good friend of Le Tocq’s, had eliminated the top seed in the groups and is a steady rally player well-suited to the conditions.

It proved a very long and physically difficult battle. Le Tocq edged the first game 23-21 but then agonisingly lost the second 24-22 after holding match point, before going down 21-15 in the decider.

‘I was never truly comfortable with my game on the day and never conquered the conditions, so I didn’t really have any complaints.’

He had earlier quipped on social media: ‘Third final in a row I’ve had match points and lost, so if there’s any sports psychologists out there looking for a case study on how not to get over the winning line, I’m available for a price.’