A new season of table tennis in the Eastern Valley League kicked off this week in Cwmbran Stadium with Cwmbran Blues looking to defend their Division One title. However, it was Cwmbran Aztecs who make the running at this early stage following their 27-8 win over Bristol Nomads. All the Aztec players remained undefeated, but, it was Andrew Ryder who took the player of the match award, well supported by team mates Tony Collins and Mark Edmunds. For the Nomads Keith Armstrong fought well for his 5 points.
Cwmbran Blues started their campaign with a 24-8 win over Blaenavon Aces who were handicapped by having only 2 players available. The Blues' David D Lloyd took the player of the match award as he remained unbeaten and was well supported by Mark Farrow and Roger Grech. For the Aces there were impressive wins for Ben Allen over the experienced pair of Farrow and Grech.
After struggling in the league last season it looks at this early stage that Cwmbran Colts could make a challenge this year, particularly if their number one player, Lee Thomas, is available. Thomas, as expected picked up the player of the match award with his maximum points as he led his team to a 23-6 win over YMCA Preachers. There is also encouragement for the Colts in the improved form being shown by the young Pearce brothers, Mathew and Ben, who both recorded 2 wins each over players that were higher ranked last season. There is further scope for optimism as they have still to unleash their super sub, John Spencer. For the Preachers it was a disappointing start, but, once they are up to full strength I am sure they will be competing again.
In Division Two, Cwmbran Panthers were hoping to get off to a fast start in their quest to retain their title from last season. However, an understrength Panthers side went down 21-14 to Cwmbran Fellows for whom Wayne Ford picked up the player of the match award with his 3 wins. Ford was well supported by Haydn Skinner and Mick Mellor, who was returning to the League after an absence of many years. Both Skinner and Mellor picked up excellent wins over the Panthers' Howard Gaut. For the Panthers Mike Blatchford battled well for his 2 wins.
The early pacesetters in Division Two are Cwmbran Dynamos who are hoping to go one better than their last season runner-up position. The Dynamos overcome North Gwent Cougars 27-5 with Will Smith-Haddon picking up the player of the match award with his three wins, without dropping a game. Smith-Haddon was well supported by Alex Jones and Richard Lownsbrough with their 3 wins. It was good to see the return to the Cougars side of David Crooks after a number of years break from the league.
The final match in Division Two saw a close encounter with Cwmbran Eccentrics beating Cwmbran Devils 18-13. Both teams have strengthened this season with John Thomas joining the Eccentrics and Roshan Rai, back from a few years out in University, joining the Devils. However it was Thomas who picked up the player of the match award with his maximum wins. He was well supported by Lincoln Alford with his 2 wins. For the Devils there were 2 wins for Rai.