The Premier Division of the Kettering and District Table Tennis League may only be three weeks old but is already becoming obvious that there will be an intriguing four way battle to avoid relegation from the elite division with Corby Town B, Burton Baptist B, Harborough Athletic and Thrapston Eagles all finding themselves in the basement battle. The four teams have only a solitary win between them this season and that was when the Corby team defeated the Burton team 6-4. This week's round of fixtures saw the four teams manage just one point between them and undoubtedly it will be the matches against each other that will ultimately decide the destiny of these four sides.
Burton Baptist B were the team that clinched the single point this time during their 9-1 defeat at Westfield B. They found themselves 8-0 down before Jacek Koltuniuk recorded a fine 3-0 win over Matthew Rushton. Koltuniuk had also gone close in the second singles of the night before going down 13-11 in the fifth end to Carl Leeson. Leeson went on to complete his first hat-trick of the season and with Nicole Bird also hitting a hat-trick, Westfield B duly scored their first win of the season.
Thrapston Eagles have had it very tough following their promotion last season, but the fixture list has not helped them. Three matches in and they have had to play the three teams who will be fighting to be champions at the end of the season. After suffering successive 10-0 defeats to last season's champions Westfield A, and runners-up Higham, this week saw them face the third of the "Big 3" when they squared up to Burton Baptist A. Mark Stockley looks to be Eagle's best chance of surviving the relegation scrap and he came closest to preventing a third straight 10-0 loss when he went down 11-3 in the decider to Dariusz Gulbicki. Burton dropped just two further ends on the night as they moved to the summit of the league table with Gulbicki, Alex Aston and Dawid Przybysz all scoring trebles.
Harborough Athletic had chances to avoid their own whitewash in their match with Arthingworth but ultimately fell to a 10-0 defeat. Liam Burnham led Andy Wood 2-1 in the fifth singles of the night before the Arthingworth player battled through to win in five ends. Wood was further challenged in the ninth singles which saw young James Allington come back from 2-0 down to tie the rubber before ultimately losing by the narrowest of margins. Wood claiming the victory 11-6, 11-6, 11-13, 10-12, 15-13 as he joined Gerald Henson and Chris Gibbons on the treble trail.
Corby Town B were up against their club colleagues Corby Town A but found their club mates were not in a charitable mood. The A team dropped just four ends on the way to a 10-0 win with Chris Haynes and Lee O'Boyle continuing their unbeaten start to the season and Henry Arthur hitting his first treble. This match saw the importance of closing games out with the more experienced A team players winning 10 of the 11 ends that required a deuce.
Away from the relegation battle, the big match of the week saw Kettering Town A inflict a first defeat of the season on Higham. John Fuller was the hero for Kettering with a magnificent straight games treble which included the scalp of the previously unbeaten Richard Elliott. Elliott was in for a long night with Nigel Metcalfe and Mike Hawes both taking him to fifth end deciders but Elliott hung on to win both, including recovering from a 2-0 deficit to Hawes. Metcalfe had some measure of revenge when he recovered from 2-0 down to Andy Harrison to take the win to add to his earlier success over Richard Bashford, who suffered a rare blank night. Fuller's treble, the two wins from Metcalfe and a single from Hawes gave Kettering the win with Elliott (2), Harrison and an Elliott/Bashford doubles win ensuring it was only by the narrowest of margins.
Westfield A continue to show that they are in no mood to relinquish their title and Westfield C were the latest team to fall to a heavy defeat against the team of Kevin Bird, Steve Silk and Roumen Stefanov. In the closest match of the night, Bird recovered from 2-1 down to defeat Matt Horrocks but it was Dan Smalley who provided Westfield C with their solitary success with a fine victory over Roumen Stefanov. This provided some small reward for Smalley's and Horrocks' excellent play on the night and also ended Stefanov's seasonal unbeaten tag.
Westfield B 9 (Leeson 3, N Bird 3, Rushton 2, Bird/Rushton) Burton Baptist B 1 (Koltuniuk)
Burton Baptist A 10 (Gulbicki 3, Przybysz 3, Aston 3, Gulbicki/Przybysz) Thrapston Eagles 0
Arthingworth 10 (Wood 3, Henson 3, Gibbons 3, Henson/Gibbons) Harborough Athletic 0
Corby Town A 10 (Arthur 3, Haynes 3, O'Boyle 3, Arthur/Haynes) Corby Town B 0
Higham 4 (Elliott 2, Harrison, Bashford/Elliott) Kettering Town A 6 (Fuller 3, Metcalfe 2, Hawes)
Westfield A 9 (K Bird 3, Silk 3, Stefanov 2, Bird/Stefanov) Westfield C 1 (Smalley)
Player of the week: John Fuller
Harborough Rovers have made a bad start to all 3 of their matches so far but in the first two of these they made impressive comebacks later in the matches.In week 1 they recovered from 7-0 to 7-3 then in a match late carded from week 2 they lost their first 4 sets then this time Jamie Burgess was the one to start the comeback winning 3-1 against Keith McLaren followed by straight sets wins by Mark Pearson and Jamie Burgess over Stewart Abraham and Stephen Woolston respectively. Sam Burgess then got the better of Abraham in 5 sets before Pearson secured at least a draw with a straight sets win(though all close games) over McLaren. McLaren and Woolston then halted the comeback in the doubles against Pearson and Jamie just in time to secure the draw.
It is common for the placings in the league table to change often in the early weeks of the season especially when there are several teams of similar strength. Harborough Rangers became the third table toppers in three weeks after an impressive 9-1 victory over their club neighbours Rovers puts them on 21 points from 3 matches, 1 point ahead of Rothborough Arrows, although Thrapston Kites on 16 and Thrapston Falcons on 15 both have a match in hand. Rovers were not able to stage a comeback this time. At 7-0 down Mark Pearson just edged out Steve Crook in 5 ends after winning the last two 11-9 but that was that was the only point they got with Mike Brocklebank and Liam Burnham both recording trebles, Burnham without losing a leg and Brocklebank just one to Mark Pearson. Burnham was the only player in week 3 in Division 1 to win every leg in singles and doubles.
Rothborough Arrows’ Julian Marlow continued his excellent start to the season with a third consecutive treble and made it two out of three matches without conceding a leg. He was particularly stingy this time against Burton C winning 6 of his 9 legs by conceding 5 points or less. Helen Watts also scored a treble though nowhere near as easily. Chris Agg got the closest to beating her just missing out 11-9 in the 5th leg while Paul Goodman and David Simmons both lost 3 close legs. Ivor Jones didn’t manage to add to Arrows score this time despite going to deciding legs against Goodman and Simmons. Jones and Marlow then added the doubles in 5 ends to score a useful 7 points in the match.
Another player to win all his singles sets 3-0 in legs was Paul Malpass for Westfield D against bottom team Thrapston Harriers. Nitin Patal made it two trebles out of two for the lost of two legs, one each to Alan Tyler and Keith Stockley. Chris Alder scored the other two points in his teams first win of the season just losing to Alan Tyler in four legs. Tyler then helped Mike Burrows double his teams points to two points in the doubles against Patel and Goodman.
For Thrapson Kites Peter Briggs and Stewart Williams both recorded fairly comfortable trebles against Burton D for the loss of one leg each although Kelvin Marshall did manage to win his first leg 11-3 against Briggs. The Burton trio of Steve Smith, Brett Owen and Marshall scored their teams 3 points by each beating Geoff Judd though Smith had to come from 0-2 behind against Judd then Williams and Briggs combined to win the doubles 3-1 against Smith and Marshall to earn a good 7-3 victory.
Corby C 5 (Woolston 2, McLaren, Abraham, McLaren/Woolston) Harborough Rovers 5 (Pearson 2, Jamie Burgess 2, Sam Burgess)
Harborough Rangers 9 (Burnham 3, Brocklebank 3, Crook 2, Burnham/Crook) Harborough Rovers 1 (Pearson)
Rothborough Arrows 7 (Marlow 3, Watts 3, Marlow/Watts) Burton Baptist C 3 (Goodman,Agg,Simmons)
Thrapston Harriors 2 (Tyler, Tyler/Burrows) Westfield D 8 (Patel 3, Malpas 3, Alder 2)
Burton Baptist D 3 (Smith,Owen,Marshall) Thrapston Kites 7 (Briggs 3, Williams 3, Briggs/Williams)
Player of the week: Liam Burnham
There were some closer matches this week including the first draw of the season between Buccaneers and Comets, which sees them locked on identical points in second place in the early season table. More than half of Buccaneers points were earned by the impressive Ray Harrison and his defeat of Martin Watts was an epic rubber of alternating fortunes and is deserving of player of the week. He was ably supported by Luke Saywood, himself only just beaten by Watts, who was Comets best player on the night and earned some revenge by teaming up with Alan Brisley to overcome Harrison at last in the doubles with Saywood.
There was a close result at Burton when Corby visited but could only muster 2 players. Despite this they won 4 points with Nathan Brown and Dan Bottrill both getting doubles but couldn’t quite force the draw. Jon Sanders was undefeated on the night and tutored debutant Ben Freeman to the doubles win that secured the victory.
The previous week Corby gained their first win, over Kettering B, when hat-tricks by Dan Bottrill and John Hunt and the doubles together was too much for the experienced team of Ann and Alan Woolston and Pete Scrivener, although Alan Woolston made Hunt come from behind in their last game of the night.
Dakotas were ruthless against Exocets this week with only Lauren Ainsworth failing to register maximum rewards from the night when she succumbed to Helmut Salander, having earlier worked hard to beat Sally Taylor and Anthony Yeomans, both in five. Sean Smith and Cathy Fleming have only dropped one game between them this season and that wasn’t about to change as neither lost an end or even went to deuce.
Imps have made a stuttering start to the season and Town B kept up the pressure with an 8-2 victory at Westfield. Jim Chatburn and Pete Scrivener scored maximum points and are starting to push Town up the table. All of the Imps got starts but weren’t able to convert to victories, which they will need to produce soon.
Burton Baptist E 6 (Sanders 3, Freeman, Loake, Freeman/Sanders) Corby D 4 (Bottrill 2, Brown 2)
Corby D 7 (Bottrill 3, Hunt 3, Bottrill/Hunt) Kettering Town B 3 (Scrivener, Al Woolston, An Woolston)
Kettering Town B 8 (Chatburn 3, Scrivener 3, An Woolston) Harborough Imps 2 (Palfrey, Patmore)
Rothborough Buccaneers 5 (Harrison 3, Saywood 2) Rothborough Comets 5 (Watts 2, Brisley, Linnett, Brisley/Watts)
Rothborough Exocets 1 (Salander) Rothborough Dakotas (Fleming 3, Smith 3, L Ainsworth, Fleming/Smith)
Player of the week
Kettering Town B
Team of the week