The race to be crowned the 2014-2015 Premier Division champions in the Kettering and District Table Tennis League continues to be an intriguing battle with Burton Baptist A and Westfield A level on points at the top of the table, whilst Higham sit in third place just five points further back. Although Baptists A and Westfield A are equal on points it is the Burton Latimer based team that have the honour of leading the table having won all six of their matches so far this season. Westfield A had won their first five matches to continue a winning run stretching back to the 2011-2012 season but in their latest fixture that proud record was brought to an end as they were held to a 5-5 draw in a fascinating encounter with fourth placed Corby Town A.
Roumen Stefanov was unavailable for Westfield so their team was weakened ever so slightly but in Nicole Bird they had a worthy replacement. Kevin Bird gave Westfield the lead with a 3-1 win over Henry Arthur but it was in the next game that the match really took off. Chris Haynes led Steve Silk 2-0 and had a match point in the third end only for Silk to demonstrate the kind of fighting spirit you would expect from the league’s number one ranked player as he fought back from the brink to defeat Haynes 3-2. Corby then won their first point as Lee O’Boyle defeated Nicole Bird 3-1.
Kevin Bird then played an almost faultless match to eclipse Haynes 3-0 to put his team 3-1 ahead. Next up was Arthur against Miss Bird and young Westfield player stormed into a 2-0 lead before faltering and allowing Arthur to turn the match around and claim a 3-2 comeback victory.
Silk returned to the table and moved Westfield 4-2 ahead with a 3-1 win over O’Boyle and another victory for Westfield looked on the cards.
The final four matches all went to a fifth end, the first of which saw Haynes recover from 2-1 down to defeat Miss Bird 3-2. Mr. Bird completed a fantastic hat-trick with a 3-2 win over O’Boyle as Westfield again opened up a two point lead.
The ninth match of the evening was another nail biter. Arthur, just like Haynes earlier in the evening, opened up a 2-0 lead over Silk. Silk clung on by taking the third end 14-12 and looked to have turned things in his favour when he took the fourth end 11-6. The final end was nip and tuck and went all the way to deuce before Arthur ultimately claimed an unexpected victory, clinching the win 15-13 and leaving the match delicately poised with just the doubles to play. This was another five end classic but it was the Corby pair of Haynes/O’ Boyle who edged it 12-10 in the decider to secure a 5-5 draw and also end Westfield A’s seasonal unbeaten doubles record.
Burton Baptist A took full advantage of their rival’s failure to win with a 10-0 success over Burton Baptist B. The A team were ruthless in their demolition of their club colleagues, dropping just two ends all evening. Dawid Przybysz extended his unbeaten run to 18 games with Alex Aston and Chris Ross also securing trebles.
Corby Town B hosted third placed Higham and had the “privilege” of playing against the County number one and Northants champion Andy Trott who was making his first appearance of the season. Trott secured a quickfire treble and Richard Elliot dropped just one end as he matched his team-mate. Higham were denied the 10-0 whitewash with Andy Harrison losing out in straight games to Henry Arthur.
Westfield B’s squad have been hit hard by injuries with Brian Wooding and Steve Hobbs both ruled out. Fortunately for them, they have added a new player to their ranks in the shape of Spaniard Antonio Jaraices. Making his debut against Arthingworth he won twice but had to work hard for both wins, coming from 2-0 down to both Gerald Henson and Ray Kingston to claim victories. Chris Gibbons was too consistent for Jaraices but team-mate Dan Smalley found his beat form to score an excellent treble before teaming up with Jaraices to take the double and claim a 6-4 win for Westfield B.
Harborough Athletic boosted their survival chances with a credible 5-5 draw with Westfield C. Nathan Thompson was their star man with a superb hat-trick. Twice he came back from 2-0 down to claim the win and he completed a hat-trick of five end successes seeing off Carl Leeson 13-11, after beating Sam Wildman 11-9 and Matt Horrocks 11-9 at the same stage. Earlier in the evening, Barry Thompson gained a 3-0 win over Horrocks and the Thompson’s teamed up to claim the doubles win for an important draw.
Struggling Thrapston Eagles fell to a fifth defeat of the season as they went down 10-0 to Kettering Town A. Nigel Metcalfe, John Fuller and Mike Hawes all recorded trebles with Fuller and Metcalfe adding the doubles for good measure.
Corby Town A 5 (Arthur 2, Haynes, O’Boyle, Haynes/O’Boyle) Westfield A 5 (K Bird 3, Silk 2)
Burton Baptist B 0 Burton Baptist A 10 (Przybysz 3, Aston 3, Ross 3, Aston/Ross)
Corby Town B 1 (Arthur) Higham 9 (Trott 3, Elliott 3, Harrison 2, Trott/Elliott)
Westfield B 6 (Smalley 3, Jaraices 2, Smalley/Jaraices) Arthingworth 4 (Gibbons 2, Henson, Kingston)
Westfield C 5 (Leeson 2, Wildman 2, Horrocks) Harborough Athletic 5 (N Thompson 3, B Thompson, Thompson/Thompson)
Kettering Town A 10 (Metcalfe 3, Fuller 3, Hawes 3, Metcalfe/Fuller) Thrapston Eagles 0
Player of the week: Nathan Thompson
Going into last week there was very little to choose between the top four teams in the division, therefore whichover of those four had the best week would gain a slight advantage over the other three. That team was Thrapston Kites who are now in pole position having won all 5 of their matches and are the only unbeaten team.
Kites took on Thrapston Falcons in their local Derby and with only 1 point between the two both from 5 matches and only a few points below the leaders with a game in hand it was a crucial fixture for both teams chances of promotion and the title. Kites Peter Briggs and Stewart Williams now have a combined singles average of 90% this season and both continued their good starts to the season with impressive trebles with Geoff Judd picking up the other important point to make it 7-3 coming from 2-0 down to beat Alan Tyler with two 12-10's followed by a fifth end 11-9. Falcons 3 points were earned by Nigel Payne and Ian Baldock who both beat Judd then paired up to win a 5 end doubles over Willams and Briggs. Tyler and Payne were suffering from colds though I don't know what Baldock's excuse is.
Rothborough Arrows were top of the table before this round of fixtures and therefore needed a victory and preferably by a large margin over mid table Corby C to maintain their good position. However two things made this unlikely to be a one sided match. Firstly Arrows were missing their star player Julian Marlow and secondly the highly ranked Rob Warrender was playing only his second match for Corby C. This put more pressure on the dependable Helen Watts to put in a winning performance. She had to do it the hard way against Stephen Woolston coming from 2-0 behind then 7-1 behind in the fifth end to win 11-8, followed by 3-0 wins over Warrender and McLaran featuring a marathon 18-16 first leg against Warrender. Ivor Jones and Luke Saywood got one win each against Keith McLaren and Saywood's was another close 5 end win 11-9 and one of three 5 end sets in the match which all crucially went to Arrows meaning only a few points between victory and defeat, the third of which was in the doubles, Jones and Watts getting a crucial sixth point against Warrender and Woolston.
Promotion contenders Harborough Rangers would have hoped for 10-0 against wooden spoon favourites Thrapston Harriers but without the usual Steve Crook, Samual Burgess took his place and accounted for Keith Stockley easily 3-0 and a close 3-1 over Mike Burrows but could only manage 4,8 and 4 against Alan Tyler who was again playing 2 matches in 2 days for 2 Thrapston teams. Both Liam Burnham and Mike Brocklebank got trebles though Stockley took Brocklebank to 5 then the pair won the doubles to make it 9-1.
A 6-4 win looked about par for mid table Burton Baptist C to beat slightly lower mid tabled Baptist D. Kelvin Marshall was the surprise man of the match for the D team with the only treble of the match. His team mate Steve Smith is not a great lover of long pimples and so not surprisingly didn't manage to win a leg against either Paul Goodman or Daryl Sutcliffe but conversely had a convincing 3-0 win over the more conventional Chris Agg who had one win over Brett Owen. Goodman and Sutcliffe both contributed 2 singles wins before pairing up to win the doubles and the match 6-4.
With Harborough Rovers not having a match, Harborough Diamonds would have hoped to make up more ground on them in the table to avoid relegation. However a 9-1 defeat to Westfield D means that they only reduced their deficit to Rovers from 5 points to 4 points. Diamonds would have settled for 3 points which wasn't far away but lost 2 sets 11-9 in the fifth and the doubles 11-5 in the fifth. Paul Malpass and Scott Dixon both got trebles for Westfield and a brace by Chris Alder who lost the other one to Vaughan Allington.
Thrapston Falcons 3 (Baldock, Payne, Baldock/Payne) Thrapston Kites 7 (Briggs 3, Williams 3, Judd)
Rothborough Arrows 6 (Watts 3, Jones, Saywood, Jones/Watts) Corby C 4 (Warrender 2, Woolston 2)
Harborough Rangers 9 (Burnham 3, Brocklebank 3, S.Burgess 2, Burnham/Brocklebank) Thrapston Harriers 1 (Tyler)
Burton Baptist C 6 (Goodman 2, Sutcliffe 2, Agg, Goodman/Sutcliffe) Burton Baptist D 4 (Marshall 3, Smith)
Westfield D 9 (Malpass 3, Dixon 3, Alder 2, Dixon/Malpass) Harborough Diamonds 1 (Allington)
Player of the week: Kelvin Marshall
Comets anticipated match against Dakotas was more one-sided than predicted with a 9-1 win taking Comets above their opponents and level at the top. Three of the first four games went the distance suggesting a tight result but they all went the way of Comets and set the pattern for the night. David Steele’s early return from injury was fortunate as his defeat of Kelvin Linnett was Dakotas only success. Alan Brisley and Pete Sturges were unbeaten in singles and doubles but both needed five ends to beat Steele.
It was déjà vu for Burton when they met Buccaneers and were soundly beaten as they were the previous week by Comets. It means Buccaneers share top spot with one more week of the first third of the season to go. Closest to gaining an end was Jacob Tattersall with a 11-13 loss against Luke Saywood in the second end, but Saywood, Tom Ravenscroft and Ray Harrison were otherwise untroubled. Harrison, Ravenscroft and the now injured Sean Smith remain the only players with 100% records in the division.
A good home win for Kettering B as they leapfrog opponents Exocets with a 7-3 victory shared between all the players, where interestingly the three games that went the distance were the only ones that the away team won, yet the 8 ends that went beyond deuce were all won by the home team. Various players upset the rankings; Helmut Salander – the only player on show yet to have a blank week –had a brace including a defeat of Jim Chatburn; Pete Scrivener then beat Salander and Ann Woolston’s good form continued with victory over Tony Yeomans in her brace.
Matt Billington’s return for Corby D – albeit only for a week – clearly inspired them as they allowed Imps only one game all night for their biggest win yet and leaving the Harborough outfit as the only team without a victory this season. Billington got two, Dan Bottrill and Nathan Brown got maximums, Brown in particular showing fighting spirit winning two in five, one of which finished 14-12 then 16-14 and beating two players above him in the rankings in the proicess.
Kettering B 7 (Chatburn 2, Scrivener 2, An Woolston 2, Chatburn/Scrivener) Rothborough Exocets 3 (Salander 2, Yeomans)
Harborough Imps 1 (Palfrey) Corby D 9 (Bottrill 3, Brown 3, Billington 2, Billington/Brown)
Rothborough Buccaneers 10 (Harrison 3, Ravenscroft 3, Saywood 3, Harrison/Ravenscroft) Burton Baptist E 0
Rothborough Comets 9 (Brisley 3, Sturges 3, Linnett 2, Brisley/Sturges) Rothborough Dakotas 1 (Steele)
Player of the week
Team of the week