The team performance of the week in Premier Division of the Kettering and District Table Tennis League was to be found at the Weavers Centre as mid table Westfield C recorded an emphatic 8-2 victory over high flying Higham. All three Westfield players put in strong performances but it was Sam Wildman who took the main honours with a superb maximum which included an 11-2 fifth end win over Richard Elliott.
Matt Horrocks and Dan Smalley both provided solid backup for Wildman with two wins apiece with Horrocks and Wildman also teaming up to capture the doubles. Elliott, who by his own high standards, has been struggling for form recently did pick up both points for Higham with straight games wins over Smalley and Horrocks but Andy Harrison and Mark Nannery both recorded blanks as Higham fell adrift in the battle for third place.
The match between second placed Burton Baptist A and fourth placed Kettering Town A was postponed as Kettering could not raise a team so all eyes fell on third placed Corby Town A to see if they could put any pressure on the two teams either side of them. An excellent performance from the Corby trio of Chris Haynes, Lee O’Boyle and Henry Arthur saw them record a 10-0 whitewash at Arthingworth, dropping just four ends all night as they looked to strengthen their grip on third place.
As has been the way of late, the most exciting matches in this division tend to involve the teams fighting relegation with Corby Town B, Harborough Athletic and Burton Baptist B all seemingly taken it turn to gain the upper hand. This week it was Athletic’s turn to be the major winners out of the three relegation candidates as they recorded their first win of the season courtesy of a 6-4 success over bottom markers Thrapston Eagles. The result was even more welcome given that their top two players, Nathan and Barry Thompson, were both unavailable due to work commitments.
Kevin Shield was the man of the match for Athletic, recording his first hat-trick of the season before teaming up with James Allington to clinch the match with a fifth end doubles win over Steve West and Mark Stockley. Allington and Ross Campbell added a single win each with West and Stockley responsible for all four of Eagles’ points.
The 6-4 win for Athletic was enough to move them back out of the relegation zone and ahead of Burton Baptist B who were the latest team that tried and failed to stop the Westfield A juggernaut as it continued it’s relentless journey on the road to the title. The 10-0 win for Westfield was their ninth maximum points haul this season and they now have scored 136 points out of the 150 available to them, leaving them with an astonishing 90.1% win success so far this season. For Burton, this result now means they sit five points from safety.
Corby Town B continue to flirt with relegation but enhanced their prospects of survival even though they succumbed to a 7-3 defeat at Westfield B. Wins for Kyle Murie over Antonio Jaraices and for Aaron Moore over Matthew Rushton gave Corby a 2-1 but they had to wait for the doubles encounter before adding their third point courtesy of Moore and Guy Sparrow.
Nicole Bird was on top form for Westfield with a straight games hat-trick, with Rushton and Jaraices winning two apiece.
Higham 2 (Elliott 2) Westfield C 8 (Wildman 3, Horrocks 2, Smalley 2, Wildman/Horrocks)
Arthingworth 0 Corby Town A 10 (Haynes 3, O’Boyle 3, Arthur 3, Haynes/Arthur)
Harborough Athletic 6 (Shield 3, J Allington, R Campbell) Thrapston Eagles 4 (West 2, Stockley 2)
Westfield A 10 (K Bird 3, Silk 3, Stefanov 3, Bird/Stefanov) Burton Baptist B 0
Westfield B 7 (N Bird 3, Jaraices 2, Rushton 2) Corby Town B 3 (Murie, Moore, Sparrow/Moore)
Player of the week: Sam Wildman
There was little change in the status quo of the table with all of the favourites having big wins over their lower placed opponents.
Harborough Rangers kept their lead albeit Thrapston Kites, Rothborough Arrows and Thrapston Falcons all moved one point closer. The home team Corby C's card was late in the post again but it's understood that Rangers beat them 8-2.
Thrapston Kites still look well placed for promotion though with still a long way to go after getting near maximum points against Harborough Diamonds. Peter Briggs treble never looked in doubt with him not losing an end while Stewart Williams only had to work slightly harder for his going 1-1 with both Vaughan Allington and Dave Coombes before winning the next two ends easily both times. Allington's 11-9 winning decider against Geoff Judd prevented a whitewash for his team.
At the bottom of the table Thrapston Harriers are looking doomed for the wooden spoon with Harborough's Rovers and Diamonds battling it out to avoid the second relegation spot.
A big win was expected by third placed Rothborough Arrows over Rovers who would have hoped to do better than rivals Diamonds 1-9 defeat and how big the margin was, was likely to depend mostly on Ivor Jones as Julian Marlow and the new Kettering tournament mixed doubles champion Helen Watts both cruised to their expected trebles each winning 9 out of 10 ends. Sam Burgess was the only one to get the odd end out of four against each of them but the scores were one sided in most ends. Despite having a 20% lower average Ivor Jones made it two wins out of two against Sam Burgess this season with a 11-8 decider and almost the same against Jamie Burgess with an 11-7 winning decider. Mark Pearson managed to outplay Jones this time with a 3-0 win but captain Marlow thought Jones was playing well enough to risk a change to the usually successful partnership of Marlow and Watts and was proved right when Jones and Watts won 3-0. The single point leaves Rovers still only 3 points ahead of Diamonds having played 3 more matches and with matches running out they will need to score more points soon before Diamonds catch up with their fixtures and overtake them.
Alan Tyler had a busy evening playing playing both Burton teams at different venues. Ironically needing to get away all of his sets went to a fifth and deciding end against Burton Baptist C and despite leading 2-1, 2-1 and 1-0 he was unable to provide the killer blow to get his team Thrapston Harriers off the mark before he left. The evening only got worse for Harriers and other than Marta Honkova winning an end each against Chris Agg, David Simmons and in the doubles with Mike Burrows against Agg and Paul Goodman, it was all one way traffic in favour of the Burton team who had their first 10-0 win of the season.
Having had a breif rest on the A14(not literally) on the way from Islip to Burton Latimer Tyler picked up his paddle again guesting for Thrapston Falcons against the only slightly lower placed Burton Baptist D. He ended up playing a lot of table tennis in the evening having his fourth and fifth five enders but this time was successful in both with 11-8 deciders against Brett Owen and Steve Smith thus showing admirable stamina but succumbing to Derek Muggleton's fast and flat hitting style in four ends. This turned out to be Burton's only win of the evening as Ian Baldock and Antony Marray both cruised to easy trebles and Muggleton was also the only one to win the odd end in four against them in singles although the pair had to recover from 0-2 down in the doubles to beat Muggleton and Smith in five ends with two 11-9's.
Harborough Diamonds 1(Allington) Thrapston Kites 9(Williams 3, Briggs 3, Judd 2, Briggs/Judd)
Rothborough Arrows 9(Marlow 3, Watts 3, Jones 2, Watts/Jones) Harborough Rovers 1(Pearson)
Thrapston Harriers 0 Burton Baptist C 10(Simmons 3, Goodman 3, Agg 3, Goodman/Agg)
Burton Baptist B 1(Muggleton) Thrapston Falcons 9 (Marray 3, Baldock 3, Tyler 2, Marray/Baldock)
Player of the week: Alan Tyler
The points difference between adjacent teams Dakotas and Town B prior to their meeting was a catchable 14, after the match it is an unlikely 22 with 6 weeks left, following Kettering’s 9-1 defeat. Maximums for Pete Rowbotham and Sean Smith, returning after injury, and a double for Lauren Ainsworth gave Town little chance with Pete Scrivener’s recovery from two down to beat Ainsworth being their only relief.
If the game between Comets and Harborough had been played “on paper” the outcome would have been the same. The clean sweep was never in doubt with Watts’ 10th treble in 12 outings, Sturges’ 8th and Linnett’s 4th, coupled with their 14th doubles success in 15 games. It was even more comprehensive than last time as Harborough only got one end as opposed to eight previously. It keeps Comets’ hopes of pipping Buccaneers to the title alive.
That result brings Comets to just 5 behind Buccaneers after the latter defeated Corby D 8-2. Dan Bottrill’s improvement continues to be impressive as his pair for Corby were against Ray Harrison (ranked 9 places higher and with a win percentage of 94.4% prior to this match) and Luke Saywood (ranked 85), the win over Harrison most notable as it was in straight ends. Tom Ravenscroft ensured he was the maximum man when they met in the 8th game, although Bottrill took the first end. Ravenscroft has now a 97% win percentage from 11 matches, only behind Sean Smith (100%) who has played only 6 matches due to injury, and Harrison (92%) slips to 4th in the percentages as Martin Watts (94%) overtook him this week.
Another rapidly improving young player is Burton Baptists Harry Lade with a win percentage of over 50% in his first season after his second treble, this time against Exocets. In the first of the three rounds of fixtures in this second division he won 3/9 of his games, in the second round he won 7/12 and he has started this third round very well with his victories over Sally Taylor, Helmut Salander and Tony Yeomans, all without going the full distance. Dad Bryan chipped in with a victory over Taylor and was unlucky to lose in 5 against Yeomans, but Exocets won the rest to run out 6-4 victors, Salander’s return after 4 weeks timely.
Burton Baptist E 4 (H Lade 3, B Lade) Rothborough Exocets 6 (Salander 2, Taylor 2, Yeomans 2, Salander/Yeomans)
Kettering Town B 1 (Scrivener) Rothborough Dakotas 9 (Rowbotham 3, Smith 3, L Ainsworth 2, L Ainsworth/Smith)
Rothborough Buccaneers 8 (Ravenscroft 3, Harrison 2, Saywood 2, Harrison/Ravenscroft) Corby D 2 (Bottrill 2)
Rothborough Comets 10 (Linnett 3, Sturges 3, Watts 3, Linnett/Sturges) Harborough Imps 0
Player of the week: Dan Bottrill
Kettering and District Table Tennis League Team of the Week: Westfield C