Forum A & B teams edged out by Southampton
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After the results of the trials and with some withdrawals through illness and injury we fielded the following teams, quoted in ranking order and with captains asterisked:
A Todd Stanmore, Joe McKenna-Jones*, Kiarash Shaddel
B Lewis Waddup, Rafe Fleming, Ryan Hambridge*
C Jamie McNeil*, Robbie Greenfield, Bertie Anstis
D Arthur Anstis*, Vicky Coll, Scott Campbell
Three of these are in fact still cadets: Todd, just turned 12, happily carried the burden of being our top-ranked player; Robbie is 14 and Bertie is 13.
It was the first time ever that we had been allocated to the Waterside Club in Totton, Southampton for NJL, competing against Southampton, Winchester, Weymouth, Basingstoke and Generation 2. There were just 12 teams with two divisions. All matches were allocated two tables. There were four organisers and the match sheets for each match were printed out with all the players’ names and TTE membership numbers. The list of all the day’s matches in order was projected onto the wall of the arena, to which was then added a running tabulation of the league tables, updated immediately as the results came in. This was highly efficient. Play began at 9.30 and ended at 3.15. Needless to say, we were most impressed with the whole set-up.
Both A & B teams made a dynamic start to their Division 1 campaign with 6-0 wins over Generation 2 and Weymouth A respectively, both of whom had some strong players who were unlucky to be on the wrong end of that score-line. Next up was the clash between A & B teams, with A justifying their status with a 5-1 win: Lewis blotted the A team’s copybook by defeating Todd over four close games, while Joe and Kiarash remained unbeaten. However, stronger opponents were around the corner in the form of Southampton A, with Kiarash defeating young Ben Poulter for our only win in a 1-5 defeat. At this stage B caught up with A in the points tally after a 5-1 win over Winchester A. The match between B and Southampton A was a highlight of the day, with B putting on a better display than A had done in a hard fought battle: Lewis had very close games with both William Poulter and Jared Schaller, narrowly losing to Jared, but beating William; Rafe came close to upsetting William as well – that’s the best I’ve seen Rafe play - while Ryan went to five with both opponents, beating the diminutive but very talented Ben. By the end of the day A had W3, D1, L1, while B had W3 D0 L2, with A accruing 21 points and B 18, finishing 2nd and 3rd respectively in the league table. Southampton had two very strong players at the top and a fine 3rd player. The other three teams had a strong player at the top, but lacked the strength in depth of the two Kidlington teams. Our team selection worked out broadly okay. The only caveat would be Lewis Waddup, who, with only three losses over the whole day, galvanised the B team and, taking all the pressure as the no 1 ranked player, equalled the performance of Todd Stanmore. Our two no. 3 players excelled, Kiarash with 8/10 and Ryan with 7/10: truth be told we have six players of quite similar ability.
By way of contrast our C & D teams began the day on the receiving end, with Basingstoke demolishing our D team 6-0, and our Cs recovering from 0-2 down to claim a draw with Weymouth B. The C team recovered to defeat the Ds 5-1, with Vicky Coll breaking the Ds’ duck in a narrow victory over Bertie Anstis. Jamie, Robbie and Bertie went on to score a 6-0 victory over Southampton B and 4-2 over Winchester B, even giving themselves a chance of promotion in the final match against Basingstoke, whose top two players proved to be a bit too strong, carrying them to a deserved Division 1 place next time round after a 4-2 victory. Both Jamie and Bertie won 7/10 and Robbie 6/10, as they took 2nd place overall.
The Ds also perked up, defeating Weymouth B 5-1 and Southampton B 4-2, before drawing 3-3 with Winchester B in the final match, securing 4th position. Arthur improved throughout the day to finish with 6/10, catching Vicky at the post, while Scott made his debut in this age group with 1/10, losing two matches 2-3 and three 1-3, an outcome which will give him plenty of encouragement, as he continues to improve.
Family support was in abundance, with Carl Stanmore, Farshad Shaddel, Marjan Ghazirad, Phil Waddup, Dante Fleming, Paul & Lyn Hambridge, Billy & Gill McNeil, Eila Watson, Richard Anstis and Paul Campbell all on hand to offer advice and moral support, the last two doing a fine job as team managers for the C & D teams respectively. With young Bertie claiming a place in the C team, just ahead of older brother Arthur in the Ds, their father Richard found himself in the bizarre role of coaching C team players Jamie and Robbie to narrow 3-2 victories over his own son from the D team!
This was an enjoyable day and all the players carried the flag for Kidlington with skill and sportsmanship. We were clearly far and away the strongest outfit there and added a lot to an event which would otherwise have been a rather parochial Hampshire affair.