DIVISION 5 – 07.10.18 – DAY 1
SPARTA KEEP CLEAN SHEETS ON DAY 1
The revamped Division 5 got its campaign under way meeting for the first time on 7th October. The Division now comprises two teams each from Darenth and South Croydon and one team each from Sparta and Otford. Understandably the personnel had changed and there were four new faces amongst “The Regulars”.
The first of the domestic derbies between Darenth G (Eddie Gillhouley/George Lipscombe) and Darenth H (Sophia Lipscombe/Henry Morrell) brought a surprising start with Lipscombe who quietly gets on with the job and is more difficult to play than she appears, defeating Gillhouley over three games. The G got back on track with a win for George over Morrell and they then took the doubles in straight games. Gillhouley took the first two games from Morrell but then dropped the next two. He refocused to get home 11-8 in the fifth. Brother and sister Lipscombe closed out the match with a win for George to make it 4-1 for the G team.
South Croydon D had two players, Christophoros Christopher and Joe Aguei making their League debuts against Sparta (Rob Foster/Paul Hilton) and found the going quite tough. Christopher took a game from the lofty Foster while Aguei went to five with the left hander Hilton. It was a good effort from Aguei to draw level from 0-2 down but Hilton ran away with the fifth. Sparta added the doubles for a winning lead and then collected both the reverse singles in three straight though some games were close. It was thus a maximum for Sparta.
The Otford D team was likewise composed of two debutants, Harrie Austin-Jones and Jon Broyden, the latter stepping into the breach at the last minute. They were facing South Croydon’s two young guns, Leone Saccoh and Rocco Martinez-Paoli who started in the Junior Development Division and are now seasoned campaigners. Austin-Jones set Saccoh a few problems being left handed, roaring away with the third 11-3 but couldn’t maintain that level of pressure. Martinez-Paoli was fast out of the traps giving Broyden little time to settle in. Otford began to put the brakes on in the doubles which they lost in four. The reverse singles were shared, Austin-Jones enjoying the pace that Martinez-Paoli likes to play at while Saccoh kept himself in check to defeat Broyden, making it a 4-1 victory for South Croydon C.
Sparta had the lead after Round 1 on five. Darenth G and South Croydon C had four points each in equal second. Darenth H and Otford D had got off the mark on one with South Croydon D yet to open their account.
Sparta (Foster/Hilton) collected their second clean sheet against Darenth H (Sophia Lipscombe/Morrell) but it wasn’t that straight forward as four sets required a fourth game and there was plenty of good play here. There was a bit left in the tank with the Sparta men though. It was tough for the newly promoted H team but they will take much from the match.
The second domestic derby of the day was between South Croydon C (Martinez-Paoli/Saccoh) and South Croydon D (Christopher/Aguei). This was, needless to say, very competitive. Martinez-Paoli got the C off on the right tack with a straight games win over Christopher while Saccoh and Aguei did battle in an excellent set. It resulted in a win for Aguei who had trailed 1-2. The doubles went to the C in four games giving them the lead. The reverse singles were no less keenly fought. Martinez-Paoli got past Aguei but it was very tight as 14-12, 11-9, 11-8 suggests. The last set was a duel between Saccoh and Christopher. Saccoh led 2-0 but faded to two games all. He did, however, manage to build a big enough lead to fend off a late charge from Christopher to give the C bragging rights.
Darenth G (Gillhouley/George Lipscombe) had a local derby with Otford D (Austin-Jones/Broyden). The opening singles were shared Gillhouley losing to the lefthander Austin-Jones while Lipscombe kept steady to defeat Broyden in straight games. The doubles went to Darenth G over four very close games – playing a right-left combination is never easy. Darenth won both the reverse singles in straight games although Austin-Jones almost pinched the third from Lipscombe. The Darenth boys were happy with four points in the bag.
It’s early days but the Division has already split. Sparta had a full house on Day 1. The Darenth G and South Croydon C juniors are in joint second place on eight points each. Otford D have two points with Darenth H and South Croydon D on one apiece. Sparta certainly look strong but the Darenth G and South Croydon teams may have something to say about that. There’s a lot of water to go under the bridge and given the way juniors improve so quickly, there may just be some very interesting matches next time around.