JUNIOR DEVELOPMENT DIVISION 2 – 09.03.19 - DAY 4
CLEEVE PARK C SECURE TITLE ON DAY 4
At the start of Day 4 Cleeve Park C were comfortably clear of Darenth B and Tandridge B who were in equal second place on 20. There was a big gap between these three and the other three teams – Amherst B were on 10, South Croydon B on nine and Amherst C on three.
Cleeve Park C had a new recruit to the League, Julian Piasecki, who was partnering Emir Sayad against the Amherst B team of Lucy Thresher and Anna Clews. There were some close games here but Cleeve Park C still recorded a 5-0 without the loss of one.
Tandridge B (Alex Griffin/Finlay Taylor) had their hands full with Amherst C (Luke Mais/James Honey) who put up a spirited performance against some experienced opponents. The opening singles were shared - Griffin defeating Mais whilst Taylor and Honey battled it out over five games. Honey led 2-1 but got pegged back at two all. It was anyone’s to win in the fifth and it went to Honey 11-8. Tandridge won the doubles to take the lead. However, the reverse singles were very closely contested – Griffin defeating Honey in four while Taylor and Mais had an epic battle. It went to five long games before Taylor finally got over the line 15-13 to make it a 4-1 victory for Tandridge.
There was an even closer battle going on between South Croydon B (Evelyn Lippett/Rebecca Chung) and Darenth B (Alex Papadopoulos/Ben Honey). The opening singles were shared with Papadopoulos managing to hold off the left handed Lippett at 12-10 in the fourth. It is unusual to see a penhold style player at any level, let along Juniors, but it suits Honey just fine and made for some interesting rallies between him and Chung. It was very close as 11-9, 7-11, 11-9, 12-10 to Chung suggests. Darenth took the doubles to lead 2-1 and then it was back to the grindstone. Honey came within a whisker of defeating Lippett in five games as 11-9, 11-8, 9-11, 10-12, 6-11 shows, making the score two sets all. It was therefore down to Chung and Papadopoulos to settle the outcome. Chung got a flyer in the first and then charged for the line to make it 3-2 to South Croydon.
After seven Rounds Cleeve Park C had extended their lead to 11 points and Tandridge B on 24 had overtaken Darenth B on 22. South Croydon B on 12 had moved ahead of Amherst B on 10 with Amherst C on four.
Tandridge B (Griffin/Taylor) were looking good in second spot but Cleeve Park C (Piasecki/Sayad), despite being in such a strong position, weren’t handing out any Easter presents. They were, however, made to work for their victory. Griffin and Piasecki played out a hard fought set with Griffin eventually getting home in five after being 2-1 up in the opening singles. Taylor gave Hamad a run for his money as 11-13, 10-12, 8-11 indicates. Cleeve Park C won the doubles to take the lead and claimed both the reverse singles for a 4-1 victory.
South Croydon B (Chung/Lippett) were on a roll but still had work to do to beat Amherst C (Honey/Mais) who were getting better as the afternoon wore on and there were several very close games, not enough though for Amherst C to stop South Croydon B recording a maximum.
On paper the Darenth B (Papadopoulos/Ben Honey) and Amherst B (Thresher/Clews) match looks like a fairly comfortable 4-1 victory for Darenth. It was anything but with the girls prepared to give as good as they got. Two sets went to five and two more to four. Papadopoulos had his work cut out against Thresher and had to haul himself back from 0-2 down to get home 11-8 in the fifth. Honey had to pull out all the stops to beat Clews in four for a 2-0 lead. The girls combined well to take a game in the doubles but Papadopoulos was too consistent for Clews in the first of the reverse singles. By now the other two matches had finished and everyone settled down to watch a very good set between Honey and Thresher. Honey took a 2-0 lead but got deprived of the third 11-13 and then fell apart in the fourth. He got a lead early in the fifth and held four match points but Thresher gets a lot of good stuff back and levelled at 10 all. She didn’t buckle under the pressure and managed to get over the line 12-10. It was a very exciting set to close out the day.
Cleeve Park C thus claimed the title and are untouchable on 37. Darenth B on 26 have sneaked one point ahead of Tandridge B on 25 with South Croydon B roaring up the table to 17. Amherst B have 11 and Amherst C have increased their tally to four.
Day 5 might be a celebration for Cleeve Park but who comes in as runner up is very much open to question. Tandridge and Darenth have to play each other with Tandridge’s second match being against Amherst B while Darenth have Amherst C to play.