DIVISION 5 – 10.03.19 – DAY 5
SPARTA ROMP AWAY WITH TITLE
At the start of the final meeting of Division 5, Sparta were way out in front with the title already secured. The main focus would therefore now be on the race for the runners-up spot. Darenth G were one point ahead of South Croydon C and after these two there was a considerable gap to South Croydon D on 14 who weren’t safe from relegation with Darenth H on 11 and Otford D on nine.
Sparta were struggling to find a partner for Rob Foster but a late registration Terry Mustafa came to the rescue. They were taken on by South Croydon C’s young guns Rocco Martinez-Paoli and Leone Saccoh. The opening singles were shared with Martinez-Paoli defeating Mustafa while Foster beat Saccoh. The doubles went to five and was eventually nailed by Sparta. Saccoh brought the match back to parity with a win over Mustafa so it was down to Foster and Martinez-Paoli to sort things out. It was very close and Foster might well have won this in straight games but Martinez-Paoli bounced back to claim it - 8-11, 11-13, 12-10, 11-7, 11-7 tells the story. It therefore finished as 3-2 to South Croydon C – it was Sparta’s first defeat of the season.
Otford D were likewise in trouble player wise and Mike Gold was the only player available. He soldiered on but not alone as a guest player was found. Darenth H (Daniel Record/Henry Morrell) were the grateful recipients of three points. Gold beat both the boys but had his work cut out against the left hander Morrell as 11-9, 12-10, 12-10 shows.
Darenth G were also in trouble with Joe Tickner stricken by the flu bug the day before so Tommy Cowling was called up from the I team to help out Eddie Gillhouley. Massimo De Santis played his first match of the season in partnership with Amro Sinjab for South Croydon D. Gillhouley initially had a problem or two with De Santis but worked out what to do and sailed through in straight games. Cowling gave of his best but Sinjab’s heavy spins proved problematic. South Croydon won all the remaining sets, Cowling doing well to take a game from De Santis, to record a 4-1.
Sparta were now on 39 but South Croydon C had moved one point ahead of Darenth G. South Croydon D were on 18, Darenth H on 14 and Otford D on 12.
It was asking a lot of Darenth G (Gillhouley/Cowling) to get five points off Sparta and put South Croydon C under pressure. However, they gave it a go and picked up two of the singles plus the doubles. Would it be enough to get promotion?
Darenth H (Daniel Record/Sophia Lipscombe) would undoubtedly give of their best against South Croydon C (Saccoh/Martinez-Paoli) who could take no chances. Darenth H lost the first three sets though and so really needed to take the last two to help out the G. It was a valiant effort from Lipscombe in the fourth set as she pulled one out of the hat from 1-2 down to beat Saccoh. Martinez-Paoli kept control of the pace in the last set against Record so it finished as 4-1 to South Croydon C.
Otford D were at a disadvantage against South Croydon D (De Santis/Sinjab) giving 3 points away before the match started but Gold managed to get past De Santis in straight games to get one on the board. He also took Sinjab to a fourth game but it meant a 1-4 loss overall.
Sparta was thus crowned champions and South Croydon C pipped Darenth G on the post to take the runners-up spot by two points. It’s worth recording that South Croydon C’s two boys, Rocco Martinez-Paoli and Leone Saccoh played unchanged throughout the season. South Croydon D finished on 22, Darenth H on 15 and Otford D on 12.