This Division remains something of a conundrum, hardly any of the players, bar one, has played more than one meeting so predicting what is going to happen is quite difficult, even for those “in the know”.   There wasn’t a lot of difference between the top three, just two points separated them and the bottom where, again, two points separated the three teams.   There was, however, a gap of four points between the third and fourth places.   Tandridge B led the table on nine points with Cleeve Park C just a point behind and Darenth B one further behind.   Amherst B were in fourth place on three, Amherst C on two and South Croydon B on one.

Round 3

All three matches resulted in 5-0 but not all these were all that simple.   Amherst B (Lucy Thresher/Anna Clews) are quite accustomed to playing the Darenth B boys (Charlie Helmer and Oliver Ames) who are very much part of the School squad so competing against them was not a problem.   The boys, however, weren’t feeling that generous and gave the girls few chances to show what they can do.

Harry Turner, the sole player appearing for the second time in the Division was in partnership with new boy Tayo Hing for Cleeve Park C against the leaders Tandridge B (Alex Griffin/ Finlay Taylor).   There were some close games here but like Darenth B, they weren’t feeling over generous either although some games were tight and the doubles went to four games.

Amherst C had two new players out for their team, Thomas Puttock and Lois Mugford against an unknown South Croydon B team of Sam Lines and Evelyn Lippett.   It was quite obvious that the South Croydon players had been playing for longer than the Amherst team who only started last October but they did their best and hopefully learned something.

After five Rounds Cleeve Park C had taken the lead on 13 points with Darenth B close behind on 12.   Tandridge had dropped to third on nine points while South Croydon B had moved up to fourth on six.   Amherst B were on three and Amherst C on two.

Round 4

There were two closer matches in Round 6 where the first of the return matches are played.   Both were much better as the players settled in to the rigours of competitive play.   Amherst B (Clews/Thresher)  took on South Croydon B (Lippett/Lines).   The opening singles were shared with Clews beating Lippett while Lines had his work cut out to beat Thresher.   The doubles was tight but went to South Croydon in straight games.   The reverse singles were shared, Clews got close to Lines but couldn’t quite nail the tight games while Thresher, following in the footsteps of brother James, kept steady and held off Lippett in straight games to keep the score to 2-3.

Darenth B (Ames/Helmer) had their work cut out against Tandridge B (Griffin/Taylor) and three sets required a deciding game with a fourth going to four.   It was certainly one of the best matches of the day.   Tandridge took both the opening singles but not without a fight.  Griffin only just got past Ames 17-15 in the fourth and Taylor had to go to five to beat Helmer having lost the third game 1-11.   Amherst kickstarted their revival taking the doubles 12-10 in the fifth to get back in the match and fought their way back by winning both the reverse singles, Ames beating Taylor 16-14 in the third and Helmer refusing to budge, storming back from 1-2 down against Griffin to take it in five to secure a 3-2 victory.

Amherst C (Puttock/Mugford) struggled against Cleeve Park C (Hing/Turner) though there was some joy with Mugford taking a game from Turner but all credit to the Cleeve Park boys who realised their opponents were not very experienced and played with rather than against them, a very gentlemanly, sporting, approach.

At the end of the day Cleeve Park C had taken over the lead on 18, Darenth B were in second place on 15, Tandridge B had dropped to third on 11 while South Croydon B had moved up to fourth on nine.   Amherst B were on five with Amherst C still on two.

The whole concept of the Junior Development Divisions is to give young players under the age of 18 the opportunity to compete, regardless of standard.   To that end, it is being achieved with Division 1 encompassing a number of youngsters operating at National Cadet level while the ones just putting a toe in the water are finding out what it’s all about in Division 2.


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