DIVISION 5 – 21.01.18 – DAY 3
SOUTH CROYDON PULL CLEAR AT THE TOP
At the start of Day 3 just six points covered the entire Division. Otford D and C were level on 13 points each, South Croydon C were on 10, Sparta A on nine, Sparta B on eight and Bromley Common D on seven. There were some key matches scheduled which would prove crucial.
The closest match of this Round was that between Otford D (Ben Edmed/Richard Cowling) and Sparta A (Mark Walker/Rob Foster). The opening sets were shared, Walker defeating Edmed in straight games and Cowling replying in kind against Foster. Sparta A won a very tight doubles to take the lead which became a winning one with a four game win for Foster over Edmed. Cowling put pressure on Walker from the outset and won in straight games to keep the score to 2-3.
South Croydon C were holding their own in third place but with their lead player Yuvathi Vijay unavailable Leone Saccoh, playing up a division, and Rocco Martinez-Paoli were soon in trouble against Otford C (Tony York/Peter Clarke) who know their way around a ping table and have their own unique styles. The boys soon found out that any mid court replies, and sometimes long ones would be dispatched for winners. York in top form made short work of Martinez-Paoli and though Clarke dropped the first game to the hard hitting Saccoh, he adapted and raced away with the next three. Otford took a winning lead through winning the doubles but then had to up their games to keep the youngsters at bay as they adjusted. York defeated Saccoh in four, but Clarke had to go to the distance to beat Martinez-Paoli and keep a clean sheet for Otford.
Bromley Common D (Joy Grohmann/Terry Edwards) were only a single point behind Sparta B who were struggling to get out a team. Isaacs despite not being 100% fit, turned out accompanied by a new signing Jerry Barnard. The first two sets were shared – Grohmann finding Isaacs use of long pips a bit problematic while Edwards, always very steady, levelled the match with a straight games win over Barnard. Sparta won the doubles followed by a close victory for Barnard over Grohmann, 11-8, 11-8, 9-11, 11-9 gives a clue. Isaacs wrapped it up for Sparta defeating Edwards in straight games.
After five rounds, there had been a shake up in the table. Otford C had taken the lead on 18, Otford D had 15, Sparta A and Sparta B had moved into equal third. South Croydon C had slipped to fifth on 10 with Bromley Common D only two points behind on eight.
All these matches were decided by large margins, but many sets were much closer than the results suggest. One such was the South Croydon C (Martinez-Paoli/Saccoh) and Otford D match where Charlie Massey joined Cowling. South Croydon began well with a surprise win for Martinez-Paoli over Cowling. Massey, however, had plenty of patience and kept steady even though he was pegged back to two games all by Saccoh before getting home 11-9 in the fifth. Otford won a close doubles 11-8, 10-12, 11-7, 11-9 and were on a roll when Massey defeated Martinez-Paoli over five games. The fifth was particularly close with Massey not being tempted to attack too much. It stood at nine points all when he popped a backhand wide down the forehand and then picked off a short ball down the line. Cowling wrapped it up with a four game win over Saccoh. A 4-1 victory for Otford D it might be but definitely not that easy.
The Otford C (York/Clarke) and Bromley Common D (Edwards/Grohmann) match was another with a big margin but also with some very close sets. York was pushed to a fourth game by Edwards and Clarke won a tight set with Grohmann. The doubles was a comparatively straight forward win for Otford but the last two sets, although won, were not. York could easily have lost to Grohmann. He was down 0-2 (10-12, 9-11) but took the third 11-8 and then raced away with the fourth and fifth. Clarke dropped the first game against Edwards but then took the next three to keep a clean sheet for Otford.
In the Sparta domestic derby (A – Isaacs/Barnard), B – Foster/Dave Smith) there were some close games, especially the first which went to Foster 10-12, 12-10, 11-8, 11-9 and Barnard almost stretched Smith to a fifth, losing the fourth only 10-12. The A won the doubles and Isaacs got the B on the board with a very tactical battle against Smith winning in four after dropping the second. Foster mopped up for a 4-1 victory.
The situation at the end of play was Otford C now top on 23 points. Otford B on 19, Sparta A on 16, Sparta B on 13, South Croydon C on 11 and Bromley Common D not out of touch on eight.
Anything could happen at the next meeting – no one team is guaranteed promotion and nor are the mid table teams safe from relegation. There are plenty of pitfalls and it will be interesting to see how Day 4 develops.