DIVISION 3 – 21.10.18 – DAY 2
CLEEVE PARK A PULL CLEAR OF THE PACK
Only three points covered the five teams who competed on Day 1. Cleeve Park A led on eight Darenth D and Halstead B were joint second on six with Otford A and Halstead A in equal fourth on five. South Croydon didn’t turn up and had yet to open their account. Everyone was present and correct on Day 2 and no less than five matches were recorded as 3-2.
Leaders Cleeve Park A (Tony Annand/Bryan Taylor) had a battle royale with Halstead B (Alan Johnson/Richard Nash) with three sets requiring a deciding game and another went to four. The opening singles were shared. Annand won the first game against Johnson but then trailed 1-2. He got back on terms with some sharp attacking and then held on to win 11-9 in the fifth. Nash kept Taylor at bay and Halstead then took a lengthy doubles in five, recouping an 0-2 deficit to do so. Nash was fully extended by Annand who again took an early lead. He came within a whisker of beating Nash, only just losing the fourth 9-11 before having to give best 8-11 in the fifth. It was a winning lead for Halstead. Taylor lost the first game 10-12 to Johnson but some skilful lobbing and a lot of dashing about got him home in four games to keep the score to 2-3.
Halstead A (Ted Tydeman/Alex Clarke) were given a run for their money by South Croydon B (Sam Porter/Yuvathi Vijay). Tydeman started off well against Porter who then seemed to have the measure of him and levelled two games all. The decider was anyone’s and it went to Tydeman 12-10. Vijay got a flying start against Clarke in the first game but Clarke adapted and almost took the second, losing only 10-12. He managed to secure the third. Vijay, however, ran away with the fourth. A long doubles ensued which Halstead might well have won as 5-11, 11-8, 11-13, 12-10, 8-11 would suggest. This put South Croydon 2-1 ahead. Halstead got their heads down and took both the reverse singles for a 3-2 victory.
The Darenth D (Ben Jakes/Mike Tyler) and Otford A (Sarah Maris/Phil Edge) derby featured only one set going the distance. The opening singles were shared. Maris was looking sharp and beat a rather ring rusty Jakes while Tyler kept steady as ever to defeat Edge who was making his League debut and back playing after a break of many years. A wrist injury didn’t aid his cause. Darenth took the doubles in straight games to lead 2-1. Jakes was settling down slowly against Edge but still trailed 1-2. Edge had the chance to secure the set when a mishit serve from Jakes popped up. Edge overhit and Jakes hung on to take the fourth 13-11. He was off the hook. Mistakes from both were still more frequent than either would have liked but eventually Jakes gritted his teeth and scrambled home 12-10 to secure the win for Darenth. Maris and Tyler had fought an epic five game set a few days before but this time it was a straight games victory for Maris so the match finished with a 3-2 victory for Darenth.
The situation after three Rounds was thus Cleeve Park A on 10. Darenth D had closed to within a point and were still level with Halstead B. Halstead A had overtaken Otford A on seven and were on eight. South Croydon made their first deposit in the bank of two.
Halstead B (Nash/Johnson) found themselves embroiled in another long struggle, this time with South Croydon B (Vijay/Porter). Once more the opening sets were shared. Nash could have lost to Vijay. He grabbed the first game 12-10, took the second but then lost the next two. He built a good lead in the fifth and Vijay was unable to claw her way back into the game. Porter dropped the second to Johnson but then moved smoothly through the third and fourth to win. The left-right combination worked well for Halstead and they won a tight doubles 11-8, 11-9, 13-11. One of the best sets of the day came between Nash and Porter with some excellent rallies. Both players like to power the ball and it certainly took some punishment. Porter managed to take a 2-1 lead and was close to making it a win in four with Nash nipping home 11-9 to level. Nash got a great start in the decider and pulled through 11-4. So it was down to Vijay to try to peg the score to 2-3 which she did in straight games against Johnson.
The Darenth D (Tyler/Jakes) and Halstead A (Tydeman/Clarke) derby was very keenly contested. The sets were played out of sequence due to names being put under the wrong team but it didn’t diminish the competition. The first two sets were shared. Tyler was too steady for Clarke and Tydeman’s combination bat set Jakes some problems. Halstead took the doubles and the lead. Tyler and Tydeman should have gone to expedite in the first game which took 11 minutes to play which Tyler took 15-13. Tydeman wanted the clock put on the next game but neither that nor the other two took anything like as long and Tyler notched up a win at 14-12 in the fourth. It was thus all square and down to Jakes and Clarke to decide the outcome. The set was notable for the most extraordinary number of nets and edges. Initially it seemed to be Clarke who was the lucky man though Jakes still managed to snaffle the first 11-9. Clarke got back on terms but Jakes began to get the run of the table, took the third and was definitely fortunate in the fourth where three dead nets in a row late in the game sealed Clarke’s fate. Lady Luck is indeed a fickle creature. It did mean a 3-2 win however to Darenth.
The only match which didn’t have a 3-2 scoreline was that between Cleeve Park A (Annand/Taylor) and Otford A (Edge/Maris). Annand dropped the first game to Edge but then settled and pulled through in four games. Taylor and Maris had another of their epic battles going to five games. There were some very good rallies here and it was anyone’s to win after Marris pulled back from 0-2 to level. The fifth was tight with Taylor finally scrambling home 12-10. Cleeve Park took the doubles in four and Annand battled his way past Maris in four. Taylor was going well and Edge found it hard to put the ball out of his reach so it finished as a clean sheet for Cleeve Park.
Cleeve Park A have thus opened up a three point lead at the top of the table. Darenth D and Halstead B are still locked together on 12 with Halstead A moving into fourth place on 10. Otford A have seven and South Croydon B doubled their score to four. The Division is very even and South Croydon are not out of their depth here. They will surely continue to make a contribution and there will be a lot more very close matches played.