DIVISION 1 – 24.09.17 – DAY 1
FLYING START FOR CROWNWOODS
Division 1 got under way on 24th September with Darenth B joining their ranks and the Leigh C team swapping places with the B who were relegated. There were some players returning to the League and some new faces amongst those taking part.
There was a delay before Round 1 got cracking but it brought some very hard-fought ones with plenty of interesting sets, many going the distance.
Typical of this was the Crownwoods match with champions Darenth A. Richard Beckham was joined by Richard Farthing while regulars Alan Longhurst and Matt Emery turned out for Darenth. All the first three sets went the distance. Beckham was, by his own admission, a bit slow to find his rhythm against Longhurst and went two games down before finding it but once established Longhurst found it very tough to control the pace as he had done so well at first and succumbed 11-7 in the fifth. Farthing and Emery shared the first four games, Emery levelling after being 1-2 behind. The fifth brought some excellent rallies and very fine play from both men before Farthing held on to win 11-9 in the fifth. The doubles too was well contested with Crownwoods recouping a 1-2 deficit to make it three in a row. Crownwoods were truly on a roll and won both the reverse singles. Farthing though had to go to five with Longhurst to make it a clean sweep. Darenth will no doubt be disappointed as it could so easily have been an entirely different story.
Leigh A have had their close season problems with players and it was a very different looking side who turned out against Darenth B (John Dyson/Dave Bonner). Farhang Fazeli was new to the League with Landor Luo making a welcome return after some years away. Three sets required a deciding game here. Dyson got the better of Fazeli 11-9 in the fifth after coming back from 1-2 behind while Luo blasted out of the blocks with a straight games win over Bonner. The doubles was close and in truth Darenth could have had this in four as they were 2-1 up before dropping the fourth 13-11. There was another long set for Dyson against Luo where he might have lost in straight games but managed to stretch the penholder to a fifth. Unhappily for him Luo got over the line first. Fazeli wrapped it up for Leigh A for a 4-1 victory.
Leigh B were struggling for a full regular team and Sue Pingram stepped in to partner husband Roger for them against Otford A’s Martin Tate and League debutant Paul Livermore. Roger was going well against Tate but it all went wrong in the third and Tate stormed home in five. Sue almost pushed Livermore to a fourth game and Otford grabbed the doubles for a 3-0 lead. There was a very keenly fought duel between Roger and Livermore which went the distance with Livermore holding a 2-1 lead before Roger pinched the fourth 11-9 and went on to take the fifth to open Leigh B’s account. Sue did her best against Tate but he wasn’t giving her anything and secured the set for a 4-1 win.
With all the Round 1 matches being lengthy affairs, Round 2 was very late getting under way. The matches went through fairly quickly but there were still some sets which went the distance and lots of games which were close. One such was the Leigh domestic derby. Farzeli had to hold off a charge from the B’s Roger Pingram where he was strongly challenged in the fourth and Sue Pingram gave Luo a run for his money, particularly in the second and third which he only just won 15-13, 14-12. Leigh B were a bit unfortunate in the doubles where a big effort saw them take a 2-1 lead but they were unable to hold on to it and had to give best 10-12 in the fifth. Sue did well to take a game from Farzeli but it was down to husband Roger to keep Luo at bay 15-13, l2-10, 12-10 to get a point on the board for the B.
Darenth A (Emery/Longhurst) had a bit to prove in their local derby with Otford A (Tate/Livermore). Emery was taken the distance by Tate but got there 11-8 in the fifth but thereafter it was four straight games wins for Darenth A to make it 5-0.
It was a tough task for Darenth B (Dyson/Bonner) in taking on a rampant Crownwoods (Beckham/Farthing) but they put up a good fight. Dyson took the second game from Beckham and could have beaten Farthing when he was match point up in the fifth and missed a sitter which ultimately cost him the set.
Crownwoods have therefore made a flying start with 10 points in the bag. Leigh A are in touch with eight and Darenth A have five. Otford A are on four, Leigh B on two and Darenth B off the mark on one. There’s a long way to go and many a hard set ahead to play. It remains to be seen whether the top two can maintain their early form.