DIVISION 2 – DAY 2 – 28.10.18
LEIGH D EMERGE AS CLEAR LEADERS
At the start of Day 2 there was a triple tie at the top of the table – Leigh D, Bromley Common B and Darenth B all had seven points. Bromley Common A were on four, South Croydon A were on 3 and Darenth C had two. Thus five points covered the entire complement.
Given the high standard of play surprisingly there were to be only two matches decided 3-2 and some very lengthy ones were played.
By far the longest match was that between Darenth B (Dave Bonner/Tim Walters) and South Croydon A (Alex Ito-Aramendia/Ian Brown). It is common for two or maybe three sets to go the distance but rarely do all five which is what happened here. Many games were close and all were played at a very fast pace. It began with Bonner recouping an 0-2 deficit in a set where he might well have won in four as 4-11, 12-14, 11-9, 11-5, 7-11 shows. Brown had to come back from 0-2 to defeat Walters and South Croydon then won a very up and down doubles which went against form in the fifth. South Croydon had definitely been stronger in the first and third games while it went the other way for Darenth in the second and fourth. Surprisingly they held the lead at the changeover and would have expected to kick on from there but it didn’t happen and the set went South Croydon’s way. In the reverse singles Bonner charged into a 2-0 lead over Ito-Aramendia who then regrouped and turned it around. The match took so long to play that the final set between Walters and Ito-Aramendia started after the other two matches had finished. The boys had a very appreciative audience and put on a spectacular display which would have graced the Junior Singles final. Walters had been picking up his form as he went along but had to recover from 0-2 to level at two games all. It was anyone’s to win in the fifth with some truly magnificent play from both lads. Walters finally sealed it at 14-12 to get a point on the board. Maybe a 3-2 would have been a fairer reflection but all credit to South Croydon, they were dogged in their determination.
The only 3-2 score line came from the Bromley Common A (Sylwester Czapinski/Dave Gabriel) and Darenth C where Alexey Luzhnov was making his club debut alongside Scott Gabriel. The opening singles were shared, Czapinski defeating Luzhnov in straight games while Scott won the family battle with his uncle. Bromley Common took the doubles in straight games and the reverse singles were shared. Both were decided in four, Czapkinski defeating Scott and Luzhnov defeating Dave to keep the score to 2-3.
A very strong looking Leigh D team of Dan Powley and Dave Cowlen had their work cut out by Bromley Common B where Martin Saddler was returning to the League after a lengthy break to partner Stuart Inglis. Powley got to grips against Inglis after losing the first game in the opening set. Cowlen and Saddler then had quite a tussle. Cowlen took the first and Saddler the next two. Cowlen got back on terms and closed it out 11-8 in the fifth. Leigh then added the doubles for a commanding lead. A tremendous battle then ensued between Inglis and Cowlen. A look at the scores tell part of the story, 12-10, 10-12, 6-11, 19-17, 10-12 to Cowlen but no scorecard can ever show styles and skills. Inglis plays some very good angles from unorthodox positions and certainly gave Cowlen a run for his money. It was down to Saddler to try to stop the whitewash but Powley had him on the rack from the start and never let him settle.
After three rounds Leigh D emerged as front runners on 12. Darenth B were in second place on eight, Bromley Common B and Bromley Common A were level on seven and Darenth C had four.
The only other 3-2 score line came from the match between Bromley Common A (Dave Gabriel/Czapkinski) and Leigh D (Powley/Cowlen). The opening singles were shared with a comfortable win for Powley over Dave and likewise for Czapinski over Cowlen. The doubles was a different story though with Dave placing the ball to the maximum discomfiture of his opponents in the first two games. The Leigh men had a conference and altered course to level and then closed it out 11-6 in the fifth. The reverse singles were likewise shared, Cowlen judging the pace well against Dave while Czapkinski shifted gears and got past Powley in straight games to keep it to 2-3.
Darenth C (Scott Gabriel/Luzhnov) put up a great fight against South Croydon A (Ito-Aramendia/Brown). One set went to five and three others required a fourth game and even the fifth set, although decided in straight games, was closer than might suggest. South Croydon won both the opening singles. Scott began well, taking the first game from Ito-Aramendia but then faded somewhat. Luzhnov likewise took a game from Brown, only just failing at 13-15 to push him to a fifth game. The doubles went to Darenth in four and then it was down to cases, Brown being pegged back to two all after leading 2-0 against Scott and pulling out all the stops to take the fifth. Ito-Aramendia took the first from Luzhnov but then had to fight hard as Luzhnov put him under pressure. It was a 4-1 victory for South Croydon though.
Darenth B (Bonner/Walters) got to work on Bromley Common B (Inglis/Saddler) after Inglis defeated Bonner over three very close games in the opening singles. Walters was, by now, motoring along nicely though Saddler almost pinched the third game. Bromley Common took the first game in the doubles but Bonner and Walters got their act together and took the next three games. Inglis and Saddler did their best in the reverse singles but couldn’t hold their opponents off.
At the end of Day 2 the picture had clarified. Leigh D led on 15, Darenth B were in second place on 12, South Croydon A had moved up into third on 11, Bromley Common A had nine, one point ahead of their B team, while Darenth C were on five. However, there’s a long way still to go and this is a very strong Division. The challenges will come thick and fast over the remaining meetings.