DIVISION 6 – 29.04.18 – DAY 5
DOUBLE DELIGHT FOR DARENTH
Before the final meeting commenced, Darenth H had firm control at the top of the table on 34, nine points clear of South Croydon D and Darenth I who were tying on 25. Halstead C had 20, Bromley Common E 13 and Tandridge three. Whilst Darenth H were unlikely not to pick up a point somewhere along the line, who would take the runners up spot was very much open to question and Halstead were lurking nearby too.
Only one match in this Round produced a 3-2 and that was the domestic derby between Darenth I (Sophia Lipscombe/Joe Tickner) and Darenth H (Kieran Fry/Dan Record). The I did well to take both the opening singles with wins for Lipscombe over Fry and a straight games win for Tickner over Record. The doubles was very tight with the H turning a 0-2 deficit into a five game victory. They were on the edge of defeat late in the fifth but scrambled home 12-10. The reverse singles were shared. Lipscombe is very steady and gets some amazing shots back as Record found to his cost but Fry managed to take the first two games from Tickner and opened up a lead to get the third as well, pegging the match score to 2-3. It was a bit of a wakey wakey call for the H but great news for the I as it kept their promotion hopes alive.
Halstead C (Jo Fooks/Pam Butcher) collected five from Tandridge (Alex Wright/Sam O’Gorman) though Fooks had to go to five to beat the leftie Wright. Facing a World Champion in Butcher was a bit daunting for the boys, Butcher being a past mistress of putting the ball where her opponents don’t want it.
South Croydon D were stretched to get a team together so Robin Faulkner turned out for them in partnership with Omari Levers against Bromley Common E (George Rogai/Michael Elliott). South Croydon took a 2-0 lead by winning both opening singles but the doubles was a struggle and they had to recoup a 1-2 deficit before getting home 13-11 in the fifth. South Croydon also won both the reverse singles for a clean sheet.
Before the final countdown, Darenth H had claimed the title on 36. South Croydon D were on 30 and had pulled ahead of Darenth I on 28. Halstead C had closed to 25 points. Bromley Common E remained on 13 and Tandridge on three.
Darenth H had a change in line up for the last round, George Lipscombe coming in to partner Fry against Halstead C where Wendy Answell joint Fooks. Darenth took a comfortable 2-0 lead after the opening singles but the doubles was anything but that – the boys found themselves 1-2 down. Clearly a change of tactics was called for and they regrouped to win in five. Fry had his work cut out in the first of the reverse singles and had to come from behind to beat Fooks in five. Lipscombe made sure it was a full house with a win over Ansell.
The closest match was that between Tandridge (O’Gorman/Wright) and Bromley Common E (Rogai/Elliott). The opening singles were shared with a win for Rogai over O’Gorman in straight games and one for Wright over Elliott in four. Bromley Common E took the doubles to lead 2-1. O’Gorman then levelled the match by beating Elliott which left Wright and Rogai to settle the issue. The second and third games were very close but Rogai held firm to take it 12-10.
With Darenth H already acclaimed champions, the issue of the runners up spot took centre stage. South Croydon were ahead by two points so they needed to get two more whilst Darenth had to get four to pip them on the post. Tickner had been looking a little ring rusty earlier but he picked up his game and defeated Levers in four after dropping the first game. Faulkner and Lipscombe had a lengthy battle with Faulkner holding a 2-0 lead. Lipscombe made some extraordinary returns to level but Faulkner made a good start in the fifth and never looked back. That was one of the two South Croydon needed but could they get the second? The doubles eluded them 9-11 in the fifth. Lipscombe began well against Levers and led 2-0 but he caught up to two games all. She made a solid start in the fifth and this stood her in good stead to make it 3-1. By now the other matches were over and it was the classic grandstand finish. Whoever won out of Faulkner and Tickner would mean his team taking the runners up spot. Tickner went out in positive mood and it paid off handsomely for him with a straight games win.
The final table was thus Darenth H 41, Darenth I 32, South Croydon D 31, Halstead C 25, Bromley Common E 16, Tandridge five. Darenth H are worthy champions and their success made it a particularly joyful one for the club with the Junior Development A team claiming the Sarah Dowe Trophy the previous day.
It has been a very keenly fought Division throughout. Darenth H had rocks in the shape of an undefeated George Lipscombe and Eddie Gillhouley, sadly absent at the final with an infected thumb, who had won nine out of 11 sets played. It was a solid foundation for success. South Croydon had been doing well all day but the improvement in the Darenth I team was marked as the season progressed. Sophia Lipscombe, George’s sister, wasn’t so very far behind on 11 out of 15. The Division has had a high proportion of juniors attempting to make their way through but there were some very wise heads in there too and it made for a very interesting competition.