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Stowmarket Jaguars 5 - 5 Bury Normans -
22/11/2017 - Terry Betts -
Following my recent knee op I was unable to undertake my usual ITFC duties at Portman Road , but it gave me the unexpected pleasure of attending another of the Jaguars friendly but competitive encounters with the Bury Normans guys.
First up for Jaguars was the in form Mark Beaumont against Norman’s stalwart Goran Gelevski. Mark took the first two games 11-4,11-5 with his spin and service variation prevailing over Goran’s attacking drives. Goran came back strongly taking the next two with almost identical scores and into a close decider of long rallies Goran put Normans ahead with a 11-9 victory.
Next up, Jaguars Ray Perry took met Norman’s second stalwart – Neil Talbot, who has played with Goran for Normans for 14 years. Encouraged by his team mate’s success Neil took the lead after a tentative first game. Both players opened out with some powerful hitting in the second with Neil taking a 9-5 lead, Ray pulled back to level on nine but Neil took a two game lead with more sound attacking. A determined Ray took an early lead in the third, Neil equalised 8-8 but solid defending from Ray gave him a 11-8 victory. Both players opted for a very defensive push game in the fourth with Ray coming out on top with a narrow 12-10. So again a fifth leg decider – we began to look at the clock. Early points of the decider were shared, Ray changing ends at 5-4 up, but from then produced some spin serve variations that took him to a 11-5 victory for Jaguars.
The third match featured in form experienced Andy Bennett for Jaguars against fast improving young Sam Taylor for Normans and what a classic it turned out to be. Yet again it went the full distance and both players entertained us with a quality match.
They had success with forehand and backhand top spin attack throughout, but Andy triumphed in the first with superb service variation. Sam replied taking the next two legs 11-9 as the two continued to openly trade spin, defence and attack. Andy levelled to two games all with a 11-8 victory to take it to a decider. Sam built up an impressive 7-3 lead but Andy took the next six point to lead 9-7 before almost inevitably the match went to deuce where Andy finally emerged a winner 14-12 to put Jaguars 2-1 up.
Not surprisingly the Teams moved to two tables - it led to both matches being won in straight sets. First Ray had three close games, battled well , but found Goran’s more aggressive style just too good for him going down 11-9,11-9,11-9 to make the match scores 2-2. On the other table Andy had just too much spin and power to account for Neil 11-6, 11-6, 11-8 to put Jaguars 3-2 in the lead.
The Normans were soon back level when Sam had an outstanding straight sets 11-8,11-7,11-8 win over Mark with some patient chop defence and well timed forehand top spin forehand winners.
Sam returned to the table to take on Ray and won the first game comfortably 11-4, but Ray dug in with some solid defence to level it 11-7. The game of vastly contrasting styles was now very tight with Ray’s determined defensive style restricting Sam’s spin and power. Sam edged the third on deuce and remarkably repeated the same score 12-10 in the fourth, each time with forehand smash hits to put Normans 4-3 ahead in the match.
Then up stepped the two most experienced friendly rivals Andy and Goran for what as usual turned out to be a battle royal. Both were eager to get on the front foot and attack. Andy took the first 11-5 but Goran levelled with a great 13-11 victory in the second. The next two all action games were shared once again inevitably leading to a decider. The game continued to be played with a high tempo and Andy’s all round consistency was just enough to take the tie to again level the match score.
Mark and Neil took to the table for last singles. Mark took the first game with his usual patient defensive style 11-8 and opened up a two leg gap with a second. Neil rallied well in the third realising he had to curb his usual urge to attack and matched Mark’s patience to take the third 11-9 and continued with determination and concentration to edge the fourth on deuce to take us into a decider once again. Mark took the first six points to break Neil’s resistance and took the game 11-2 to put the Jaguars back into the lead.
The Normans pair Goran and Sam came out in the doubles to take the game to the Jaguars Andy and Ray. In an entertaining open first leg the Normans just triumphed 11-9 but the Jaguars immediately bounced back with a 11-3 in the second leg, but with Goran and Sam the far more consistent pairing in the next two legs the Normans deservedly sealed a victory and fittingly a match score of 5-5 during a thoroughly enjoyable evening.