For a team with long-established top-flight players, it's been surprising to see Walton C flirting with the prospect of relegation in Division One of the Clacton and District League. But, after an important 7-3 victory over bottom side Brotherhood D this week, they can head into the holiday break in more optimistic mood.
Number one player Peter Burrows took his three whilst there were two wins for Graham Buxton and one for Paul Newbould, although Buxton's 15-13, 11-9, 7-11, 9-11, 12-10 success against Scott Campbell was a close-run thing.
Russell Hillier was Brotherhood's best player, his two victories including an 11-8 in the fifth success over Buxton, whilst Campbell contributed an 11-5 in the fifth victory against Newbould.
So Walton's first win of the season lifts them eight points clear of the relegation zone and, although Brotherhood D remain bottom, it edges them to within just two points of Windsor Kestrels, the team immediately above them.
In the only other League match played, Brotherhood B fielded a guest against Nomads Lions and went down 7-3. For the Lions, Adam Cuthbert and Ethan Lloyd both had excellent victories over Martin Edwards and John Cleasby, Lloyd's 6-11, 11-7, 7-11, 12-10, 13-11 win against Edwards the pick of the games.
* In Group One of the Division Three Handicap Challenge
Brotherhood G took the honours by the narrowest of 5-4 margins over Windsor Swallows, Dave Hunt unbeaten in his two singles.
John Gallagher and Mark Beckham won one each whilst Beckham and Hunt shared a doubles success.
For the Swallows, Iris Howlett defied the years to take her two singles, whilst Mark Lamb took both his doubles in partnership with Howlett and Dianne Self. The deciding encounter of the evening was match eight with Hunt (-5) defeating Self (+1) 11-6 in the fifth.
Nomads Pumas had an unfortunate late player call-off and thus conceded four points automatically to Nomads Ocelots but they were grateful to Paul Dale for standing in as a non-point-counting guest. Alan Dockerill of the Pumas proved the tie's most successful player, winning both his singles and sharing a doubles victory with Lionel Goddard.
But the Ocelots still took the match 6-3, Arthur Wells-Garrett and Dominic Joannou each adding a singles win, Joannou (+1) just edging past Goddard(-1) 11-7 in the decider.
In Group Two, Windsor Penguins made it two wins out of two in the competition following a comprehensive 8-1 win over Nomads Caracals. Alan Charman and Sue Chillingworth both won two singles, and Jackie Bunce one, with the Windsor side taking all three doubles. Yasmin Ticquet took the Caracals' consolation point.
Brotherhood J and Nomads Lynx enjoyed a ding-dong battle before Brotherhood, having won three of the four matches which went the distance, took the match 5-4. Dan Still and Maci Harvey each won two singles, and Harley Wood one.
Harvey (+1) beat Dave Harris (-5) 11-0, 12-14, 5-11, 11-5, 11-8 in the closest of her two five-set victories whilst Wood (-1) had an even closer 6-11, 5-11, 12-10, 11-6, 12-10 victory over Cameron Cini (+1).
However, Cini, Liam Harris and Dave Harris Cini showed their proficiency in doubles by taking all three doubles on offer, Dave Harris and Cini (-1) taking the opening tie 11-9 in the decider against Wood and Harvey (+1). Liam Harris also picked up a singles win for the Lynx.
* In Round One of the Handicap Knock-Out Cup, Division Two Brotherhood E made it through against Third Division Windsor Kites.
Brotherhood's Rodney Betts and Cris Edwards (-5) took the opening doubles 11-7 in the fifth against Carl Hubbard and Mick Simson (+1) before the Kites took an early lead, winning the next two singles - Chris Simson (+1) edged past Duncan Dunne (-3) 14-12 in the fifth and Hubbard (+1) took it 11-9 in the fifth against Edwards (-3).
But Brotherhood took the following four matches to run out 5-2 winners, Betts ending unbeaten on the night in his two singles and one doubles.
Brotherhood E now face another Division Three side, Brotherhood J, in Round Two whilst Second Division Walton D, who had a walk-over in the only other Round One tie, also meet Division Three opposition in Windsor Swallows.
Brotherhood D 3 Walton C 7;
Nomads Lions 7 Brotherhood B 3.
Division 3 Handicap Challenge
Windsor Swallows 4 Brotherhood G 5;
Nomads Pumas 3 Nomads Ocelots 6.
Windsor Penguins 8 Nomads Caracals 1;
Brotherhood J 5 Nomads Lynx 4.
Handicap Knock-Out Cup : Round 1
Windsor Kites 2 Brotherhood E 5
Walton D (walk-over) v Nomads Leopards