League action took a back seat this week, and was replaced by the team handicap event with the sixteen teams who came through the first round fighting for places in the last eight. Ruckinge E (Div 3) where the first team through with the benefit of a walkover, as Sportsmen C (Div 4) were unable to field a team for the match.
Their clubs mates, Sportsmen A (Div 2), also dropped out against Ashford TT C (Div 4). Over ten legs up to 25 the Ashford side won by a mere 3 points. The Ashford team of Mick Rashford, Bob Young, and Jenny Swain won eight of the first ten legs, and on those they lost the Sportsmen side were only able to claw back a single point in each. At the half way stage Ashford has built up a healthy 25 point lead, but were by no means safe. Dennis Brindley of Sportsmen then began to peg back some of the points against Jenny Swain, both were awarded the same handicap to started level before Dennis began to pull away and in effect halving the lead held by Ashford over first five encounters. Howard Brightling then started well against Bob Young despite a starting score of 14-4 Howard was able to take the first leg 25-21 reducing the Ashford lead to single digits. However Bob fought back strongly and took the second leg 25-13 and extended Ashford’s lead back up to 21 points. Despite Douglas Ho then beating Jenny Swain, and Dennis winning the first leg against Mick Radford, Sportsmen were unable to claw back the advantage and trailed by 22 points going into the doubles. The effect being they had to go for a big win and take a few more risks, but the Ashford duo of Mick and Jenny won both legs over Douglas and Howard (25-21, 25-19), and run out 33 point winners for a place in the Quarter Finals.
The juniors of Ashford TT E (Div 4) were also in action, and had the benefit of starting on the maximum possible handicaps. They were up against the experienced Ruckinge B (Div 2). George Patten started with a 16-2 advantage over Mike Holiday and started brightly with excellent retrieval skills and some awkward attacking forehands. But the Ruckinge player began to make inroads with some his spin serves and more selective attacks finally running out winner (25-21, 25-19). Andy Charley then produced a very composed defence against the ‘unique’ style of Ian Bewick (standing in for evening). In a very see-saw game Ian won the first leg 25-21, but Any snuck in to win 25-24 in the second leg. In the final encounter Chris Cloake started a mere 18-1 down on Arthur Burroughs, and early on the handicap seemed to favour the youngster match Chris point for point initial before Chris found his range, and restricted his young opponents opportunities to attack. But the final score keep the match tight with Chris winning through 25-22, 25-21. This gave Ruckinge a 20 point lead after the first three encounters. This pattern continued with Mike edging past Arthur by 6 points, Chris adding another 4 points by beating George, and Ian proving his style was working and adding a further 11 points. Six games in Ashford has only registered positive points in one leg, and Ruckinge had amassed a 41 point lead and were looking confident. However Andy Charley had a different view, and with his flat hitting reduced Chris to just five points, after starting 18-1 ahead he raced through 25-5, and took the second 25-16 with a later rally from Chris helping to reduce his deficit but a healthy 41 point lead was now just 12 points. Mike was able to add five points back on with a win over Arthur before George and Ian shared their match 25-24, 24-25! This meant Ashford needed to restrict Ruckinge to 16 points a leg in the doubles to overhaul the away side. However doubles is a different animal to singles, and the Ashford side showed their limited experience with Chris and Mike coming back from 17-1 down to win the first leg 23-25 meaning just 7 points were needed in the second leg to win the match. To their credit the Ashford side fought well, and left their more senior opponents hitting air a few times but it was too little too late in the end and Ashford lost the leg 24-25 (although this could easily have been the other way with a little more composure from Arthur on the last shot.
Ruckinge D (Div 3) were up against Iron Room A (Div 2), with the Division 3 side holding healthy advantages by virtue of their handicaps. It all started well with Ray Quinn Taking nine points of Keith Harris, only to see Simon Dale lose ten points to Mike Lee giving the Iron Room side a one points lead! Mike Butcher then took an outstanding win against Robert Huntley, winning the second leg 25-9 (starting at 16-2). This was then followed up with Ray Quinn sharing two legs with Mike Lee, but Ray still took a healthy eight points for the Ruckinge side. Keith Harris and Mike Butcher managed to cancel each other out with neither gaining an advantage over the two legs. However the slow points build up meant by Ruckinge meant that despite Mike Lee wining 9 points back from Mike Butcher, Iron Room were heading for a 52 point defeat.
Postling A, one of only three remaining division 1 sides, were undone by a handicap advantage for Little Chart Posties (Div 3). Little Chart are looking to retain the title they won by a single point last year. On the form shown in this match, and a convincing 65 point win, it will take a lot of stop them doing so.
Challock D (Div 3) entertained Ruckinge C (Div 2), and it was a very tight affair with both sides winning five encounters but the match was decided on just two encounters. Martin Maker took seventeen points off Richard Wright, and Richard Mummery took fourteen points off Terry Yeomans. All other matches were decided by less than ten points, and were shared equally. Going into the doubles Challock were leading by 17 points leaving Martin Baker and Dave Tawny a bit of work still to do were playing against Richard Wright and Clive Devlin. The first leg went the way of Ruckinge, with Richard and Clive wining 25-21, thus reducing the deficit to 13 points. But with the Challock side starting 13-2 ahead in the final leg they could only win the final leg 25-13. So the final leg was purely for pride, and Ruckinge fought to the end taking back another two points. But it is Challock proceeding to the final round courtesy of an 11 point win.
Elsewhere Challock A (Div 1) were entertaining Ruckinge E (Div 3). Unfortunately it was not a happy night for the Division 1 side, and possibly grounds for a handicap review. Ruckinge E rushed through the night with the loss of two legs. It was clear clash of styles, but credit of the Ruckinge team of Nigel Woodward, Ian Tomlin and Helen Mattock who thrashed the Challock side of Lee Hirst, Chris Senior and Tim Pichowski by 174 points.
At the time of writing the result of Challock C (Div 1) and Ashford B (Div 2), but this promised to be the closely matched affair based on the relative standards of the teams.
As it stands Ruckinge E, Ashford TT C, Challock D, Ruckinge B, Ruckinge D, Little Chart Posties, and Ruckinge E all enter to the pot for the next round.
For full fixtures, tables, and the Quarter Final draw please visit www.tabletennis365.com/Ashford