Rayne D have emerged as the surprise team in division one of the Braintree Table Tennis League.
Eighth in the table last season, they have started with a flourish this year and have won their first four matches.
They followed up wins over Rayne’s B and C teams, which logic suggests they should not have won, with an even better one over 2013 champions Netts B.
Nor was it a negligible Netts team as it included both James Hicks and Maria Boulton, integral parts of the squad that won the title.
But Hector Rogers, Brian Riedling and Richard Storey rose to the occasion to record an excellent 6-4 win, and that included fluffing their lines in the doubles, which they lost after leading by two games to nil.
Netts A and Liberal A are also unbeaten.
Netts overcame a potentially difficult hurdle when they beat Rayne A, last year’s runners-up, 7-3.
The match marked the return to the league of Paul Lucas, men’s singles runner-up in 1997 and 1998, but he was no match for Paul Davison and Kevin Gowlett, who retained their own unbeaten records.
Liberal A beat Rayne B 7-3, with Ian Hayden unbeaten, while their B team overcame Rayne’s C team by the same score.
There were two firsts in Black Notley A’s 8-2 win over Felsted RBL A. It was Notley’s first win of the season and the first time that Felsted had won more than one set.
Ian Butler scored good wins over Andrew Huckson and Guy McKenzie, but could do little about Chris Parr.
Liberal C, second last season, suffered their first defeat in division two when they went down 7-3 to Nomads. Nomads’ seven all came from the bats of Kevin Saunders and Richard Kemp.
Notley B have jumped above Sible Hedingham at the top after their 8-2 win over Notley C while Hedingham were restricted to 6-4 against Rayne F.
Victor Chan was unbeaten for Notley and Richard Jennings for Hedingham.
Rayne E turned out a team of Daves to deal with Notley E. Dave Miller and Dave Punt were unbeaten in their 8-2 win, while Dave Moles lost one singles – to the fourth Dave in the match, Notley’s Dave Razzell.
Notley’s D team picked up their first win of the season, but it was a close run 6-4 against bottom team Hedingham Lions, who scored twice as many points as they had accumulated in their first four matches.
Clare Johnson, Adam Purslow and Nick Readhead all picked up one singles for Lions.
Division three’s top two teams came up against each other and Felsted B maintained their three-point lead over Rayne G by holding them to a draw.
But the win of the week came from Notley H’s Helen Barnett, who became the first person to beat Paul Lombardi.
Lombardi, now with Rayne I, finished in the top ten in division two five years ago and his return to the game so far has suggested that he has lost little of the flair that took him there.
But Barnett had his measure in three straight games 11-9, 13-11, 11-8.
The match finished in a draw.
Close behind for performance of the week was Kierlan Richards of Netts C. New to the game this season, he turned in an excellent performance to beat the experienced Tim Townsend, of Rayne H, who had won ten of his 11 sets so far.
And he did it the hard way. All looked lost when he tumbled 11-7, 11-2 in the first two games, but he persevered and won the next three 11-7, 11-8, 12-10.