The Braintree Table Tennis League has reached its one-third stage where, apart from a few postponements, all teams have played each other, and a distinct pattern has emerged.
In each of the three divisions, two teams have pulled away from the rest.
Netts A have a nine-point lead in division one but they have played two games more than second-placed Liberal A.
Netts finished off the season’s first phase with an 8-2 win at Rayne C. Keith Martin got the better of Patrick Gilbert, and Simon Fleming, with only two wins behind him so far, had an excellent win over Nikki Davison.
Rayne D, aided by a 10-0 win over Felsted RBL A, jumped above their A team into third place.
The A team beat Netts B 7-3, Netts’ wins all coming from the bat of James Hicks.
Liberal B and Rayne B are within a point of each other in mid table and it was Liberal B who had the better of their tussle when they came together. Matthew Brown took his three singles and the doubles with Ryan Pitt, but Liberal took the remaining six.
Black Notley B and Sible Hedingham are the two teams who have broken away at the top of division two, although Liberal C cannot be discounted, especially if they continue to call on Jon Fieldsend, as they did last week in their 9-1 win over Hedingham Lions.
Sible Hedingham meanwhile slipped back a bit after being held to a draw by Nomads, where they only had two players.
Notley B stretched their lead to five points by beating their own E team, but it was a long evening. The doubles went to 11-9 in the fifth game while Gordon Fairchild had wins at 11-8 in the fifth against Bryan Speller and 13-11 in the fifth against Gary Jackson.
Notley D, second from bottom but well clear of relegation danger, picked up their second win of the season when they beat Rayne E 6-4.
Rayne G and Felsted RBL B are ahead of the pack in division three but neither had an easy time of it last week.
Felsted were held to a draw by Notley H while Rayne sneaked home by 6-4 against Notley F.
Helen Barnett played in both matches, winning two sets for her own H team and another two playing up for the F team where she just missed out in a marathon at 16-14 in the fifth against Tony Stredder.
It was Chris Butler who got the better of her against Felsted, but he fell foul of Jill Canning, who in turn lost to Dean Wood.
Notley’s I and G teams played out a draw, which included a first league win for new signing Hau van Nguyen.
Wins are also normally hard to come by for Roger Hasler but he rose to the occasion for Rayne H against Felsted C where his two wins marked the first time he had outscored his teammates. Felsted won the match 7-3.
Peter Hardy’s win over Ian Rubens was Netts C’s only consolation in their 9-1 defeat by Rayne I.