The handicap cup lived up to its reputation for unpredictability in the Braintree Table Tennis League.
Of the nine matches played in round one, four were won by the lower division team and two by a team from a higher division. In the three matches between teams from the same division, the higher placed team won two.
Rayne D and Sible Hedingham were the only division one teams to win through to the second round (together with Black Notley A, who had a bye).
Liberal B had only two players to face Rayne D and two wins from Robin Armstrong and one from Mike Johnston were not enough.
Paul Lombardi, still getting used to life in division one, took advantage of his handicap of +8 (up to 21) to beat both of them.
Hedingham also had only two players, but Mark Brown and Tom Brown were able to rack up the necessary five wins between them against Notley I.
It was not easy, though. Two of those wins came at 21-19 in the third game and one at 23-21.
Four second division teams came through.
Unbeaten hands from David Razzell and Gary Jackson helped leaders Notley C to an 8-1 win over fellow second division outfit Liberal C, for whom Barry Evans notched up the one.
Second-placed Notley B registered the same scoreline against third division Rayne G. Dave Parker and Sean Clift coped with handicaps ranging from -8 to -12 to remain unbeaten.
Notley D, languishing at the wrong end of the table, had a more than satisfactory evening against first division Rayne B, where Adam Clift, Peter Foster and Bruce Wickham won all nine.
Hedingham Lions are the other division two team through, but theirs was a more typical cup tie seesaw in which they came back from 4-2 down to win 5-4.
All six players in action won at least one and lost at least one, and it was the double successes from Clare Johnson and Adam Purslow that saw them through.
Netts D, second from bottom of division three, overcame last season’s divisional winners Felsted B 7-2. Joe Belsom and Max Plumridge were unbeaten.
Felsted’s C team, hoping to succeed their B team to the division three title, came through unscathed against a hybrid Rayne C team, consisting of Richard Whiteside, from division one, and his sons Scott and Jake, neither of whom yet plays regular league table tennis.
Paul Martin won all three and Martin Bragoli two out of two in Notley G’s 5-2 win over division one Rayne A.