It would be too much to hope to equal last season’s epic title race in the Braintree Table Tennis League where the top two finished level on points, but the battle for honours in the current season, which starts this week, could be fought out by as many as four teams.
Champions Netts A and runners-up Liberal A will both be weaker this season.
Netts have lost Kevin Gowlett, who has moved to Clacton, while Peter Hayden is expecting to play less often for last year’s runners-up Liberal A.
As a result Netts will be relying on Paul Davison, Alistair Hill and James Mullane to retain their title with Ian Hayden, Scott Dowsett and Simon Webber again turning out for Liberal.
Clearly some reserves are likely to be called into action, which could lead to Netts’ B team coming into the frame. They include Nikki Davison, John Cleasby and Andy Holmes from last year’s A team.
And one can never rule out Rayne A, with the tried and tested formula of Jon Hill, Steve Pennell and Ian Whiteside, with back-up from John Andrews and Steve Elmes. They were second two years ago and at the least can expect to finish far closer to the top spot than last season.
Netts have added a third team in division one, pushing the number of teams in the league up to 31. James Hicks and Graham Farmer, from last year’s B team, plus Steve Buer will form the nucleus of this one.
Liberal’s B team, Rayne B and D and Black Notley A can expect to occupy the middle ground but Sible Hedingham, promoted after one year in division two, will be hoping to avoid the bottom slot that was theirs for the previous three years.
With Richard Jennings expecting to be able to play more regularly, they will have their sights on Rayne C, second from bottom for the last two years and only three points ahead of Hedingham in 2014.
Rayne C have lost Simon Fleming, who has moved to Cornwall, and have promoted Nick Hasler, who returned to the game after a lengthy absence last year, but who is likely to find the step up from division three to be a sizeable one.