Fifteen-year-old Nick Butler has made a big impact on his Braintree Table Tennis League division two debut this season, but nothing will have given him more pleasure than his results against Hedingham Lions.
Not only did he win his three singles for the first time, but he did so when his father Ian and older brother Ashley failed.
Ian and Ashley both found Adam Purslow too hard to handle but Nick found the answer for the second time this season when he came back from two games to one down to win at 11-8 in the fifth.
He has now won exactly one-third of his sets, an impressive record considering he only averaged 39 per cent in division three last season.
He also joined his father in a doubles victory to give Felsted RBL A an 8-2 win.
At the top of the division, Black Notley C coped without either Glen Laing or Gary Jackson in beating Felsted B 10-0. Tim Huxtable, Bryan Speller and reserve Keith Flowers were on duty.
Notley B’s hold on second place, which had been loosened after two defeats, finally gave way when they lost a third successive match, this time to Rayne E. The two had been level on points before the match but Rayne’s 6-4 win takes them two points clear.
Gordon Fairchild won his three singles for Notley.
Liberal C remain very much in the hunt for the runners-up spot and they moved ahead of Nomads by beating them 7-3.
Nomads had both Richard Kemp and Kevin Saunders in action, but Liberal are a tough proposition when Jon Fieldsend joins Gareth Davies and Garry Fryatt.
Davies won his three singles, Fieldsend two and Fryatt one.
With six players in their squad Rayne F’s fortunes also fluctuate but they had a strong team out against Notley D and triumphed 8-2. Dave Marsh stretched his unbeaten run to 20 sets.
In division one, leaders Liberal A were not in action, which enabled Netts A to take advantage of their match in hand. They beat Rayne D 9-1 and are now only five points off the lead.
James Hicks, playing up from the B team, joined Paul Davison in winning three singles, while Adam Buxton’s win over James Mullane was Rayne D’s only success.
Netts C had only Nikki Davison and Andy Holmes available for their match with Rayne A, but three wins from Davison and two from Holmes enabled them to share the points.
Rayne B, with three wins from Dean Andrews and Ryan Pitt, beat their own C team 8-2 while Notley A had a surprisingly comfortable 10-0 win over Sible Hedingham.
Andrew Huckson registered his first unbeaten evening of the season.
After inexorably creeping up on them for the last few weeks, Felsted C have at last overtaken Notley E at the head of division three – and they have a match in hand.
Felsted had an 8-2 win over Notley F in which Matthew Laws was the only one to get the better of Vernon King, which he did impressively 11-2, 11-5, 11-7. He won his other two 11-4, 11-9, 11-8 and 11-3, 11-5, 11-5 and has now lost only two of his last 24 sets.
Notley E had to call up two reserves against Rayne G, who also included a reserve, and both Mike Smith and 16-year-old Ewan Phillipson chipped in with a singles to help their team to a 6-4 win.
Netts D have risen off the bottom after registering only their second win of the season –against Notley G, the team they beat first time round.
His team may have lost 7-3 but the match was a personal milestone for Liam Ebbs, new to competitive table tennis this season, who scored his first hat-trick of wins.
Notley H slipped below Netts after losing by the same score to their own I team.
The I team’s Jamie Brooks, 15, is another junior in form. His three wins took his total to 15 in his last 18 singles.
Rayne also had two of their teams facing each other, the H team emerging on the right side of a 6-4 scoreline against the I team. Shirley Carroll was unbeaten.