Black Notley I have jumped to the top of division three of the Braintree Table Tennis League to become the third team to head the table this season.
They caught up on their match in hand by playing twice in three days and won both convincingly, 8-2 against Rayne H and 9-1 over Notley H.
The last-minute addition of the experienced Peter Pond and the impressively good form of cadet Elliot Game in his first league season have made a nonsense of their rating as the lowest of the Notley teams.
Pond, who has played at higher levels in the Southend and Brentwood leagues, has lost only once – to Dave Allinson – in his 18 sets and won all six he played last week.
Game, who now has 11 wins out of 15, did not play against Notley H but won his three singles against Rayne H.
Elliot’s father Peter was also unbeaten against Notley H.
Notley I take over the lead from their F team, who had a close match against Rayne F, the team just below them, before losing 6-4.
Declan Baines and Mel Cooch won two each for Notley F while Allinson and Brian How had similar records for Rayne F.
Netts E have jumped above both of them into second place with a 9-1 win over Rayne I in which Peter Lewis and Jimmy Calisin were unbeaten.
In their second match of the week, Rayne H beat Notley G 7-3 with both Ian Rubens and Dave Whiting unbeaten.
Mia Charles, girls’ singles champion in 2014 and 2017, won her first sets in the league in Netts F’s match with Rayne G. She won twice but Tim Townsend’s unbeaten hand ensured that Rayne shared the points.
Netts D retained the leadership of division two after their two-man team of Joe Meleschko and Patrick Gilbert took all seven sets available in their match against Felsted RBL A but Liberal C drew closer with a 10-0 win over Notley E.
Notley C’s surge up the table was halted when they came across Nomads’ strongest team of Ken Lewis, Richard Kemp and Kevin Saunders.
Lewis inflicted the first defeat of the season on Dan Anderson to help his team to a 7-3 win.
Notley D stayed in fourth place with a 9-1 win over Felsted B while Rayne D are fifth after an 8-2 win over their own E team, including a good win for Richard Whiteside over Dave Marsh, who had been beaten only once before.
There were some close encounters in division one, and none closer than Brandon Crouchman’s 19-17-in-the-fifth-game win over Maria Boulton in Liberal A’s 8-2 win over Netts B.
Rayne A eased a couple of points further ahead at the top with a 10-0 win over Notley B where only the doubles – with the slightly curious scoreline of 11-13, 11-13, 12-10, 12-10, 11-4 – went to five games.
Lee McHugh and Steve Pennell were on duty in that set.
McHugh and Adam Buxton, who also played, now lead the season’s individual averages, of those who have played more than two matches.
Alistair Hill’s win over Dave Punt was almost as close as Crouchman’s, the Netts C player scraping home 11-9, 7-11, 2-11, 11-8, 17-15 to help his team to a 6-4 win over Rayne C.
Rayne’s consolation is that they are now equal on points with Notley B at the foot of the table.
Liberal B’s impressive form continues. They won for the fifth time out of six, 6-4 against a Notley A side that included Steve Kerns.
Netts have entered a women’s team in the British League this season and have started with a bang, winning all five of their matches over the first weekend.
They had two 6-0 wins, one 5-1 and two at 4-2.
They were represented by their regular players Nikki Davison and Maria Boulton, as well as Lucy Wang, on Notley’s books last season but not playing in Braintree this year, and current Clacton ladies’ singles champion Gracie Edwards, the Essex junior No.2.
Wang won six out of six at the weekend while Davison came close to following suit and was thwarted only at 13-11 in the fifth by Katie Bates of Ormesby 2.