Last Saturday the Avon County Senior side travelled to Okehampton for the first three matches of the county season. After coming runners-up last season the squad was hopeful for another strong performance. The team included Anthony Kent, Joe Ratajczak, Dave Reeves and Michele Reeves.
The opening match against Cornwall highlighted how tough the division will be. Joe started in fine form against the highly ranked Darren Reed only to miss out 13-11 in the fifth but wins for Dave over Matt Trevorrow (3-1) and Michele, who saved three match points in the fourth, over Kelly Reed (3-2) kept the score close. The much improved Carl Baldry made the difference after he beat Anthony 3-2 and Dave 3-0. A close 3-2 loss for Michele to Rachel Trevorrow meant a 7-3 defeat.
Devon 1sts were relegated from the Premier last season and they proved to be promotion candidates as Avon suffered an 8-2 loss. Dave and Michele had convincing 3-0 wins over Toby Matticott and Naomi Jackson while Dominic Sussex had two close four set wins over Joe and Anthony. Dave also had a tight game with Mike Griffiths and, after fighting back from 10-6 down in the fifth, lost out 13-11. Marketa Myskova gave an excellent display of her trademark defensive skills on her way to beating Michele.
The final match of the day was against Devon 2nds and Avon showed their battling qualities in several close matches. Two narrow four-set wins for Dave over Josh Millman and Ed Haskell showed strategic defence can still overcome topspin. Michele then beat Kelsey Le Maistre 3-0 to avenge the loss from last season. What followed was three 11-9 in the fifth wins which swung the match. Michele took a timely Time Out at 9-5 down in the fifth to Gemma Kerr and then won the next six points! Anthony found his form at just the right time in saving match points against Mike Hugh in the fourth and played superbly to come out on top in a high quality encounter. Then, with the match score at 5-4, Joe took on Josh Millman. The game swung both ways and both players had the lead in the fifth only for Joe to edge out victorious and give Avon a much needed 6-4 win.
The next three matches will be held in January near Southampton and we hope for at least a couple of wins to secure our status in Division 1 for next season.