It was a battle of the table tennis heavyweights in Division One of the Clacton and District League with six of the League's leading players involved in the Nomads Panthers v Windsor Condors top-of-the-table clash. But it was the lightest, slightest and youngest of the heavyweights, fifteen-year old Sam Hume, who produced the champion performance.
Sam notched an impressive treble with fine wins over Colin Stallwood, Greg Green and Martin Hogg, his 11-7, 11-7, 7-11, 11-5 win over the previously-unbeaten Stallwood avenging his defeat in the 2015 Closed Championships Mens Singles final.
Team-mate James Denyer weighed in with two excellent wins over Stallwood and Hogg but he couldn't get the better of Green, the Condors' most successful player on the night. Green took two and was involved in the only match that went the distance, defeating Colin Webber 6-11, 8-11, 11-8, 11-5, 11-3.
With Green and Stallwood taking the doubles for the Condors against Hume and Webber, the match appropriately ended all-square.
As a point of interest, it was refreshing to see four locally-produced players - Hogg and Stallwood from a previous generation, and Denyer and Hume of current vintage, involved in such an elite clash.
The Condors remain fifth but are still closely-involved in the fight for the runners-up spot, despite the other three contenders recording convincing wins.
Windsor Eagles had the best result, Gary Cattermole, Mark Smith and Phil Smith unbeaten in the 10-0 win over Walton B. But the result belied a hard-fought match, Cattermole and Mark Smith taking the doubles 12-14, 12-10, 12-14, 11-5, 11-4 against Gavin Price and Colin Dearman, whilst Mark Smith had a narrow 5-11, 11-5, 11-3, 6-11, 16-14 win over Dearman.
Windsor Hawks recorded a comfortable 9-1 victory over a Nomads Lions' team forced to field two reserves. Felipe Rodriguez and Andy Vincent recorded customary hat-tricks whilst skipper John Barton's two wins included an 11-8, 9-11, 12-10, 8-11, 11-7 success against reserve Roger Hance. Adam Wilkin was the Lions' only points-winner.
Jason Gale produced his best form of the season and, along with Derek Willis, remained undefeated in Walton C's 8-2 success against Windsor Kestrels. Walton took three of the four matches that went the distance, Willis defeating Dave Martin, Paul Meikle defeating Graham Bunce and, in the closest of these victories, Gale beating Bob Sawyer 11-8, 10-12, 7-11, 11-8, 13-11. For the Kestrels, Sawyer had a surprisingly straightforward win over Meikle and, with Bunce, shared a tight 7-11, 6-11, 12-10, 11-6, 14-12 doubles win against Willis and Gale.
Brotherhood B beat a two-man Brotherhood C 9-1. Both Gracie Edwards and David North won their two matches, with North and John Owen taking the doubles 3-11, 4-11, 11-7, 11-5, 16-14 against Kevin Pryor and Fred Gallone. Pryor enjoyed an 11-6, 7-11, 5-11, 11-6, 11-7 victory over John Owen to take the 'B' team's consolation point.
There were wins for the top three teams in Division Two.
Windsor Owls were 9-1 victors over a Nomads Jaguars' side hampered by an injury to Cris Edwards in the first match of the evening which forced her to retire hurt. Andrew North's 11-7, 5-11, 7-11, 11-8, 11-6 win over Tricia Salter was the Jaguars' only success although they nearly sneaked another, Tricia and Mark Salter scraping the doubles 6-11, 7-11, 11-7, 11-3, 11-9 against North and Kevin Hume.
Trebles from John Marshall and Daryl Lott were the backbone of Nomads Tigers' 8-2 success against bottom-side Windsor Magpies, the two players also combining to take the doubles 11-6, 8-11, 11-8, 10-12, 11-5 against John Plummer and Dave Sweetland. Plummer and Sweetland took a point apiece for the losers whilst Dan Wright will feel unfortunate not to have taken a third, John Bonner winning their individual match 6-11, 12-10, 11-9, 5-11, 11-4.
Paul Hewitt was Lawford's unbeaten hero as the out-of-towners beat Windsor Harriers 6-4, a reverse of their early-season meeting. Richard Spence won two and Ian Sherwood one in an encounter where only two matches were extended to a fourth set, and in which there was only one deuce score.
The mid-table, all-Brotherhood clash saw the 'I' side beat the 'H' side 7-3. It was a good all-round team performance from the winners, Maurice Hardy taking three, Mark Beckham two and Jonathan Found one, with Beckham and Found combining to take an exciting doubles 9-11, 11-7, 11-6, 7-11, 15-13 against Graham Parkes and James Smith-Daye. Parkes won twice for the losers.
The most unexpected result came from Nomads Bobcats who eased their relegation worries big-time with a massive 9-1 victory over Windsor Buzzards. Tony Robinson and Doug Green took trebles and Tony Beezer won two. The Buzzards only point came from the bat of Pete Bloomfield who defeated Beezer 11-5, 5-11, 11-5, 6-11, 11-8.
In Division Three leaders Nomads Pumas defeated Nomads Wildcats 6-4 for a second time this season. Eric Lemke recorded yet another hat-trick for the winners whilst there were a couple each for Brian Friday and Andrew Cawley for the losers. Cawley was involved in the closest match of the evening, edging out Pumas' captain Lionel Goddard 11-7, 13-11, 9-11, 8-11, 11-7.
Windsor Penguins got back to winning ways with a 6-4 success against Nomads Cougars, Harry Barlow, Jackie Bunce and Alan Charman all winning twice. For the Cougars, Mike Hillier stayed unbeaten and shared an 11-9, 9-11, 16-14, 11-5 doubles win with Zoe Strange against Barlow and Charman. The crucial match proved to be the only one that went to five, Barlow defeating Strange 11-7, 11-6, 7-11, 6-11, 11-8 in the opening encounter of the evening.
It was also 6-4 as Nomads Ocelots defeated Windsor Ospreys but, once again, the hat-trick man was on the losing side, Woody Fitzpatrick undefeated for the Ospreys. Maci Harvey took the fourth Windsor point with a narrow 11-7, 6-11, 11-9, 9-11, 13-11 win over Dave Wright. For the Ocelots, Tom Collins and Scott Campbell each won two and Wright one. The match also witnessed Viv Rodriguez's first appearance of the season for the Ospreys.
Hat-tricks from Jason Lloyd and Ethan Lloyd saw Nomads Leopards to a 9-1 success against Windsor Swallows. Roger McNaughton won twice but went down to the Swallows' solitary points' scorer, Kayley Lamb.
Finally, Nomads Lynx and Windsor Kites fought out an honourable draw. Cameron Cini and Liam Harris each one two for the Lynx with Barbara Rogers contributing an important and morale-boosting point. For the Kites, Chris Simson took his three, Mick Simson one, and the pair combined to take the doubles against Cini and Harris. Only one match went the distance, but it was a nail-biting affair, Harris beating Mick Simson 8-11, 11-8, 8-11, 11-3, 16-14.
* The Windsor Quiz Evening takes place on Saturday 20th February at St James' Hall, Clacton-on-Sea, 7.30 pm for an 8.00 pm start. Table nibbles will be provided, as will tea and coffee. Participants should bring their other drinks if required. The cost is £5.00 per person, which includes a raffle, for teams of up to six people. For more details and to enter a team, contact Jenny Higgins on 01255 432397 or 07790 240566, or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.
Windsor Hawks 9 Nomads Lions 1;
Windsor Kestrels 2 Walton C 8;
Brotherhood B 9 Brotherhood C 1;
Nomads Panthers 5 Windsor Condors 5;
Walton B 0 Windsor Eagles 10.
Windsor Magpies 2 Nomads Tigers 8;
Brotherhood H 3 Brotherhood I 7;
Windsor Harriers 4 Lawford 6;
Nomads Jaguars 1 Windsor Owls 9;
Nomads Bobcats 9 Windsor Buzzards 1.
Nomads Leopards 9 Windsor Swallows 1;
Nomads Lynx 5 Windsor Kites 5;
Nomads Pumas 6 Nomads Wildcats 4;
Windsor Ospreys 4 Nomads Ocelots 6;
Windsor Penguins 6 Nomads Cougars 4.