There were plenty of close matches and exciting ties in this week's Round Two of the Handicap Knock-Out Cup of the Clacton and District League.
Pride of place goes to Second Division side Windsor Buzzards, Pete Bloomfield, Ray Chillingworth and Alan Rutledge enjoying unexpected success with a narrow 5-4 win over top-flight Walton B. Although taking only two of the singles, the Buzzards crucially won all three doubles, the most crucial being the 11-6, 11-4, 7-11, 9-11, 11-8 win in the middle doubles for Bloomfield and Rutledge (+1) over Colin Dearman and Paul Meikle (-6). Dearman and Jason Gale each won two singles for the losers, Gale's (-5) 12-10 in the fifth victory over Bloomfield (+1) in match seven giving Walton a 4-3 match lead - only for the Buzzards to take the final two matches.
There were five all-Division One ties and all five produced hard-fought contests.
The pick of the bunch was the encounter of the League's top two teams, Nomads Panthers and Windsor Condors, which ended as a 5-3 victory for the Condors over the reigning Cup-holders. With the score at 3-all, the tie was in the balance but Ollie Rampton (+2) enjoyed an important 7-11, 11-4, 11-4, 12-10 win over James Denyer (-3) before Annabelle Stallwood (+2) defeated John Hatley (-6) 7-11, 11-13, 11-9, 11-9, 11-5 to win the tie for the Condors.
Sam Hume, back briefly from university, made a first appearance of the season for the Panthers and showed he'd lost none of his form by taking a couple of singles wins. But he was out-shone on the night by thirteen-year old Rampton who stayed unbeaten in his two singles and one doubles.
Brotherhood D were forced to field reserve Harley Wood against Walton A but regulars Russell Hillier and Scott Campbell were able to achieve their narrow 5-4 victory without her efforts, each winning two singles and sharing a doubles victory. The match see-sawed all the way through with four of the matches going the distance. Walton's Paul Woolnough (-8) defeated Wood (+2) 11-7 in the fifth in match eight to level the tie before Hillier and Campbell (+1) beat Gavin Price and Kevin James (-6) 11-7, 113-15, 8-11, 11-3, 11-5 in the final match of the evening. Although Wood failed to get on the score-sheet, she provided sufficient nuisance value to keep her opponents occupied, three of her four matches going to five.
Gary Cattermole was the difference in the clash between Windsor Eagles and Walton C, the Windsor player staying unbeaten in both singles and doubles to lead his side to a narrow 5-4 success in a match where there was never more than a point between the two sides. Paul Newbould was Walton's best player, winning two singles and one doubles.
There was yet another 5-4 result as Nomads Lions edged out Windsor Hawks in another match which see-sawed throughout. Ethan Lloyd won two vital singles including (on +1) an 11-9 in the decider success over Andy Vincent (-3). In the only other match which went the distance, Vincent (-5) defeated Jason Lloyd (+1) 11-7 in the decider.
In the last of the all-top-flight ties, bottom team Lawford made full use of their handicap advantage to eliminate Brotherhood C 5-3, John Colvin unbeaten in his two singles and one doubles.
Nomads Tigers became the sixth First Division side to make it through to the next Round when they eliminated Second Division Windsor Harriers, whose miserable season continued at the wrong end of a 5-0 thrashing. Only one of the matches was extended to a fifth set.
No-one stayed unbeaten in the all-Division Two encounter between Brotherhood G and Windsor Magpies. Brotherhood finally emerged 5-3 winners with Mark Beckham winning his two singles. It was good to see David Hunt back in action for Brotherhood and he rewarded his side with a win in each of the singles and doubles.
Five Second Division teams won through to the next Round by eliminating teams from Division Three.
Nomads Ocelots took the first two matches of the evening against Brotherhood H and a possible upset looked on the cards. But the Brotherhood trio revived to take the next five matches to win 5-2, Woody Fitzpatrick (-8) securing an important 11-9 in the fifth win over Arthur Wells-Garrett (+1) before Mark Salter (-15) sealed the victory with a 14-12, 14-12, 12-10 success over Hazel Blanche (+2).
It was also 5-2 for Brotherhood I against Windsor Penguins but it was a far-from easy win. John Owen (-8) was involved in their closest victory, an 11-9 in the decider success against Alan Charman (+2), before Graham Parkes (-8) clinched the tie with a narrow 12-10, 15-17, 12-10, 11-9 win, also against Charman (+1).
In another 5-2 result, Walton E beat Windsor Merlins although the Merlins had the satisfaction, at one stage, of leading 2-1. Bradley Henshaw and Viv Rodriguez (+2) defeated Mark Gale and Maggie Earle (-10) in three-straight in the opening doubles, whilst Henshaw (+1) did the same against Earle (-5) in his opening singles. But that was the extent of the Merlins' success, Gary Stallwood remaining unbeaten on the night for Walton.
Nomads Bobcats and Windsor Falcons shared the first two matches of their tie but thereafter it was the Bobcats who took control to eventually win 5-1. The middle doubles proved the most nail-biting match, Eric Lemke and Mike Wellum (-15) scraping it 12-10 in the fifth against Kayley Rodriguez and Sandy Lamb (+2).
It was even simpler for Brotherhood F against Windsor Robins, comfortable 5-0 winners with all the matches settled three-straight.
But two ties, both involving two-player teams, bucked the trend and saw wins for Division Three over Division Two.
Third Division Brotherhood E, with only two players because of late illness call-offs, started their match automatically 4-0 down against Nomads Jaguars. But Duncan Dunne and Tony Edmonds proceeded to win all the five legitimate matches playable to move into Round Three with an unexpected 5-4 victory.
But a two-player Windsor Kestrels from Division Two could not perform a similar feat against Third Division Nomads Lynx who ran out 5-1 winners.
The only all-Division Three tie was also an all-Nomads affair between the Leopards and the Pumas. With all six players either on grade 11 or 12, it was always going to be a tightly-fought contest and, despite losing the first two matches of the evening, the Leopards emerged 5-3 victors. Dave Wright won two singles for the winners, as did Dave Harris for the losers.
So there will be six teams from Division One in the next Round, seven from Division Two and three from Division Three. The Brotherhood Club will be represented by six teams, Nomads by five and Windsor by three, with Walton and Lawford each having one team.
The draw for the Round Three will be made on 17th January and details will be circulated to all players as soon as possible after that date. The draw for Round Two of the Division Three Handicap Challenge will be made at the same time. Matches for both competitions will be played during week beginning 4th February.
* The Handicapped Singles Tournament takes place on Saturday 2nd February at Windsor's St James Hall venue. The Tournament will be run on a group basis and, with eight groups of four players and the top two going through to the knock-out stage, every player should be guaranteed at least three matches. Because of the format, entry will be restricted to a maximum of 32 players on a first-come, first-served basis.
Entries can be made by post to Tony Oswick or on-line to Peter White. The entry fee is £3.00 and the closing date for entries is Sunday 27th January. Full details are on the League's website.
* The Windsor Club is organising a Pig Race evening on Saturday 16th February at St Osyth Village Hall, 7.00 pm for a 7.30 pm start. Tickets are £3 each with free entry for children. Bring your own drink and nibbles. For more details get in touch with Jenny Higgins (Tel : 01255 432397) or Viv Rodriguez (Tel : 01255 830951).
Handicap Cup : Round 2
Brotherhood C 3 Lawford 5;
Windsor Buzzards 5 Walton B 4;