The club has entered only two teams for this season’s National Cadet League because we lost virtually an entire team last year and it was a struggle to keep all three teams running.   Thanks to some of the Amherst School squad we were able to keep going and it provided Ben McKay, Felipe Fujimori and Daniel Henderson with the experience of competing at a higher level.   All three boys are now enthusiastic members of the club and very much involved with NCL.   We opted to go to Morpeth School, London E2 as Rory Scott decided not to run at The College of Richard Colyer, Horsham.   Morpeth were lacking an organiser but fortunately Chris Egginton from Cleeve Park stepped into the breach.   There are just two Divisions, each of six teams, which were jumbled up for Day 1.   Two will be promoted and two relegated for Day 2 and thereafter it will be one team up and one down.

Round 1

The A were placed in Division 1 and were led by Tommy Cowling with support from Ben McKay Felipe Fujimori and Sam Arnott.   Tommy, Ben and Felipe began their campaign against a very strong South Croydon E team (Chidemebi Egbeama/Lucas Gabb/Josh Albequeque).   It was tough going.   Ben did well to take a game from Josh and Chidemebi while Felipe got a game from Josh but there wasn’t anything to put in the bank at the end.

The B went into Division 2.   Konrad Johnson, Oscar Owen and Matthew James started off against the even stronger South Croydon D team where the familiar faces of Yuvathi Vijay and Rocco Martinez-Paoli appear.   Naziyah Hasan was their third player.   Oscar pinched a game from Naziyah but it was a tough first assignment.

Round 2

Division 1

Sam came into the A team joining Tommy and Felipe against Cleeve Park 3 where there were two “known” players – Philip Kmiecik and Jake Murrison-Waller.   Chris Chin completed their trio.   Felipe got the first point in the bank, defeating Kmiecik in straight games.   Tommy battled his way past Chris in five and Sam got off the mark, defeating Jake 14-12 in the fourth.   Philip put one on the board for Cleeve Park by beating Tommy but Felipe had a straight games win over Jake and Sam kept his cool against Chris winning a close one 7-11, 11-9, 13-11, 11-9 to make it a 5-1 victory.

Division 2

The B (Oscar/Matthew/Daniel) opened their account against Morpeth (Luke Westgate/Yuxiao Huang/Enan Ziddah) with a win apiece for Oscar and Daniel.   Matthew was disappointed with his form but wasn’t 100% fit.

Round 3

Division 1

Tommy, Ben and Sam then ran into Cleeve Park 2  (Mark Yin/Sayd Hamad/Devan Vadukul).   Both Mark and Devan compete in the Sevenoaks League Junior Development Division so were known to the boys.   It was quite a close match although the 1-5 scoreline doesn’t reflect it.   Ben took Devan to five games as did Sam but it was Sam who prevented the whitewash, defeating Sayd in four games in the last set of the match.

Division 2

Cleeve Park 1 (Ryan Farthing/Aniket Bhanushal/Aydin Saju) were far too strong for the B (Konrad/Oscar/Daniel) and clearly they were among the favourites to gain promotion to Division 1 on Day 2.

Round 4

Division 1

Much the same could be said for Elm Green 1 (Akramul Islam/Franklin Almonte/Jherson Rogales) although four sets went to a fourth game.   Sam took both his sets against Jherson and Franklin to four games and Ben was a little unfortunate not to take Akramul to five – 4-11, 13-15, 11-8, 12-14 gives a clue, a win wasn’t out of the question.

Division 2

The B (Konrad/Matthew/Daniel) got their first win against Elm Green 2 (Finbarr Twomey/Gus Legat/Isaac Lovely).   Konrad and Daniel got two each but Matthew wasn’t his usual self and didn’t score.

Round 5

Division 1

Tommy, Ben and Sam joined forces to play South Croydon F’s three girls, Calina Dawson, Aniskha Vijay and Caron Charles, all of whom played in the STTL’s Junior Development Division 2 last season.   The boys had to work hard against these much improved girls and chalked up a 5-1.   Sam came within a whisker of beating Calina in straight games, losing out only 16-18 in the third, having cruised through the first two.   He dropped the fourth but was back on track in the fifth.   Unfortunately, he missed one of his big trademark forehands at 7-8 which put him behind instead of being level and wasn’t able to pull back the deficit, losing out 9-11 in the end.

Division 2

One might have expected South Croydon G (Gosinachad Egbeama/Shantosh Thervavasa/Adrian Vasudevan) to be weaker than their F team but this wasn’t the case.   Konrad, Oscar and Daniel took them on and gave of their best but only Konrad was able to score a point, beating Gosinachad in straight games.

This wasn’t a particularly successful day points wise although the A looks set to stay in Division 1.   Remaining there will be tough and hopefully the B won’t have quite such strong opposition next time.   Everyone will have learnt something from Day 1 and take that experience forward.   Sam was the most successful player, achieving 50% from his eight sets.   Thanks are due to Duncan McKay who transported players to the venue and stayed with the A team throughout the day.


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