The top flight of the Doric Insurance sponsored senior leagues will finish in dramatic style after a week of hard fought battles at the top.
Whistlers A put themselves in the perfect position by winning their final 2 matches of this season, including a re-arranged win over Whistlers C on Monday evening.
Leaders Lions A knew they would need to defeat 2nd placed side Lions C to keep the title within their own hands and they managed this by the skin of their teeth courtesy of a gritty 6-4 win. Despite being a single point behind the Whistlers outfit, they know that a win of any kind next week against Lions B will secure the title. A draw would result in the title going to the Whistlers side, as they have a superior games ratio.
In the crunch top of the table clash between the Lions sides, the only thing to separate them was three 5 set matches, which were all taken by the A side and all from losing positions. Joshua Butler was the main man in the fixture and his unbeaten evening contributed to 4 of the wins. He too epitomised the fighting spirit due to winning two of the previously mentioned 5 set clashes. His first came in the match opener when he trailed Paul Hainsworth 2-1 and 6-2 in points, before motoring back to take the 4th 11-8 and the decider comfortably. His other 5 set win was even more crucial as it came in the final match of the night against Phil Ogier, with the score delicately poised at 5-4. Ogier too held a 2-1 lead, but Butler once more held firm and ensured that the title remains in his side's hands. His other wins came via a 4 set win over Andre De Carteret and a doubles victory alongside Ben Foss over Ogier and Hainsworth in straight games. 2017 Island Games debutant Foss defeated De Carteret in straight sets, but fell to defeats against Hainsworth and Ogier, in straight and 4 sets respectively. Junior Dan Collenette was the player to pick up the decisive 6th rubber and it could not have been done in a more dramatic fashion. It came whilst his side were 4-3 up and things were not looking good for the youngster when De Carteret stormed into a comfortable 2 set lead. Like Butler earlier in the fixture, he held his head well and navigated the 3rd and 4th ends 11-8 to force it to a nervy decider. De Carteret led for the most part and held a match point at 10-9, but Collenette managed to squeeze through 12-10 at the first time of asking. His other singles matches were lost to Ogier and Hainsworth over 4 sets, despite glimpses of excellent form.
The Whistlers side were comfortable 8-2 winners over Whistlers C in the re-arranged fixture on Monday evening and Garry Dodd moved to within just 3 singles wins of an undefeated season thanks to straight set wins over Lawrence Stacey, Matthew Casey and Division 3 reserve Callum Gilson. Stacey was the only player to taste any joy with tough 4 set wins over Pipet and Gilson, the Whistlers side duly mopping up the remaining matches.
Their other victory this week came over Whistlers B 7-3 and Dodd put the finishing touches on his superb season with another trio of straight game singles wins, Joshua Stacey, Martin Sarre and Joseph Bourgaize the players to feel the force of the Channel Island's best. As in the other clash, this time it was twin Josh Stacey that provided most of the resistance with straight set wins over Pipet and Gilson. Martin Sarre was the other player to pick up a win when he beat Gilson in straight games in the opener. The Whistlers side cleaned up the rest of the matches with relative ease.
Whistlers C won the final Division 1 match this week over Lions B 7-3 in a fixture where Lawrence Stacey won all 3 of his singles matches and a doubles match alongside Casey over Liam Robilliard and Ryan Bichard in straight games. Casey also picked up 5 set wins over Robilliard and Bichard and 2nd Division reserve Sam Clark also chalked up an impressive 4 set win over Robilliard.
Lions D wrapped up the title last week and cruised to a further 2 victories this week, however there has been a welcome return for Luke Le Tissier with 3rd placed side Lions E, playing his first 2 league matches since returning from injury. He has won 5 of his 6 matches since his return and this single defeat was in 4 sets to Jamie Ferbrache.
The Division 3 crown was expected to be finalised this week, however there was a rare defeat for league leaders Whistlers G this week, which leaves them 2 points ahead of Whistlers H, but with an inferior games ratio.
The leaders are expected to win next week against bottom placed side Whistlers I, but have put extra pressure on themselves due to the narrow 6-4 defeat to Whistlers H this week.