The new table tennis season is now officially underway as action in the Doric Insurance sponsored senior leagues has commenced.
The format remains the same as previous seasons with 4 Divisions of 3 man teams, however the number of teams in each Divisions is more evenly balanced this year, moving away from the larger 2nd Division that has been in place in recent seasons.
Whistlers table tennis club picked up their first top flight league title in over 23 years when their 'A' side claimed the honours last year and they have named the same team to spearhead the title challenge again this time around.
The triumphant team of Lawrence Stacey, Matthew Casey and Ryan Gilson started off in style due to their comprehensive 9-1 win over Lions C. The outcome was not as straight-forward as the scoreline suggests however, as 3 matches were won over the full 5 set distance by the defending champions. Lawrence Stacey led the way strongly with wins over Andy Gill, Charlotte Casey and reserve Jez Powell, standing in for Paul Hainsworth. Lawrence's toughest game was against Gill whom he overcame in 5 sets, whilst he beat Powell in 4. Ryan Gilson made a super start to the season which saw 2 extremely tight 5 set wins over Powell and Gill, 12-10 and 13-11 in the deciding games respectively. He also overcame Casey in straight sets. Matthew Casey defeated sister Charlotte in 4 and Gill in straight sets, however he could not finish the job, losing out to Powell in 5 sets in the final match of the night. Gilson and Casey won the doubles against Gill and Casey in 4 sets.
The main title challengers from last season could well be Lions A and like Whistlers, the side is unchanged. Ben Foss missed a large portion of last season due to injury, but he re-joins Ryan Bichard and Jamie Ferbrache to see if they can dethrone the Whistlers squad. They started off well with an 8-2 win over a Lions D side containing the returning former Island player Liam Robilliard. Foss was in good form and overcame Robilliard, Corey Brouard and Sam Clark in singles action, dropping just the solitary game to Robilliard in the process. Bichard mirrored the results of Foss, whilst Ferbrache overcame Brouard in 4 sets and Clark in straight sets. Robilliard prevented the whitewash due to his hard fought 5 set win over Ferbrache in the final match of the evening, whilst Brouard and Clark picked up a surprise 4 set doubles win over Foss and Bichard.
Whistlers B started the season strongly with a tight 6-4 win over Lions B. Joshua Stacey set the benchmark for his side with wins against Phil Ogier, Dan Collenette and Andre De Carteret. His encounter against the latter was the closest and he needed to battle back from 2-1 down to win in 5 sets. Mark Pipet put in some strong performances to defeat De Carteret in 4 sets and Collenette in 5 sets, whilst Elis Tomlin picked up the decisive 6th win when he beat De Carteret in 4. Ogier beat both Pipet and Tomlin in straight sets, whilst Collenette beat Tomlin in 4. Ogier and Collenette won the doubles rubber over Stacey and Tomlin in 5 sets.
A mixture of results in the opening 2 weeks of the 2nd Division sees Lions G as the only side to have won both matches. This team contains the returning Luke Le Tissier, alongside Nye Matthew and Ian Le Page and each player has won 4 of their opening 6 singles matches against the Ravenscroft Panthers A and Ravenscroft Panthers B sides during their 7-3 and 6-4 victories.
The Whistlers C and D sides met in a well contested draw this week. Martin Sarre was in super form for the D side in this clash as he overcame Kay Chivers, Keith Opie and Ben Sharp, dropping just the single game to Chivers in the process. Craig Dunning and Paula Le Ber each overcame Opie to make sure of the draw, however it could have been better for their side, as both players narrowly lost out to Sharp in 5 sets.
St Pauls A on the other hand were held to a draw by the Whistlers D side in the opening week. In this fixture it was Dunning who excelled with wins over Chas Elliott, Maurice James and reserve Val Guilbert. Sarre and Le Ber each defeated Guilbert to make sure of the draw in this fixture. Sarre also came close against Elliott but lost in 5 sets.
Lions J and Ravenscroft Panthers D lead the way following victory in each of the opening 2 fixtures of the season. Both sides also have the same games ratio difference.
The Lions side of Edward Rowe, James Crocker and Jayden Tucknott started with a 9-1 win over St Pauls B and followed up with a 7-3 win over Whistlers E. Rowe won all 6 of his singles matches, whilst Crocker won 5. The encounter against St Pauls B also saw another welcome return to the sport for Carly Tucknott. She played well during her reserve appearance and won 2 of her 3 matches.
The Panthers side started with a 10-0 win over Lions I before edging past Lions H 6-4. The squad is made up of the Ridunian trio of Marli Barker, Amy Wesley and Melissa Johns who are now in the Island completing their further education. Whilst they won all of their singles matches against the I side, none were able to defeat the Lions H reserve of Steve Potter who won all his matches, dropping just 1 end to Barker in the process.
Lions K and Ravenscroft Panthers E lead the way at the top after the first fixture of the season.
The Lions side of Derek Cave, Graham Mallett and new player Damian Fitzgerald overcame Lions M 8-2, however this included Graham's daughter Janine Nichols standing in for him. Cave won all of his matches against Rose Powell, Helen Barker and Karen Blondel, whilst Nichols and Fitzgerald defeated Barker and Blondel. Cave and Fitzgerald beat Powell and Blondel in straight sets in the doubles match.