With just a few weeks of the 2020/21 season to play, there are 2 Lions teams in need of just a single point to clinch the title in Divisions 1 and 4 of the Doric Insurance sponsored leagues.
Conversely Divisions 2 and 3 remain utterly tight with all to play for amongst the leading sides.
Lions A maintained their hefty 6 point lead at the top following their hard fought 6-4 win over 5th placed side Lions C. Ben Foss continues to display good form and the averages leader dispatched Paul Hainsworth, Andy Gill and Sam Clark for the loss of just the single end to the former in a match which we won 12-10 in the 4th. Ryan Bichard defeated Clark in straight sets, but was involved in 2 other crucial 5 set matches for his side which ensured the victory for the league leaders. His singles match with Gill was a tight affair and one in which Gill held a match point at 10-9 in the deciding end. Gill was on top of the point with a strong forehand topspin, but Bichard played an excellent counter top-spin from the back of the table to save it before going on to edge through 12-10. The other pivotal affair came in the doubles rubber where Bichard teamed with Foss to secure a final game 11-7 result over Hainsworth and Clark. Hainsworth defeated Bichard in straight sets for his side.
Whistlers A continue to fight on despite the improbable odds of them claiming the title this season. They breezed past Whistlers B 8-2 in a fixture where Matt Casey shone. Casey had never beaten Josh Stacey until their previous league meeting where he edged through in 5 sets, but history repeated itself on the night as he once again earned an excellent 5 set scalp over the current Island Men's Singles champion. His other wins on the night came over Ben Sharp in 4 sets and Ellis Tomlin in straight sets. Lawrence Stacey defeated Sharp and Tomlin in straight sets, but lost to twin Josh 11-8 in the decider, whilst Ryan Gilson beat Tomlin in 4 sets and Sharp in 5 sets. The doubles rubber was won by Lawrence and Casey over Josh and Sharp in 4 sets. Josh also earned a straight sets win over Gilson for his defeated side.
3rd placed side Lions B defeated Lions D 7-3 this week. Phil Ogier led his team well with singles wins over Liam Robilliard, Steve Ozanne and Charlotte, dropping just the single end to Robilliard in the process. Reserve Jez Powell added wins over Ozanne and Casey in straight sets, whilst Andre De Carteret fought back from 2-1 down to defeat Casey over the full distance. Ogier and De Carteret combined to win the doubles rubber over Robiliard and Ozanne in 4 sets. Robilliard earned some solid straight sets wins over De Carteret and Powell, whilst Ozanne defeated De Carteret in 4 sets.
Whistlers D and Lions E remain locked at the top of the table on identical points after both sides successfully navigated tricky tests this week.
The Whistlers side were up against 5th placed side St Pauls A, but were made to work hard and came through 7-3 winners. Former long-time St Pauls player Craig Dunning came back to haunt his old club with an unbeaten evening of action. He defeated Chas Elliott in straight sets, Trevor Bourgaize in 4 sets and Maurice James in 5 sets. Paula Le Ber added wins over Elliott in 4 sets and James in straight sets, whilst Martin Sarre rounded off the victory when he beat Elliott in straight sets. Sarre also teamed with Dunning to win the doubles match against James and Bourgaize in 4 sets. Bourgaize had an excellent evening which included matching 5 set wins over Sarre and Le Ber, whilst James also earned himself a super 5 set win over Sarre.
On paper the Lions side had a much tougher test against 3rd placed side Whistlers C and this showed in the narrow 6-4 win which they obtained. Averages leader Jez Powell was in great form and this saw him earn comprehensive straight sets wins over Kay Chivers, Keith Opie and Ian Fitchet. Caden Brouard and James Crocker each defeated Fitchet in 4 sets and it was the pairing of Powell and Crocker which brilliantly edged the pivotal doubles rubber 13-11 in the deciding end against the experienced regular combination of Chivers and Opie.
There is still just a single point separating the top 3 sides at this very late stage of the season and arguments could be made for each of them as to who is favourite to lift the title.
In one of the closest run title chases in recent history, Ravenscroft Panthers D and Whistlers F are locked on 30 points apeice, with Whistlers G just behind on 29 points.
It is all going to come down to their fixtures against each other as the Panthers side have to play both of the Whistlers sides in the final 3 matches of the season, whilst the 2 Whistlers sides also square off for the final time.
The Panthers side are making sure their games ratio is superior and this could well turn out to be a decisive factor. They crushed Lions H 10-0 this week to extend their advantage in this respect. Steve Martin, Shaun Mosley and Mark Windsor each defeated Mike Brehaut, Lynn Finn and Dave Finn in singles action, whilst Martin and Windsor beat Brehaut and Lynn in straight sets in the doubles.
The youthful Whistlers F side on the other hand ran out 7-3 winners over St Pauls B this week. Stuart Sarre and Matthew Board each beat John Wills, Rob Vile and Brian Le Cras in singles action, whilst Darren Sarre added a further 4 set win over Le Cras to extend the winning margin.
Finally the Whistlers G side were dominant 9-1 winners over Ravenscroft Panthers C and actually have a better games ratio than their F side. Ken Falla and Erik Teteruck each beat Brandon Ferbrache, Mick Ingrouille and reserve Morgan Mountford in singles action. Max Burrows added wins over Ferbrache and Mountford and also teamed with Teteruck to edge past Ingoruille and Ferbrache in 5 sets in the doubles match. Ingrouille prevented the whitewash for his side due to a gritty 5 set win over Burrows.
Lions J are 1 point away from the title after defeating Lions L 8-2. They are aiming to complete a season with a 100% winning record as they have won all 17 league fixtures this season thus far.