The new season of the Eastern Valley Table Tennis League kicked off this week at its central venue of Cwmbran Stadium. In Division One there were the usual familiar faces competing plus the return of Nigel Gore after a brief absence from League table tennis. Division Two welcomed a new team of junior players representing North Gwent.
The very early pacemakers in Division One are Cwmbran Blues who overcame a weakened Blaenavon Aces team 27 - 4. The Blues side has been strengthened by the inclusion of Roger Grech who with Mark Farrow and David D Lloyd will be formidable opposition. Whilst all the Blues team won their matches it was Mark Farrow who picked up the player of the match award. For the Aces Callum Hunt was making his debut in Division One.
Last seasons winners Bristol Nomads have lost the services of the father and son combination of Chris and Louis Price which could see them struggling to achieve a hat trick of titles. In their first match they went down 12-23 to Cwmbran Colts. Despite being on the losing team the Nomads' Ian Maggs picked up the player of the match award with his 3 wins. In this match Alex Banks was making his Eastern Valley League debut for the Nomads. For the Colts there were 2 wins each for Nigel Gore and the Pearce brothers Mathew and Ben.
The final match in Division One saw a very closely fought match between YMCA Preachers and Cwmbran Aztecs. Despite winning 5 of the 9 games the Aztecs went down 16-17 due to a player of the match performance from the Preachers' Ray Goulding who had a surprising straight sets win over Tony Collins (secret bluebirds fan). For the Aztecs Collins won 2 matches and there were good wins for Mark Edmunds over Goulding and Andrew Ryder over David Lloyd.
In Division Two last years winners Cwmbran Panthers opened there campaign with a comfortable 23-6 win over the Divisions new team North Gwent Cougars. For the Panthers Mike Blatchford just edged the player of the match award over his team mate Howard Gaut with maximum wins each. They were backed up by their guest player Haydn Skinner with 5 points. It was unfortunate that the young Cougars first match was against the title holders and I am sure that Iestyn Howells, Cerys Evans and Sam Slatter will benefit from a full season of league table tennis.
Last years runner up Cwmbran Dynamos just edged out Cwmbran Fellows 18-17. The Fellows produced the player of the match in Wayne Ford with his 3 wins including a very close match against Alex Jones. For the Dynamos Jones and Will Haddon-Smith picked up 2 wins each and Sunam Rai fought well to pick up 4 points. For the Fellows Chris Thomas was making his league debut and played very well for his 5 points and Marta Morris had a good win over Rai.
The final match in Division Two saw Cwmbran Devils beat Cwmbran Eccentrics 19-14. The Devils were indebted to a player of the match performance from Colin Scott with his 3 wins and 7 points from Stan Williams. For the Eccentrics both Lincoln Alford and Matthew Powell secured 2 wins including a good win for Powell over Williams.