With the halfway point in the season coinciding with the Christmas break, the title race for the First Division of the Hastings & District Table Tennis League could hardly be closer. After some dramatic results in the final round of matches, title-holders Hastings Academy A returned to the top of the league after major rivals Bexhill A were held to a draw at mid-table Tackleway A.
The top two are level on points with the Academics having a two sets advantage.
There is now a five point gap between second and third after Academy B lost for the second time in three weeks after again fielding a weakened side.
Academy A started the season as favourites with Paul Barry and Nathan Darby not having lost in a league match since January 2018. Both players were beaten in a draw with Bexhill A before a 6-4 defeat to Academy B left Academy A with a bit to do.
With a typical response, Academy A finished the first half with four wins at an aggregate score of 38-2.
Bexhill A seem to have been inspired by the acquisition of eighteen year-old Martin Kapusta, a top Slovakian junior who is a student at Bexhill College. This and the increased availability of Lewis Mayhew has just about compensated for the ongoing fitness problems of Robert Warner and Martin Kellaway.
Academy B share third place with much improved Academy D who have added Faldie Adams and Andrew Martin to a squad including thirteen year-old Arthur Bracken, who has a 79% record.
At the foot of the table, promoted Academy F are seven points adrift and will have to turn things around significantly to survive.
Nearest rivals are Bexhill D and Bexhill B, who will hope that Kevin McEwan and Yotza Krstic, respectively, make a speedy recovery from injury.
In splendid mid-table isolation are Hollington A and Bexhill C who are nine points out of touch with fourth place and eight points clear of the bottom half of the table.
For promoted Hollington it has been an impressive start in the top division, while Bexhill C have recovered from a bad start when they were dogged by lack of availability.