The Premier Division of the Kettering and District Table Tennis League is starting to take on a familiar shape with Westfield A, Burton Baptist A and Higham again leading the way in the battle to be crowned champions.
All three teams gained comprehensive victories but none more so than Westfield A who recorded a third 10-0 victory from only five matches. Guy Sparrow put in a sterling effort for Corby Town B without reward, first of all losing in five ends to Roumen Stefanov and then getting even closer to succcess against Kevin Bird. Sparrow led 2-0 but Bird fought back to level the match before taking the decider 11-9. However, even Sparrow could not get near Steve Silk who dropped only one end as he recorded his fourth hat-trick from outings.
Burton Baptist A are just five points behind Westfield A, but in Westfield C they found some stern opposition. Dawid Przybysz continued his excellent early season form with another hat-trick to maintain his 100% record. Alex Aston was also unbeaten on the evening after surviving fifth end tests against Dan Smalley and Matt Horrocks. However, Horrocks and Carl Leeson gave their A team colleagues some breathing space, both recording excellent wins over Dariusz Gulbicki as Burton ran out 8-2 winners.
Higham stayed in the hunt with a 9-1 win against a Burton Baptist B team who are deep in the relegation battle. Richard Elliott and Andy Harrison were on the treble trail but Jacek Koltuniuk prevented the whitewash with an excellent win over the higher ranked Richard Bashford. Baptist cane close to adding another point when they held a match point in the doubles but sadly for them they failed to convert it and the Higham duo of Elliott and Bashford took full advantage to win 13-11 in the decider.
Corby Town A find themselves just one point behind Higham as they maintained their seasonal unbeaten run with a 7-3 win over Westfield B. Lee O'Boyle was the hero for Corby with his third treble in only his third appearance of the season but Chris Haynes lost his unbeaten record when he fell to a tremendous battling display from Nicole Bird. Haynes led 2-0 before Bird pulled level at 2-2. When Haynes went 7-3 up in the decider it looked like he was on for another treble but Bird then won seven points in a row before sealing victory 11-8.
Kettering Town A could only field two players in their match against Harborough Athletic but another unbeaten night from John Fuller ensured that the match finished all square. Mike Hawes aided Fuller with a single win before the two players teamed up to take the match saving doubles. Barry Thompson and Kevin Shield both defeated Hawes in singles action and the 5-5 draw could be an important result for Harborough in their relegation battle.
Thrapston Eagles continue to find life tough following their promotion to the top flight and they found themselves on the wrong end of anthother 10-0 defeat, this time against Arthingworth. Ray Kingston, Gerald Henson and Chris Gibbons were the players that did the damage for Arthingworth, although Mark Stockey (against Kingston) and Ian Donaldson (against Henson) both came within a couple of points of snatching a win.
Westfield A 10 (K Bird 3, Silk 3, Stefanov 3, Bird/Stefanov) Corby Town B 0
Burton Baptist A 8 (Aston 3, Przybysz 3, Gulbicki, Przybysz/Aston) Westfield C 2 (Leeson, Horrocks)
Higham 9 (Elliott 3, Harrison 3, Bashford 2, Elliott/Bashford) Burton Baptist B 1 (Koltuniuk)
Westfield B 3 (N Bird 2, Rushton) Corby Town A 7 (O'Boyle 3, Haynes 2, Arthur, Haynes/Arthur)
Harborough Athletic 5 (B Thompson 2. Shield 2, Allington) Kettering Town A 5 (Fuller 3, Hawes, Fuller/Hawes)
Arthingworth 10 (Kingston 3, Henson 3, Gibbons 3, Kingston/Henson) Thrapston Eagles 0
Player of the week: Nicole Bird
It remains a close four way battle at the top of the table for the title and the other promotion place with not much to choose between these four teams.
Rothborough Arrows and Harborough Rangers were joint top in terms of points(although Thrapston's Kites and Falcons with a game in hand could both easily overtake them) so if either team won their match they would go top of the table, for now at least. The match was predictably close with four sets requiring a fifth and deciding end and three a fourth end. Julian Marlow maintained his unbeaten record this season though at least this time he was tested, especially by Liam Burnham. At 2-0 down Burnham started a comeback winning the third end by the surprising score of 11-2, followed by 11-9 in the fourth. Marlow then regained his form in the fifth to win comfortably 11-4. Marlow was more comfortable in his other wins 3-0 against Steve Crook and 3-1 over Mike Brocklebank. Brocklebank won his other 2 sets with a close and long fifth ender against Helen Watts that contained a 12-10 to both players and 16-14 in the 5th and 3-0 over Ivor Jones. Watts won her other two sets though had to come from 2-0 down against Burnham in which there was another 11-2 win for Burnham in a losing set and an 11-1 win for Watts. Burnham had some consolation with an expected win over Jones 3-0. At 5-4 down Rangers needed to win the doubles to get a draw. Brocklebank and Steve Crook just missed out by the narrowest of margins, 14-12 in the 5th against the dependable Marlow and Watts who edged it for a 6-4 victory.
The two Thrapston teams Kites and Falcons both recorded 7-3 wins although Kites were facing stronger opposition so should be the happier of the two with this. Corby C started their match with a shock win by Stewart Abraham over Pete Briggs of Kites courtesy of three 11-9 legs the third of which was the deciding fifth. There are 30 places between the two players(55 and 85) on the Kettering ranking list and it was Briggs's first loss of this season. Abraham did not add to this win losing 3-0 to both Geoff Judd and Stewart Williams and Briggs only lost one more end in the following 2 wins, 3-1 over Keith McLaren and 3-0 over Stephen Woolston. Judd was the man of the match with the only treble and his first of the season with Williams also beating McLaren in 5 and losing to Woolston in 5. There were five 5 enders in the match which included the first 3 sets.
With their strongest line up Falcons would have hoped for better than a 7-3 win over relegation threatened Harborough Diamonds. However they were missing their leading two players in the averages, Ian Baldock and Nigel Payne, who between them have won 15 out of 18 singles. That said all three of Diamonds winning sets were against higher ranked players with Dave Coombes beating Alan Tyler and Antony Marray and Vaughan Allington over Ian Donaldson who is playing in the premier division this season. Therefore it was three valuable and arguably unexpected points for Diamonds.
Thrapston Harriers V Harborough Rovers was a relegation battle and therefore both teams badly needed a win to get them out of trouble. Harriers have been struggling with both form and player availability and were looking for one or two players to add to their squad. They will be thankful then that Marta Honkova has joined them however on her debut match in the Kettering league she was not able to help her team with the scoreline despite getting close to her first win in five ends against Sam Burgess. Playing in his second match in 2 days Alan Tyler made a good start winning the first leg easily 11-2 against Jamie, however that belied what was to follow. He also won the second leg this time by a close one 12-10 and then an unbelievable third end 28-26! If Tyler was simply trying to get more table time the extra practice helped as he won a thriller against the other Burgess, Sam 13-11 in the fifth in which every leg was close followed by a 3-1 win over Mark Pearson in his first treble of the season. As his team-mates couldn't help him add to the score though, the 7-3 defeat means the team are looking odds on favourites to finish bottom of the table unless they can improve their form. The other relegation place looks like a battle between the two Harborough teams Rovers and Diamonds.
In a match between two mid table teams Burton Baptist D and Westfield D everybody won at least one set but nobody was unbeaten. At 5-1 up the Wellingborough team looked like they might run away with it with Nitin Patal looking the most impressive with 3-0 wins over Steve Smith and Kelvin Marshall. Smith then started to turn things around with an impressive 3-0 win over Chris Alder before Marshall won had previously beaten Alder 11-9 in the fifth continued his good night with a convincing 3-0 win over Paul Malpass then Derek Muggleton showed that he is adept at coping with long pimples by beating Patal 3-1 which was his first defeat of the season out of 9 sets. Malpass and Alder got their team back on track to win the doubles and the match 6-4.
Rothborough Arrows 6(Marlow 3, Watts 2, Marlow/Watts) Harborough Rangers 4 (Brocklebank 2,Crook,Burnham)
Corby C 3 (Abraham,Woolston,Abraham/Woolston) Thrapston 7 (Judd 3,Briggs 2, Williams 2)
Harborough Diamonds 3 (Coombs 2,Allington) Thrapston Falcons 7 (Donaldston 2, Marray 2, Tyler 2, Tyler/Marray)
Thrapston 3 (Tyler 3) Harborough Rovers 7 (S. Burgess 2, J. Burgess 2, Pearson 2, S. Burgess/J. Burgess)
Burton Baptist 4 (Marshall 2, Muggleton, Smith) Westfield D 6 (Malpass 2, Patal 2, Alder, Malpass/Alder)
Player of the week: Geoff Judd
A heavy loss by Kettering Town B was brightened considerably by a fighting win by Ann Woolston against Buccaneers’ Luke Saywood in the only game to go the distance. The first four ends were all won by the narrowest margin but Woolston steamed ahead in the fifth to win 11-3 over a player 42 places above her in the rankings. Her team mates were unable to support her though leaving Ray Harrison and Tom Ravenscroft to sweep the board otherwise losing only one end and both remain unbeaten in singles.
Burton Baptist E didn’t have such a player on form and were unable to trouble the scorers against Comets who now go into second place by virtue of hat-tricks for Kelvin Linnett, Pete Sturges and Martin Watts, the former two also taking the doubles. They didn’t concede an end all night, the first time they have done that this season. Sturges and Watts have only lost one rubber each all season in nine matches all told and are likely be near the top of the averages at the end of the year.
Dakotas remain at the summit after matching Comets result, but very hard fought with three going the full distance. Tony Yeomans started the rout with a comeback from two down against Ron Palfrey and finished the night with another five end victory over David Patmore, and it seems he always scores a hat-trick when he plays up after doing so for Buccaneers earlier in the season against the same opposition. Sean Smith and Pete Rowbotham were the support act on the night although got fine trebles, but will find it harder in their next two matches against Comets and Buccaneers which will conclude the first part of the season in the second division. Those fixtures also complete the season in March, setting up for an exciting finale.
A first draw of the season for Corby D and Exocets was a good result for both with Corby only managing to field a depleted team. Dan Bottrill went through the card dropping only one end, his second maximum, whilst Nathan Brown had a good win over Pete Ainsworth; they also combined effectively for a straight ends doubles victory. For Exocets, Tony Yeomans and Sally Taylor both got two, Taylor doubling her seasons tally so far, and in the process they leapfrog Burton and Town B in the table.
Burton Baptist E 0 Rothborough Comets 10 (Linnett 3, Sturges 3, Watts 3, Linnett/Sturges)
Kettering Town B 1 (An Woolston) Rothborough Buccaneers 9 (Harrison 3, Ravenscroft 3, Saywood 2, Harrison/Ravenscroft)
Rothborough Dakotas 10 (Rowbotham 3, Smith 3, Yeomans 3, Rowbotham/Smith) Harborough Imps 0
Rothborough Exocets 5 (Taylor 2, Yeomans 2, P Ainsworth) Corby D 5 (Bottrill 3, Brown, Bottrill/Brown)
Player of the Week: Ann Woolston
Team of the week: Rothborough A