Forum C win Division Two
A & B teams in battle royal, but no match for Southampton A
All the results are tabulated in full (i.e. every individual match is recorded) at:
We fielded the following teams, quoted in ranking order, with captains asterisked; most players were wearing the new Forum team shirts, which are both smart and stylish.
A Todd Stanmore, Joe McKenna-Jones*, Kiarash Shaddel
B Lewis Waddup, Rafe Fleming, Ryan Hambridge*
C Jamie McNeil*, Robbie Greenfield, Bertie Anstis, Vicky Coll
D Christelle Rajapaska, Jonathan Dickinson, Joseph Steane*
A & B were unchanged, as C should have been, except that the Anstis family took a trip to Slough instead of Southampton. Vicky was moved up to take Bertie’s place against Southampton B and remained with the C team, leaving the unfortunate D team to enter battle with a trio of new recruits. We had lost three experienced players owing to illness and injury.
There was some déjà vu in Division 1, with both A & B teams starting with a flourish, defeating Winchester A and Weymouth A 6-0 & 5-1 respectively. The 2nd round followed a similar pattern, with Weymouth A and promoted Basingstoke suffering similar fates. That set the stage for the battle royal of the day, another chapter in the civil war between our own A & B teams. The highlight was a cracking counter-hitting match between Rafe and Todd, the best I’ve seen between these two, with Rafe showing all the fruits of his dedication to the game, carrying him into a decider and then to deuce, with Todd edging home in a match which clearly could have gone either way. Meanwhile Joe was threatening to repeat his win over Lewis, this match also climaxing with both players having match points in the 5th, Lewis stealing it at the death. Kiarash was down against Ryan, but recovered to win. Rafe kept up his scintillating form to beat Kiarash. Joe recovered from a two game deficit to overcome Ryan, but young Todd was the rock on which the A team was built, defeating Lewis to secure a 4-2 victory. After this epic, both teams still managed to dispatch the weaker opposition, but the acid test came against a redoubtable trio of players from Southampton A: William Poulter, Jared Schaller and Ben Poulter. Our B team put up a great fight, losing 2-4, with Lewis beating Jared, and Rafe not only beating young Ben from 0-2 down but also testing William to the full, threatening to win in four. By way of contrast our A team was unable to make any impression on the top two, relying on Joe to save them from the whitewash by beating Ben. They had left their best form behind them earlier in the day, but still managed to finish in 2nd place, two points ahead of the Bs.
12 year-old Todd Stanmore anchored the Forum A team, winning 8/10
The C team drew their first match 3-3, but were boosted by the arrival of Bertie and never looked back after whitewashing our D team. Jamie had an excellent day, losing only once to the relegated Generation 2, while Bertie kept up his fine form, being unbeaten, and Robbie won 7/8, a great improvement over his last showing in October. Vicky won 3/6. Thus amazingly they have won Division 2 and will be promoted in January to the top division, where we will now have three of the six teams! This arrangement will continue for the two sessions in January & February, so they have gained promotion at the pivotal moment.
The D team had a less happy time of it. The best way of introducing newcomers is to bring them in as a third or fourth player in an established team, but on this occasion Christelle Rajapaksa, who has just moved to Bicester, was thrown straight in at the deep end as no 1 player. She made a good impression right from the off against Winchester B, with excellent technique and athletic ability, winning one of her two matches. Jonathan Dickinson and Joseph Steane struggled to keep their heads above water, not surprisingly finding there to be a huge gap between the Oxford Two-a-Side League and the National Junior League. Christelle continued to show plenty of skill in a series of close matches. This was without doubt a fine debut for a delightful young lady, full of promise and a credit to the coaches at Bicester TTC, where she has been training. The team competed well in spite of losing 1-5, 0-6, 1-5 and 0-6, before taking on Solent in the final match. To their immense credit they seized their only fighting chance at the end of a hard day, with one win each carrying them to a 3-3 draw, finishing bottom of the division, a few points behind Solent.
The organisation was spot on, as before. It has been a breath of fresh air to have a team of organisers on the job, two tables for each match, annotated scoresheets to start the matches off and a projector showing the whole day’s programme on the arena wall, with both team and individual results instantly displayed. Full marks to the Waterside club for providing these facilities and making use of the technology in a way which instantly appeals to young people!