victories over Wiltshire, Bucks and Hertfordshire
After an absence of several years, an Oxfordshire Senior team, managed by Chris Pavitt of Banbury, was entered for the County Championships, the idea being to provide an outlet and an opportunity for local players aged between 18 and 40, without calling upon any of our top level Veterans. We competed in Division 2B, in which all of the season’s matches were played at Cippenham over the weekend of February 18/19.
For the Saturday we fielded Bartek Duleba, Neil Cartwright, Charlie Lane, Maria Lebedeva and Nikki Francis. First match was against Wiltshire, a fine opener, as they proved to be the weakest county in the division and we won 8-2. Sussex 3 were much tougher opponents, holding us to a hard-fought draw. Our top-seeded players, Bartek and Maria, were on fine form, but Bartek, who had arrived straight off the Cowley night shift, started to feel the pace in the 3rd match v Bedfordshire and we lost 2-8. Nevertheless the team effort held firm at the end of the day in a 7-3 victory over neighbouring Buckinghamshire. We were particularly pleased that our 2nd ranked lady, Nikki and our 4th ranked man, Charlie, making his debut, were able to give a fine account of themselves in every match at this level.
Oxon no 1 Bartek Duleba in action at Cippenham
With three fixtures left on Sunday, we brought in Pawel Jaskolski to replace Charlie. Every match was hard fought and desperately close. Bartek got us off to another brilliant start, with two wins over Essex 2; Maria followed suit, but with Pawel and Nikki struggling it was left to Neil to get us the draw by beating the Essex no 3, blowing a 2-0 lead to scrape home at deuce in the 5th! Next up were Gloucestershire, vying with Bedfordshire for top spot: here Maria kept us in the running with another maximum, but Ollie Tyndall and Billy Shilton were just a bit too strong for us and a single win for both Neil and Pawel over veteran Dave Harvey was not enough to prevent a 4-6 defeat. Undaunted we took on 3rd placed Hertfordshire: Neil set it up by beating their no 1 and with two wins from both him and Pawel, a single win from Bartek and Maria was just enough to snatch a 6-4 victory at the death. This left us tied for 3rd place, but only 5th on countback (see league table below) – nevertheless a fine team performance over the two days.
Players in ranking order:
Ladies: Maria Lebedeva, Nikki Francis.
Men: Bartek Duleba, Neil Cartwright, Pawel Jaskolski, Charlie Lane.
Wiltshire v Oxfordshire 2 8
Oxfordshire v Sussex 3 5 5
Bedfordshire v Oxfordshire 8 2
Oxfordshire v Buckinghamshire 7 3
Essex 2 v Oxfordshire 5 5
Oxfordshire v Gloucestershire 4 6
Hertfordshire v Oxfordshire 4 6
Final League Table:
Bedfordshire 7 7 0 0 51 19 14
Gloucestershire 7 5 1 1 47 23 11
Hertfordshire 7 4 0 3 42 28 8
Sussex 3 7 3 2 2 38 32 8
Oxfordshire 7 3 2 2 37 33 8
Essex 2 7 2 1 4 34 36 5
Buckinghamshire 7 1 0 6 29 41 2
Wiltshire 7 0 0 7 2 68 0