As the first third of the Rotherham Table Tennis League season draws to a close, Rotherham Scorpions A, last season’s champions met up with Phoenix Sports and Social Club A, the new pretenders to the throne. Before this meeting Scorpions had not dropped a point and Phoenix had only dropped one so there would be much to play for.
Both teams turned three of their reliable regular team members. For Phoenix it was Richard Element, the current Rotherham champion who has only lost 1 from 15 all season, Mick Jarvis and Craig Straw. For Scorpions it was Jamie Hudd, Harry Saxton and Alan Battye. Up first was Hudd against Jarvis. Having gone 2-1 down Jarvis hit back with two easy games 11-3 and 11-3 to win for Phoenix. Saxton responded struggling greatly against the determined Straw, Saxton just managed to pinch it 11-9 in the fifth game. Then Battye faced Element and he was quickly brushed aside. Saxton again, this time versus Jarvis and he had no trouble cleaning up in three straight games. Set 5 and Hudd versus Element. These two players are friends and team mates in the pairs competition but there was no love lost on this occasion as Element yet again won comfortably. Battye against Straw with Phoenix 3-2 up. Out of their last few meetings Straw has won nearly every time but Battye was determined to win this vital set in the match, was it to be 4-2 down or 3 all! This time Straw was no match as Battye won in three straight games. Doubles – and Saxton and Battye paired up against Element and Straw. Two games a piece and the decider was comfortably won by the Scorpions duo. This was the first time that Scorpions had been ahead in the match at 4-3. Of course Element, next on, was not going to let that situation remain for long as he saw off Saxton and completed yet another superb hat-trick. Jarvis against Battye would decide the first point of the night. First blood to Jarvis 11-8. Battye struck back winning the next two games. Jarvis responded to level it. Final game and Battye takes an early lead and romps home 11-5. Point to Scorpions. Last on Hudd facing Straw. Hudd went two games down very quickly and easily. 5-3 down in the fifth and Hudd hit a flukey lob which both players thought was short of the net but it went over and Straw failed to win the point. This was the turning moment because Hudd fought his way back to win this game and the next. Last game of the night and Hudd continued his fight back to clinch the set and the win for Scorpions. So played 7 won 7 for Scorpions and now they have a three point advantage over Phoenix, in second place, at this stage of the season.
In division two Scorpions D, in second place, were visited by Phoenix D in fourth. The experienced trio of Stuart Element, Rob Vaughan and Dave Engledow turned out for Phoenix whilst Andy Saxton and youngsters Jess Truman and Michael Taylor were representing Scorpions. Saxton versus Element first of all and this went all the way to the fifth with both players wanting to get themselves and the team on the scoresheet. Element’s experience overcame Saxton’s age advantage. Truman also lost to Vaughan but then Taylor hit back beating Engledow easily to get Scorpions on the card 2-1 down so far. Element then proved too strong for Truman but Saxton won his overcoming Engledow and then Taylor won his second defeating Vaughan. Match score 3-3. Doubles to Phoenix. Truman wins her first of the night. So match stands at 4-4. Taylor versus Element. Taylor wins the first two games easily 11-3 and 11-1 but Element is too shrewd winning the next but Taylor closes it to give Scorpions the first point. Last match is Saxton versus Vaughan a close call but the Phoenix player wins in four games and takes the match to a draw.
In the bottom division Scorpions I and Scorpions K met at their Dearne Valley College venue. The I team only having managed to pick up a single point so far this season and the K team sitting comfortably midway up the division. Ray Jackson was first on for the K team beating young Lucie Smith in four. Stephen Selway the lost to Adam Szabo and Dan Schofield lost to Lewis Ellams. 2-1 to the I team. Selway then walked past Smith in three easy games. Next two sets both go to the I team who now can see the light of their first win at the end of the tunnel. Crucial doubles goes to the K team to make it 4-3. Selway loses his last to young Ellams giving first blood to his team. Schofield against Smith now and it goes all the way to the final game where Schofield triumphs to bring the K team to 4-5 down. Can the I team take the second point? Jackson against Szabo and the youngster shows the maturity of his attitude and his game as he wins the deciding set of the night in three straight games to give his I team their first win of the season.
The next week is the first round of the Habershon Cup knock-out competition so the League takes a short break. L.S.M. A are hoping to defend their hard earned title from last year. In the Micklethwaite Pairs knock-out cup Richard Element and Jamie Hudd hope to make it a successful defence of their win last season. The full draws can be found on the League website at www.tabletennis365.com/rotherham.