JUNIOR DEVELOPMENT DIVISION 1 – 02.12.17. – DAY 2

TANDRIDGE A RETAIN THEIR LEAD AS PLAYERS SETTLE INTO THE COMPETITION

When the Junior Development Division 1 convened on 2nd December, Tandridge A were top of the table on nine points, three points clear of the rest of the pack.   Just four points covered all the remaining teams – Darenth A were in second place on six, Cleeve Park A and Tandridge B were on five apiece, South Croydon A had three and Amherst A two.

All the matches were much closer this time with only one not being decided by the odd set.

Round 3

South Croydon fielded the same team of Nicolas Ito-Aramendia and Dominic Faulkner against the Amherst A pair of Sam Arnott and Yiannis Papadopoulos and were soon under pressure going 0-2 down.   Arnott had a comparatively straight forward win over Ito-Aramendia in straight games, but Papadopoulos had to come from 1-2 behind against Faulkner.   He scrambled the fourth 12-10 and then cruised home 11-5 in the decider.   The doubles went to South Croydon in four games which made it 2-1 to Amherst.   The reverse singles were shared.  Arnott went 2-0 up against Faulkner who did well to peg him back to two games each.   Arnott got a flyer in the fifth and made it a winning lead.   Papadopoulos began well against Ito-Aramendia taking the first game but Ito-Aramendia is left handed and has the classic forehand which he placed well to win in four and keep the score to 3-2.

Henry Morrell was in need of a partner for Darenth A and Ben Forrester stepped into the breach for the match against Tandridge B (Thomas Byrne/Izaac Duncan-King).   The opening set was one of the best of the day - Morrell took a 2-1 lead in the opening singles against Byrne who then levelled at two games all.   Byrne was well up in the deciding game but Morrell, another lefthander with a strong forehand topspin, fought back to get on terms, and then held Byrne off 13-11.   Forrester worked hard against Duncan-King who just about squeezed home in the second game 12-10 and 15-13 in the third to make it all square.   Darenth took the doubles in four and Morrell turned round a 1-2 deficit to beat Duncan-King 11-5 in the fifth to take a 3-1 lead.   Still beavering away Forrester pushed Byrne hard but was held off 9-11, 9-11, 9-11 which made it a 3-2 success to Darenth.

The Cleeve Park A (Callum Ho/Phillip Kmiecik) and Tandridge A (Jack Coyne/William Ainsworth) match produced some excellent play and it was very keenly contested.   Coyne took the opening singles but was pushed hard by the diminutive Ho to 13-11 in the fourth.   Kmiecik was hard pressed to keep Ainsworth at bay as 12-10, 13-11, 7-11, 13-11 would indicate and the doubles was just as tight, going to Tandridge 6-11, 12-10, 11-5, 12-10 giving them a 2-1 lead.   Ho tussled with Ainsworth, clawing back a 1-2 deficit 14-12 in the fourth before whizzing away with the decider.   It was thus down to Kmiecik and Coyne to settle the issue and although Kmiecik managed some very good blocked returns, he had to give best in four games.

After three rounds Tandridge A still led Darenth A by three points with Cleeve Park A and Tandridge B on seven and South Croydon and Amherst A on five.

Round 4

The closest match of this round was that between South Croydon A (Faulkner/Ito-Aramendia) and Tandridge B (Duncan-King/Byrne).   It began with a win for Duncan-King over Faulkner in four close games followed up by Byrne with another four game win over Ito-Aramendia.   The doubles went in straight games to Tandridge and then a really long set between Faulkner and Byrne ensued with Byrne going 2-1 up.   Faulkner came back at him to level but got a poor start in the decider and faded away.   Ito-Aramendia was determined to get his team on the board and battled his way to a 2-1 lead over Duncan-King, got his nose in front early in the fourth and made sure of it 11-4.   It was a 4-1 victory for Tandridge B but could so easily have been a 3-2 the other way.

The Amherst A (Arnott/Papadopoulos) and Tandridge A (Coyne/Ainsworth) match finished as a 3-2 to Tandridge.   Coyne won the opening singles with Arnott while Ainsworth struggled to get on terms with Papadopoulos from 0-2 down.   The fifth was anybody’s but in the end went to Papadopoulos 15-13.   Tandridge got the doubles for a 2-1 lead but were pegged back to two sets all through a straight games win for Arnott over Ainsworth.   Coyne set out his stall early on against Papadopoulos and took the set in straight games for a 3-2 win but it was two hard earned and very welcome points for Amherst against the leaders.

Konrad Johnson joined Morrell for Darenth A’s match with Cleeve Park A (Kmiecik/Ho) which produced some very good rallies.   It was a lengthy battle beginning with a win for Kmiecik over Morrell.   Johnson put Darenth back in the frame with a four game win over Ho after losing the first very easily.   The doubles was a long duel which was eventually won by Darenth 13-15, 8-11, 11-6, 11-8, 11-8 for a 2-1 lead.   Both the reverse singles went to five and were very hard fought.   Kmiecik earned a 2-1 lead over Johnson who then equalised before finally giving best 11-7 in the fifth.   So, it was down to Morrell and Ho to settle the issue.   The set which was the last one of the day to finish, swung this way and that before Morrell donned his Houdini hat once more at 2-7 in the fifth to get home 14-12.   The boys got a well-deserved round of applause from those watching for it contained a great deal of very entertaining rallies played in the best possible spirit.

Tandridge therefore remain top of the table on 15, still three points clear of Darenth A with Tandridge B moving into third on 11 points.   Cleeve Park A have nine, Amherst A seven and South Croydon A six.

The standard in this Division is surprisingly high, reminiscent of Division 6 a couple of years ago, and it will continue to rise as the players become more accustomed to match play through the season.   At present the only player with an unbeaten record is Jack Coyne having won all eight of his sets so far, chapeau to him.

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