For the second year there are two Divisions in the Junior Development programme with a total of 12 teams from five different clubs, Amherst, Cleeve Park, Darenth, South Croydon and Tandridge.   Division 1 met for the first time on 10th November.   It was revamped and comprised Amherst A, Cleeve Park A and B, Darenth A, South Croydon A and Tandridge A.   There were a lot of new faces and a few familiar ones from last season so the standard was a bit of an unknown factor.

Round 1

Amherst A (Yiannis Papadopoulos/Daniel Henderson) took on Cleeve Park A who had two new players in their line up.   Sayd Hamad and Ben Turgoose, who turned out to be very strong.   It was a tough start for the Amherst team and they collected only one game from the match but no points in the bank.

Cleeve Park B (Nick Hurst/Jake Murrison-Waller) took on Darenth A who put together a very different team as last year’s champions have moved on to the main competition.   Matthew James and Ben McKay were on duty for the occasion.   It was a much closer match than the 5-0 to Darenth would suggest.   Hurst took the left hander James to five as did another leftie, Murrison-Waller.   The doubles was decided in four but it could so easily have gone to five, the fourth going to 13-11.   McKay took both his sets in straight games.

South Croydon A who put in Gosinachid Egbeama and Rebecca Chung, both new to the League, took on Tandridge A’s Izaac Duncan-King and Tom Byrne, both of whom competed last year, in their line up.   South Croydon began well with Egbeama defeating Duncan-King in straight games.   Byrne levelled things up by beating Chung.   They took the doubles by the narrowest of margins 11-9, 14-12, 13-11.   From there on Tandridge were on a roll and won the reverse singles, admittedly both in four games.

So, all three matches were decided by large margins with Darenth A and Cleeve Park A recording maximums.

Round 2

There were two closer matches in this Round and only Cleeve Park A (Hamad/Turgoose) kept a clean sheet, against Tandridge A (Byrne/Duncan-King).   The doubles was, however, very close as 11-6, 16-18, 11-8, 12-10 indicates.

Darenth A, as is their custom, brought in Konrad Johnson for the second match to partner James against South Croydon A (Egbeama/Chung).   Egbeama started South Croydon off nicely with a win over James but Darenth then came in with a run of three sets with wins for both Johnson and James over Chung plus the doubles.   The final set was between Johnson and Egbeama who had met in the National Cadet League the week before.   Egbeama won it in five, having lost to Johnson in the NCL in straight games.   Johnson, for his part, had picked up his spare bat by mistake and it cost him dearly.   It was therefore 3-2 in Darenth’s favour.

The Amherst A (Papadopoulos/Henderson) and Cleeve Park B (Murrison-Waller/Hurst) match was keenly contested and there were many close games.   Papadopoulos coped reasonably well with the left-handed Murrison-Waller while Henderson lost to the big hitting Hurst.   Cleeve Park won the doubles to take the lead but Amherst bounced back, bagging both the reverse singles.   Papadopoulos was able to find the answer to Hurst’s power while Henderson adapted to Murrison-Waller after dropping the third.   The result was a 3-2 victory for Amherst.

At the end of Day 1, Cleeve Park A have a full house on 10 with Darenth A just two points behind.   Only two points cover the remaining four teams – Tandridge A have four, Amherst A and South Croydon A have three each and Cleeve Park B two.   The standard of play was surprisingly high and there are those who could already make the transition to Division 6 even at this early stage.   If last year is anything to go by, the standard will continue to rise meeting by meeting.   It is an exciting prospect.


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