After day 1 it was neck and neck at the top of the table with Darenth B and Cleeve Park B tying on nine points each.   Amherst B and Amherst C were in joint third with Cleeve Park C and South Croydon B on one point apiece.   Clubs are rotating players to give everyone some experience so there were new line ups in most matches.

Round 3

The closest match of this Round was between Amherst B (Daniel Henderson/Oliver Ames) and Cleeve Park C (Mark Russell/Jake Murrison-Waller) where two of the four players were on debut, Ames and Murrison-Waller), Russell having played on Day 1 and Henderson a veteran from last year.   Henderson’s experience showed and despite dropping the third game to Russell, he pulled through to put Amherst B on the board.   Murrison-Waller won the battle of the debutants to level and Cleeve Park won the doubles to take the lead.   Henderson put things back on an even keel for Amherst, so it was down to Ames and Russell to decide the outcome.   It resulted in a straight games win for Russell and therefore a 3-2 victory for Cleeve Park C.

There were three more new faces in the Cleeve Park B and South Croydon B match, Mark Yin and Jed Baulch for Cleeve Park and Calina Dawson who teamed up with Anishka Vijay for South Croydon.   The opening set was very good and brought a win for Cleeve Park.   Baulch backed it up by defeating Vijay and Cleeve Park consolidated their lead by taking the doubles.   The boys were now a bit more confident but the effort from the girls didn’t diminish.   A 5-0 loss was a little disappointing for the girls but joy for Cleeve Park.

Amherst C were struggling to find a second player as the date clashed with the annual indoor football tournament at the School so one of the A team players drafted in for them.   His sets wouldn’t count but at least Harry Lewis had company.   They were scheduled to play Darenth B (Matthew James/Alexander Papadopoulos).   Lewis was on debut and found the going hard against boys who have the benefit of competing last year.   He didn’t score anything for his team but it was five welcome points for Darenth B.

After Round 3 the leaders were still level on 14 points but Amherst B had moved up to third place on seven.   Amherst C had five, Cleeve Park C four and South Croydon B one.

Round 4

One of the best matches of the day came in this Round where Cleeve Park C (Russell/Murrison-Waller) faced the South Croydon girls, Caron Charles accompanying Vijay.   Two sets required a deciding game, two a fourth and the fifth was worth a fourth game.   Understandably this match took a long time to play and the reverse singles were played off on two tables.   Russell almost pushed Dawson to a fourth game in the opening set but she held him off 13-11 to score a point for her team.   Murrison-Waller and Charles had a tremendous battle which went game for game to two all before Murrison-Waller managed to scramble over the line 11-9 to level the match.   The doubles was extremely tight and another five game set ensued.   South Croydon were within a whisker of taking it in straight games but the boys scraped the third 12-10.   Eventually they got back on terms and it got very tense at 10 all.   However, the boys just about squeaked home 14-12 which gave Cleeve Park a 2-1 lead overall.   Charles opened her League account with a four game win over Russell so it was down to Murrison-Waller and Dawson to settle the issue.   Murrison-Waller won the first game, dropped the second but then wet up a gear to win in four and ensure victory for Cleeve Park C.

Amherst B (Henderson/Ames) were up against it with the Darenth B duo of Papadopoulos and James.   Papadopoulos was playing exceptionally well and James, being a leftie, set them quite a few problems which the Amherst boys couldn’t find the answers to.    Being strong on the backhand wing is an asset when a right handed player faces a leftie and, given both Henderson and Ames favour that side, they will be disappointed to have lost 0-5.   All credit to the Darenth boys though, they didn’t give much away.

Boosted by their earlier success Cleeve Park B (Yin/Baulch) were looking to take a maximum against Amherst C.   Lewis still had company and, to his credit, he did his best to stay in the rallies but neither Yin nor Baulch were giving much away.

Darenth B and Cleeve Park B remain tied at the top on 19, runaway leaders from the rest of the pack.   Amherst B and Cleeve Park C have moved into joint third on seven points with Amherst C on five and South Croydon B on three.

The players are, doubtless, benefitting from match play but League competitive table tennis brings with it some responsibilities and the youngsters need to get into the habit of serving legally right from the start of their careers.   A little bit of careful practice will pay rich dividends and stand them in good stead for years to come.

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