Essex Juniors face relegation battle

Arthur Clark reports on the junior premier division matches played on Saturday/Sunday 12/13 November 2011 and junior division 1A matches played on Saturday 12 November 2011

MIDDLESEX 3 3 0 0 18 12 6
SUSSEX 3 2 0 1 17 13 4
WARWICKSHIRE 3 2 0 1 14 16 4
KENT 3 1 1 1 17 13 3
YORKSHIRE 3 1 1 1 16 14 3
BERKSHIRE 3 1 0 2 15 15 2
ESSEX 3 0 2 1 14 16 2
CLEVELAND 3 0 0 3 9 21 0

 The first round of Junior Premier County Championship matches was held at the Cippenham Table Tennis Centre on the weekend of Saturday/Sunday 12/13 November with one match Saturday afternoon and two on Sunday. Having finished runners up the last two seasons there were hopes that this at least might be possible again this season but after a disappointing series of results this is now a distant vision. Currently second bottom in the Table the fight against relegation is a tough proposition since the teams we have to play in the next round of matches all seem likely to strengthen their teams.

 The opening match on the Saturday afternoon was against newly promoted Warwickshire. With Jared Patel deciding not to play on this day shortly before the weekend Ryan Williams replaced him playing his first mach for the County.

In the first match Brandon Crouchman, who replaced the now over age Luca Mariano, faced England No. 15 Matt Outhwaite. No fairytale premiership debut however losing 6, 6, 13 although there was a chance of extending the match to a fourth game. Although Ryan took the first game to 8 off Matt Lun he lost the next three 9, 7, 8. Iffy’s win was off the table as Warwicks had only one girl, Holly Thompson who subsequently lost 3-0 to Ella Patel and 3-1 to Iffy. Alex and Ryan both lost 3-0 to Laurence Sweeney, Ranked 21 and Alex also lost 3-0 to Matt Outhwaite. Brandon did his best to get the boys a win but after going 2-1 up he fell away to lose in five to Matt Lun

 Sunday morning’s match was against Kent who, on the basis of their 8-2 win over Cleveland yesterday, appeared to have a much stronger team than last year. Essex quickly went 3-0 up thanks to wins by Jared over Luke Savill, although he dropped the opening game 13-11 in a breakneck speed match, and 3-0 wins for Brandon over Brian Gray and Ella over Emma Tovey. However Kent hit back to take the next four, Alex losing 3-1 to Reece Placid, ranked 25, Iffy and Ella both 3-0 to No. 11 Emma Torkington and Brandon to Luke in five where all the games were won at the same end of the table, -12, 5, -5, 3 7 after Brandon led 5-2 at the change round. Jared then beat Reece 3-0 coming back from 10-7 down in the first game to win the last five points. Iffy led 10-7 in the first and 8-6 in the second but couldn’t convert to game wins and thus lost to Emma Tovey 10, 9, 4. Thus all on Alex for a win against Brian to draw the match. Another match like Brandon’s earlier where the same, and it was the same, end seemed to dictate the match only this time Alex , who led 5-3 at the final change round  managed to hold his nerve to win the last two points and win his match 4, -8, 9, -8, 9 for the Team draw.

 The afternoon match was against a Yorkshire team who had beaten neighbours Cleveland 7-3 in the morning and only just lost 6-4 to leaders Middlesex yesterday. Alex started with a match against Michael Frasier, a player he had beaten 3-2 in last season’s corresponding fixture. Sadly no repeat performance losing 7, 9, 12 although he had his chances to take the match to a fourth game. Brandon cruised through Tom Bell 5, 8, 3 and Iffy’s lack of match practice this season (she’s taking a year’s sabbatical to concentrate on exams) showed when losing to Ellen Auty 11, 9, -13, -10 8 despite having two game points in the first, leading 10-6 in the third and turning round 5-3 up in the final game. Jared lost the first game to Matthew Stephens and then went on to win the next three, albeit by 9 and 9 in games 3 and 4. Ella lost her first two game to Nicole Fiin, ranked 130 points above her, came back to win the next two but sadly unable to maintain the momentum to lose the final game to 8. Alex struggled in his first game with Tom finally winning it 15-13, found nothing going right for him in the third but won the fourth to 7 to make the match score 3-3. Ella won the first against ellen but lost the next three 6, 9, 6 despite leading 7-4 in the third  Jared had a fluctuating game with Michael with some spectacular winners and cruised through the deciding game to 3 to square the match once again.Iffy lost to Nicole 3-0 although she led 9-7 in the first. This left Brandon needing to beat Matthew for the Team draw  and he was up for it putting in a superb performance against the higher ranked player to win 9, 8, 7

 Looking back at the weekend’s matches and the current Table, leaders Middlesex only won their three matches by the narrowest of margins and only two points separates the middle six teams. Had Jared have played in the Saturday match and achieved his expected wins then Essex would have been second equal with Sussex on points (third on sets difference) and Warwickshire be in Essex’s second bottom position. Such is the closeness of the Division this season that any team having a bad second round of matches at Wednesbury on 17/18 March 2012 can be relegated.

Jared 4 wins out of 4, Alex 2 from 6, Brandon 3 from 6,Ryan 0 from 2, Iffy 1 from 5 and Ella 2 from 5.

 Thanks must go to John Holland on the Sunday for coaching the team and to the team players on the Saturday for coaching between themselves.

Lincolnshire 4 4 0 0 8
Hertfordshire 4 2 2 0 6
Northamptonshire 4 2 1 1 5
Staffordshire 4 2 0 2 4
Worcestershire 4 1 1 2 3
Cheshire 1 4 1 1 2 3
Yorkshire 2 4 1 0 3 2
Essex 2 4 0 1 3 1

For the Junior Second Team there was the long journey to the Burton Uxbridge Club in Staffordshire for four rounds of Division 1A matches. Some players decided to travel up Friday evening and stay overnight. This meant that original travel plans changed and that I had to pick Jane Li up at six at Stanway and travel back to Chelmsford so that we could travel up with Scott and Terry Dowsett. That plan changed Friday evening when a telephone call revealed that Scott had hurt his back at his casual job on the Thursday evening and would be unable to play. Thank goodness that I had selected four boys to play so that meant that the remaining three would have to play every match. It would be a daunting day against the four County First Teams that our Second team were due to play as most or their players were ranked above ours. All matches were played on two tables.

 The first match was against Northants who had Sam Mabey and Miles Chan ranked 9 and 35 respectively in their team. James quickly lost to Miles 3-0 whilst on the other table, Robert Shrimpton, playing his first match for the County against Joe Lindsay went the full distance, the first of five of his eight matches that would go to five games. This time he lost the final set to 5 being unable to take his one chance in the fourth to win the match. Jane lost to Nicole Bird, ranked one place above her 3-1 after sharing the first two deuce games and later on Emily Godfrey lost to Nicole 4 in the deciding game and also unable to convert the match point in the fourth game. Both girls beat Bethany Tyler, Emily by 9, 9, 8 and Jane after winning the first two games, having to win the decider 11-7. Owen Warren lost 3-1 to both Sam and Joe. Robert took the first two games off Miles 5 and 9 before losing the last three 5, 6, 4. An 8-2 defeat.

 The second match was against Worcestershire who had No. 24 Michael Siket but whose girls were ranked below Emily and Jane. Owen lost 4, 1, 5 to Michael and on the other table another 5 game match for Robert, against Jack Davis. Eventually a win -12, -7, 3, 12, 7.and by this time Emily had played her match on the other table and won 7, 10, -14, 5 against Shannon Johns. James then beat Jaspreet Singh, ranked seven places above him 8, -9, 9, 6 to give Essex a 3-1 lead. However Worcester fought back to win the next two matches, Jane losing 3-1 to Ella Parry-Reece and Owen 3-0 to Jack. Jane then beat Shannon 3-1 and James lost to Michael 3-0. The last two matches were shared, Emily losing 3-1 to Ella after winning the first and Robert gaining a good four game win over Jaspreet after losing the first, a Draw the result.

 The third match was against the leaders and Division favourites Lincolnshire. Only Roberts opening match with William Ross went the full distance which he won -16, 7, -4, 11, 4. Sadly all the remaining matches were lost, six of them to 3-1 scores to Adam Harrison, ranked 7, Commor Neenan, Emily Roys and Olivia Churchill.

 For the last match of a tiring day Staffordshire were the opponents. James had a good opening 3-1 win over Stephen Ward, ranked 70, whilst on the other table another marathon for Robert against George Falcus ranked 115. Robert will remember the last two games for a long time, leading 2-1 and 10-6 up he lost no less than eight match points and two further match points in the decider to lose 9, -6, -9, 15, 11. A similar agony was to befall Jane in the next match against Lauren Evans. Turning round 5-2 down in the decider she then took eight of the next ten points to lead 10-7 only to lose the next five. Owen lost his two matches to Ryan Fellows and George and Emily beat Bekki Lycett and Lauren both 3-0. Jane also beat Bekki 3-1 but Robert must have run out of energy when playing Stephen losing 11, 9, 15 and not even able to take the match to a fourth game with the game points he had. Thus a 6-4 defeat that could, perhaps should, have been

James 2 wins out of 8, Owen none from 8, Robert 3 from 8, Emily 4 from 8 and Jane 3 from 8.

 Their next round of matches is at Wellingborough on Saturday 7 April (Easter Saturday) where it loks as though two wins from the three matches are needed if Essex are to stay up in Division 1.

 Arthur C. Clark
Essex Junior Match Secretary.