The adjacent County Cadet Division 1A match between Essex and Hertfordshire was held at BATTS Harlow on Sunday 26 January 2013. All but two of the Division’s matches had already been played and the result of this match would determine positions 3 and 4 in the Table. Herts needed a draw on Sets difference and Essex needed a win. For Essex this would be difficult as the Herts boys were all ranked well above the Essex boys. The match was played on two tables as were all the previous matches in the Division.
In the opening two matches Sam Hume played Herts No. 1, Chris Clifford and Ryan Gooday played George Coulson. Sam lost the first two games 5, 7 but determined play saw him lead 10-6 in the third game but the England No. 41 cadet clawed these points back and also the next two to win the match. Ryan faced the task of playing a player ranked 270 points above him. Having won the first game to 8 Ryan narrowly lost the second to 9 and nothing went right in the third, losing to 2. In the fourth 10-6 down Ryan won the next six points to take the match to a decider. 5-0 down at the change round the Herts coach called a time out at 6-6 to calm down the now anxious George and Howard Grant, the Essex coach, did the same with Ryan 6-10 down Ryan got three points back but lost the next from a net cord. The next two matches were the girls, both won 3-0 Tania Dennison winning against Megan Allaway and Zoe Davies losing to Charlize Uy although at 5-1 up in the second game there were Essex hopes. James Knudsen was no match for the quicksilver Ethan Walsh, the England No. 4 Under 13 ranked player and both representing BATTS in various tournaments, being destroyed 1, 7, 4. However the ever improving Sam kept Essex in the match by beating George 9, 7, 8 after some great attacking rallies by both players.
Zoe and Tania then both won their matches to bring the match score to 4-4, Zoe winning the last half dozen points in the third game to pull back a 9-5 deficit against Megan and Tania defeating Charlize in four after losing the second game from 10-10 to two nets. Thus third and fourth places depended upon the results of the last two matches, James against Chris and Ryan against Ethan. James fared much better in this match, much more his style, just losing the first game 11-9 but taking the second 13-11. Chris, however, upped his game to win the next two 5 and 7 for Herts to secure third place in the Table. Meanwhile on the other table a marathon match ensued. Ryan seemed much more adapted to deal with Ethan’s lighting thrusts and get his own cross table forehand shots in with good effect to go 10-9 up in the first but then lost the next three points. Ethan seemed to be on his way to a 3-0 win after taking the second game 11-6 but Ryan hit back taking the next two games 4, 3 as Ethan got more and more anxious and Ryan’s forehand more accurate. The start of the decider went Ethan’s way and at the change round he was 5-0 up. Two minutes later it was 8-8 and time for the Herts coach, Roger Close, to call a time out. This worked and with Ryan 8-10 down it was Howard’s turn to call a time out. This worked as well as the score became 10-10 but unfortunately for Ryan his next two forehands just missed the end of the table so Herts won the Match 6-4.
A good match and thanks to Howard for coaching the Essex Team in Stuart’s absence due to a Vets British League commitment. Just five points was the difference between a Herts 6-4 win and an Essex 6-4 win and a good overall performance from the Essex Team.
The match between Kent and Middlesex to determine the winner and runner up positions in the Division is likely to be played on Sunday 16 March.
Arthur C. Clark
Junior Match Secretary and Cadet Division 1B Organiser.