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Essex Juniors Glamorgan take the title but Essex 1 oh so Close!

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 CIPPENHAM TTC were the hosts to County Champs Junior Division 1B matches on Saturday 11 March 2017.

Current TTE Ranking positions are shown brackets after the player name. Note that the Glamorgan players have no TTE Rankings.

This was the final round of Junior Division 1B matches. The first rounds of matches were played at Cardiff and Cippenham to reduce travelling for the County Teams. Glamorgan, Devon 2, Dorset and Berkshire played at Cardiff and Essex 1, Herts, Surrey and Sussex 2 played at Cippenham, both on Saturday 3 December 2016. After these first rounds Glamorgan and Essex shared the top of the table with 6 points each although Glamorgan held a slight advantage on Sets difference. Each match was played on two tables. The Essex team was Sam Hume, Jack Stockdale, Ryan Gooday, (Joe Walker was unable to play due to studies for exams) Tiana Dennison and Stephanie Cross.

In the first round of matches Essex 1 played Berkshire. They opened up with a 4-0 lead but for the boys oh so close. Sam (52) went 2-0 up against Yonaton Slobodskoy but was then pulled back to a deciding game which he eventually won 11-9 having failed to convert match points in the loss of the third game 15-13. On the adjacent table Ryan (200) squeezed home 12, -9, 11, 9 against Felix Thomas (221). Tiana (15) and Stephanie (21) both won 3-0 against Anaya Patel (33) and Katie Shepard respectively. Later on in the alternating matches Stephanie was to lose to Anaya in the fifth game of a fluctuating match with Tiana winning 3-1. Jack (57) was involved in two fluctuating deciding matches, firstly losing to Josh Gallen (67) and just beating Felix 11-9 in the final game to give Essex a 7-3 win after Sam had sealed victory with a 3-0 win over Josh. A good start but Glamorgan had beaten the eventual third placed team Surrey 9-1

In the second round Essex played Devon 2 and won the two opening matches, Jack coming back from 2-0 down to beat Daniel Kerr (70) 11-6 in the fifth game and Ryan, coming back from 2-1 down to win his deciding game 12-10 with Ben Edmunds. Tiana won her match with Zoe Bennett 3-0but Stephani lost three straight to Mari Baldwin (42). Sam, after winning the first two games easily against Leon Zackarkiw (105) surprisingly lost the third game but in the fourth everything went his way for a 11-0 game win and he followed this up with a deciding game win over Daniel after being 2-0 down. Like Stephanie Tiana struggled against Mari and went 2-0 down and three match points down before saving those and coming through to win the last three games 12-10, 11-7, 11-8. Stephanie only gave away nine points in her match with Zoe. With the match won Ryan lost to Leon after being 2-1 up. An 8-2 win but Glamorgan won 10-0 against the bottom team Sussex 2.

For round 3 the team would rely heavily on the girls winning their four matches against Dorset as both Sam and Jack had to play the highest ranked player on the day, Zac Dowling (33). Jack went 2-0 up against him but eventually lost 11-6 in the decider whilst a battling Sam was even closer, 11-7, 11-13, 11-9, 11-13, 8-8 before losing the last three points. Both opening matches went to five games, Sam saving match points in the fourth against Ali Malloch (82) before winning it 14-12 and the decider 11-2 whilst Ryan had two match point against Jamie Blair but eventually lost the game 13-11 but Ryan did win a very tight match against Ali 3-1 coming from behind in each of the three games he won. As hoped for Stephanie and Tiana won their four matches, three of them very easily, but Tiana struggled against ten year old Sophie Barcsai and was 2-1 down before finally winning the decider 11-8. Jack’s final match win over Jamie made the match score 7-3 but Glamorgan had beaten Herts 10-0.

With the last round of matches to come there was still interest in promotion and relegation issues. For the match between Essex 1 and Glamorgan, Glamorgan only needed a draw to win the League on Sets difference while Essex needed to win the match to take the title. Sussex 2 were already relegated (even if they were to win their last match) and the match between Herts and Dorset would determine the other relegation position. Whichever team lost the match would be relegated and if it was a draw it would be Herts on Sets difference.

Not a good start for Essex, Jack and Ryan both lost their opening matches 3-0 to Joshua Stacy and Joseph Roberts respectively. There was hope when Tiana went 2-0 up against Lara Whitton but in the end she lost 11-9 in a decider. Stephanie also won her first game against Lydia John but having lost the second she went on to win the next two games 13-11, 11-3 to give the Essex team an element of hope. Things were looking up further when Sam beat Benedict Watson 3-1 but with Jack losing 12-10 in the fourth game with Joseph Glamorgan only needed to win one more match to win the Division title. This came when Tiana lost 9, 8, 9 to Lydia after winning the first game. On the other table Stephanie and Lara were involved in the girls match of the day. With both girls bent on attacking games there were many fast and furious, yet long rallies to excite the spectators, before Stephanie came back from 14, 9, down to win 2, 9, 9. The score in the last game does not reflect the dramatic swings. Stephanie 5-0 up at the change round inched to 8-2 up before Lara hit back with winner after winner to bring the match score to 9-9. A calm but relieved Stephanie won the next two points, with a winning rally and an error from her opponent. After this two 3-0 defeats by Sam and Ryan left Glamorgan winning the match 7-3.

Disappointment for the Essex team but they were probably playing the core of the Welsh Junior team. Overall a good season for the Essex teams with the two Junior teams and the Cadet Team all finishing as Runners Up in their respective Divisions. There will be TTE Runner Up trophies for all the players in the three teams.

Sam 6 out of 8, Jack 4 out of 8, reserve Ryan 3 out of 8, Tiana 6 out of 8 and Stephanie 6 out of 8

 Final Table

P          W         D         L          F          A          Pts

Glamorgan                  7          7          0          0          61          9        14
Essex 2                       7          6          0          1          49        21        12
Surrey                         7          5          0          2          42        28        10
Berkshire                     7          4          0          3          35        35          8
Devon 2                      7          3          0          4          33        37          6
Dorset                         7          2          0          5          29        41          4
Hertfordshire               7          1          0          6          20        50          2
Sussex 2                     7          0          0          7          11        59          0

Arthur C. Clark

Essex Junior Match Secretary and
Junior Division 1B Organiser.