At the NETTS Table Tennis Club at the Earls Colne Recreation Club Essex were the hosts to County Champs Junior Division 2C first round of matches on Saturday 21 October 2017. A full Division of eight teams with six teams from East Anglia, Northants the most northern, and two Sussex teams from the south coast. Last season’s relegated teams Sussex 2 and Hertfordshire would be looking to get back to Division 1 as would Suffolk and Essex 2 who both narrowly missed out on promotion last season. All matches were played on two tables.
The Essex 2 team was Abdul Raqueeb, Matthew Stringer, Jared Chelski, Jaz Harvey and ten year old Maliha Baig. At the time of selection Casey and Alana Mansfield’s grandfather was seriously ill and sadly he has very recently passed away. Figures in red brackets are the current Junior Rating points of the relevant players.
In the first round of matches Essex 2 played Cambridgeshire 2 and won the first two matches. Debutant Abdul (420) beat Josh Curry 3-1 while Jared defeated Matthew Pryke (300) 3-0. Jaz (284) beat Chloe Pryke 10, 8, 9 while on the other table Maliha had to play Emily Brown (258). Maliha won the first two games but then Emily gradually got back into the match and although Maliha had a chance to take the fourth game she finally lost -6, -10, 8, 10, 4. Matthew (420) then lost 3-0 to Zach Martillo (722) but Jared was taken to a deciding game by Josh and came back from a couple of points down to win that 12-10 to put Essex up 4-2. Maliha lost 3-1 to Chloe after winning the first game and Jaz lost to Emily 12-10 in the fourth game. Our Matthew beat their Matthew 8, 10, -8, 10 and with Abdul a comfortable win over the much higher ranked Zach a good start for the Essex Team with a 6-4 win.
In the next round Essex played Sussex 3, who only had one girl player. Matthew lost to Billy Keegan (433) 3,12,10 while Jared was taken to a fifth game by Ed Cozens and won that game 11-1. Abdul then beat Mathew Johnson (406) 3-0 while Maliha was involved in another marathon. 2-1 down she won the fourth game to 8 and the fifth game was either player’s to win until at 10-10 Maliha won the next two important points with attacking shots. Two more five game matches, Matthew losing to Ed and Abdul defeating Billy Keegan after getting the second game 18-16 after losing the first. Jared lost the last match after Jaz had beaten Sasha 3-0. A 7-3 win.
Essex met neighbours Suffolk in the third round with both teams leading the Table although Suffolk had the better sets difference. They had not played one another at Junior level for several seasons but Essex had the better record at Cadet level. However the Suffolk players were now ranked higher than the Essex players. Matthew and Jared both lost their opening matches 3-0 to Kian Burgess (865) and Luke Davies-Stokes (525) respectively. Jaz beat Lucy Curtis 3-0 and Maliha put up a strong performance against Holly McGerty (428) in losing 9, 8, 5. After Abdul lost to Daniel Shelley (547) and Matthew his second match, both 3-1, Jaz then produced her best performance of the day with a great -13, 6, 3, 5 win over the higher ranked Holly and not to be outdone Maliha took the first two games off Lucy 6 and 5. The third game did not go according to plan and she found herself 10-6 down. Remembering back to her first round match (did she?) where a two-nought lead was lost now was the time to attack. Four winning points later it was 10-10 and two more attacking points clinched it. A great come back at a crucial stage. I don’t think Lucy could believe it. Unfortunately Abdul and Jared could not achieve the same so Suffolk won 7-3 to retain top spot but Essex dropped to fourth in the Table.
For the last round of the day Northants 2 were the opposition. They were bottom of the Division having only won two sets all day so a maximum win was the target. Eight of the first nine matches were won 3-0, Jared needing a fourth game when he lost the third, and Abdul needed five games to beat Jacob Tattersall in the last match for the 10-0 win.
There is only two points between the top four teams. In the final round of three matches all four teams have to play two of the other three teams so the winner of the Division may not be determined until the very end of the last round of matches. I am not even going to have a guess as to who this may be. The final round of matches will be held at the same venue, The Earls Colne Recreation Club, on Saturday 2 December, with a playing time start of 10.30 am. I will send a reminder round nearer the time as I intend to keep the same team.
Arthur C. Clark
Essex Junior Match Secretary and
Junior Division 2C Organiser.