The end of the County Championship season was completed by the long trip to Christchurch, Dorset for the final round of Junior Division 1B matches. Before Christmas the teams in the two halves of the Division had played one another to reduce travelling. As a result of these matches Devon 1 and Essex 1 led the Division with six points each followed by Surrey and Dorset with four points each. For this final round each County had four matches to play although Cambridgeshire 1 withdrew their team five days beforehand. The Essex team was Sam Hume (799), Jack Stockdale (984), Jared Chelski (313) (playing in place of Joe Walker who was not available for the second time this season), Tiana Dennison (915) and Gracie Edwards (720). The figures in red are the current TTE Junior ranking points for the players.
Devon 2 were Essex’s first opponents. For the opening matches Jared had to play Benjamin Edmunds (714) and Jack played
Herbie Sage (665). Jared won his opening game but lost the next three while Jack beat Herbie 3-0. Gracie and Tiana both won their matches 3-0 against Francesca Maestri and Lauran Loosemoor (206) respectively as they did in the reverse fixtures later on. Sam then lost to number one Leon Zacharkiw 3-1 but Jared had an excellent win over Herbie 8, -4, 9, 9. In the final two matches Jack lost to Leon 3-0 while Sam beat Benjamin 3-0. A 7-3 win.
The second match was to be the big match of the day. With Devon 1 having a walkover against Cambridgeshire 1 both teams were on eight points but the Devon team, having been relegated from the Premier Division last season, had the better sets difference. Jack and Jared both lost their opening matches to Daniel Kerr (858) and Uther Kingdom (985) (3-1 and 3-0 respectively). Tiana had a titanic battle with Emily Haskett (753) finally losing that match 9, -6, 8, -13, 7 while on the other table an excellent win for Gracie over Mari Baldwin (966) 10, 7, 7. Sam then went on to get an ever better win, a 4, 9, 8 win over number one Joshua Millman (1089). For Jared it was a 3-0 defeat to Daniel despite losing the first game 12-10. In the Girls reverse fixtures Gracie lost to Emily 3-0 while Tiana came back form 2-0 down to beat Mari 3-2. In the final two matches Sam lost 3-1 to Uther and Jack beat Joshua 3-1. A 6-4 defeat but the closest that any team got to the Devon Team. Also it meant that Essex needed to win their final two matches for a chance of the Runners Up position.
In the third round of matches Essex had lowly Berkshire to play who were trying to avoid relegation alongside Cambs. It took Jack five games to overcome Jo Barraclough while Jared lost 3-1 to Felix Thomas (696). Tiana and Gracie had little trouble in winning their four matches against Rishika Desai and Alicia Simonova, only dropping twenty seven points in the twelve games. Both Sam and Jack beat Harry Munro (693) 3-1 and, after Jared had lost three straight to Jo, Sam completed the Team’s 7-3 win by beating Felix 3-0.
For the final round of matches the Table could be more complicated than it looked. Unbeaten Devon led the Table with 12 points and they had to play Surrey who had 10 points and had enjoyed three crushing wins and, if they had a big enough win, could overtake Devon on sets difference. Equally Dorset, with 8 points and the day’s highest ranked girl, had to play Essex 1 who had 10 points and Essex would drop to fourth place if they lost.
In the opening two matches Jack and Jared both lost their opening two games to Kai Major (670) and Ali Mallock (618) and whilst Jack came back to win his last three games 2, 8, 6 Jared won the third 12-10 but lost the fourth 7-11. Tiana again found youngster Sophie Barcsai (205) difficult to play but came through to win 14, 7, -10, 4 whilst Gracie found Katie Holt (971) just too hot to handle losing 3, 7, 9. The middle two matches were those to swing the match the Essex way. Sam beat the higher ranked Jamie Blair (870) 6, 3, 5 but much more important was the match on the other table where Jared came through a gruelling encounter with Kai to win 5, -13, -7, 5, 8 for Essex to get their noses in front. Gracie ensured Essex with at least third place when her game plan against Sophie gave Essex the fifth set. Tiana gave her all against Katie but in a close match it was just not enough, losing 10, 12, -6, 11. All now on the last two matches which both went the full distance. First to finish was Jack’s match with Jamie but not with the result that Essex wanted, Jack losing 9, -8, 9, -9, -7. Sam’s match with Ali took even longer and with a 4, -11, -13, 6, 13 result Sam had scraped the win the Team had hoped for and now what was the score of the Devon 1 v Surrey match that was still in play. Soon to reveal it was 8-2 to Devon so Essex 1 were the Runners Up. A great Team effort.
P W D L F A Pts
DEVON 1 7 7 0 0 58 12 14
ESSEX 7 6 0 1 44 26 12
SURREY 7 5 0 2 48 22 10
DORSET 7 4 0 3 45 25 8
MIDDLESEX 2 7 2 1 4 33 37 5
DEVON 2 7 2 1 4 32 38 5
BERKSHIRE 7 1 0 6 23 47 2
CAMBS 7 0 0 7 3 67 0
Arthur C. Clark
Essex Junior Match Secretary and Junior Division 1B Organiser.