Game, set and Matchpoint!

When an irresistible force meets an immovable object something’s got to give! That’s what the song says and that’s what happened when the two top teams in Division 2 of the SDTTL met at the Riverside this week. Riverside School not football ground that is.

The match couldn’t have been set up more perfectly with the home side Matchpoint A sitting at the top of the table just one point clear of arch rivals Basildon A, both teams unbeaten, and three players also boasting individual unbeaten records. Only one player emerged afterwards with their record intact.

The evening started with a five set match between Evie Knaapen and Szymon Jarka the first of six consecutive such games at the end of which, not surprisingly, the teams were level at three all. Knaapen started well going two sets up before Jarka fought back to level only to lose the fifth 11/6.

In the second game the home side’s Harry Sawford raced into a two set lead against Arun Joy but a superb comeback from the Basildon man saw him take the next three 11/8 11/2 12/10.

Match three saw teenager James Elliott take on Basildon’s very experienced Les Hoey and he led 2-1 before going down 11/9 in a close deciding set. Basildon lead 2-1.

Harry Sawford met Szymon Jarka next and a two set lead for Jarka soon evaporated but a closely fought decider eventually fell 13/11 in his favour. 3-1 to the Basildon boys!

The fifth game was now all important for the Matchpoint side, to go 4-1 down would leave them a mountain to climb, and this match between Knaapen and Hoey, both unbeaten this season, was to prove a turning point. First set to Knaapen 11/7, second to Hoey 13/11, third set to Knaapen 11/6, fourth set to Hoey 11/5. Fifth and final set and it’s the teenager Knaapen who wins 11/8 to bring the overall score back to 3-2 to Basildon and ruin Hoey’s unbeaten record.

Elliott stepped up next to take on Arun Joy and although it was another five set match it must have been a quick one as Joy rushed through the first two sets 11/8 11/4, but the tables turned completely after that as Elliott won the next three sets 11/5 11/6 11/5. Joy’s unbeaten record falls and the match now level at 3-3.

The next two games didn’t go to five sets as Hoey defeated Sawford in four but Elliott then restored the equilibrium beating Jarka in three sets and leaving the match score at 4-4. The crucial last and deciding game saw the still unbeaten Knaapen take on Joy, both sides with everything to play for.

Like all the other five set games before, this one swung back and forth as Knaapen won the first two sets 11/4 12/10 only to see Joy fight back winning the next two 11/8 11/8 to level the match. The fifth and final set couldn’t have been closer but in the end game set and match went to Knaapen 13/11.

A fitting end to an exceptional match played in very good spirit and congratulations Matchpoint A – still top of the league!