Arthur Clark Reports on the Junior Division 1A matches played on Saturday 7 April 2012
For the Junior Second Team there was the journey to Wellingborough on Easter Saturday to complete the final three rounds of Junior County Championship Division 1A matches. All matches would be played on two tables. After the first four rounds of matches at Burton Uxbridge where they only secured one point from their four matches they were facing the barrel of a shotgun to stay in the Division. With the Team’s number one girl, Emily Godfrey, away on holiday Shannon Rolfe was offered the space on the basis of reports of substantial improvement during the course of the season which she accepted. Charlie Bates was also invited to make his debut for the Essex Team.
Their initiation was to face a Hertfordshire Team relegated from the Premier Division last season, currently in second place in the table and seeking to go straight back up. Robert Shrimpton and Charlie both lost their opening matches to Luke Walsh and Leon Thomson, 3-1and 3-0 respectively. Shannon lost to Annabelle Gibson, still listed in the ETTA Ranking List as an Essex player, 5, 13, 5 whilst on the other table Jane Li lost a marathon match against Pooja Sharma 12-10 in the deciding game after leading 10-6. She later on made up for this defeat by beating Annabelle, ranked 274 points above her, 8, 3, -3, 9. James put his team on the score sheet by winning -9, 6, 8, 6 against Zac Mandel. The other four matches were lost. Robert could make no impression on Leon, James too many mistakes against Luke, ranked 500 points above him, Shannon 3-1 to Pooja after taking the first game and Charlie 3-1 to Zac. With Yorkshire, Cheshire and Worcestershire all gaining a point each there was now a gap between Essex and the rest in the table. Nothing but two wins were likely to save Essex from relegation but there was hope as they were now left with playing the two teams immediately above them
The first of these was Yorkshire 2. Essex made a good start with Charlie beating Adam McKay 3-1 and James overcoming Sam Clayton, ranked 67 points above him, 15, 9, -1, (nothing went right for James in this game), -10, 7. Jane beat Ffion Myers 9, 9, 8 but Shannon lost to the much higher ranked Jenny Wood 5, -9, -4, 9, 2 after being 2-1 up. Essex 3-1 up. Robert lost to Marcus Reynolds 3-0 but Charlie picked up some ranking points by beating Sam, 150 points above him, 5, 10, -4, 10 to put Essex 4-2 ahead. Shannon lost 3-0 to Ffion but Jane maintained the pressure on Yorkshire by coming back from 2-1 down to win 4, -9, -6, 7, 6 against Jenny. James had another good win, and with it an Essex Team win, over Marcus 8, 9, 9 who is ranked 180 points above him. A disappointment for Robert as he went down 10, 12, 3 to the lower ranked Adam. Although they won the Essex Team were still bottom in the Table, but now only on Sets difference
Cheshire wanted an early start in the last match as they had a four hour journey to get home so the match started before some of the other matches had finished. Only by losing 10-0 to Essex could Cheshire be relegated whilst on paper the other two relegation candidates should lose to Lincolnshire and Hertfordshire respectively. Thus an Essex win would be enough for them to stay up if Yorkshire and Staffordshire both lost. Things did not start well. Robert lost to the England No. 31, Tom Hill 3-0, and Charlie, agonisingly to Joe Killoran, ranked 185 points above him -2, 9, 6, -6, 9. It then became clear that Essex should pick up the four girls matches when Jane beat Nicole Scott, who was playing with two broken fingers on her left hand, 4, 2, 3 and Shannon overcame sister Nicole 10, 5, 9, thus two boys wins were needed from their last four matches. James provided the first with a 10, 5, -7, 10 win over Matthew McCormack but Joe was too good for Robert, winning 3-0. Shannon and Jane duly won their remaining matches comfortably enough and with James losing 3-1 to Tom it was all up to Charlie against Matthew who was surprisingly ranked above Joe and ranked six places above Charlie although he did not know that at the time. With vociferous support from the Team and its supporters Charlie won the first game to 7, got the second at 9, took an early good lead in the third only to see Matthew gradually whittle it back to 9-9 upon which two mistakes from Matthew gave Charlie his win and Essex the match.
Because of the early start of the match the Essex contingent had to wait biting their nails until Lincolnshire, the Division winners and Hertfordshire, the runners up, had both won the necessary six sets in their matches for Essex to know they had achieved an Houdini escape and avoided the relegation that looked likely after the first round of matches.
The final Divisional Table as far as I know it, as the Essex Team left before Herts completed their matches as follows:
P W D L Sets F Sets A Pts
Lincolnshire 7 6 1 0 51 19 13
Hertfordshire 7 4 3 0 45 or 46 24 or 25 11
Worcestershire 7 4 1 2 38 32 9
Northamptonshire 7 2 2 3 36 34 6
Cheshire 7 2 1 4 32 38 5
Essex 2 7 2 1 4 26 44 5
Staffordshire 7 2 0 5 26 or 27 43 or 44 4
Yorkshire 2 7 1 1 5 24 46 3
Had Charlie not won his last match against Cheshire then the Essex Team would have been relegated by I or 2 sets and Staffordshire, who started the day in fourth place and the Organiser’s home County, would have stayed up
James Denyer 4 wins out of 6, Robert Shrimpton 0 out of 6, Charlie Bates 3 out of 6, Jane Li 5 out of 6 and Shannon Rolfe 2 out of 6
Strangely the Boys No. 2 position was not the place to be selected for as neither Owen Warren, in the first round of matches, nor Robert Shrimpton in this round, won a match whilst holding that position
Thanks to Gill, Matt and the other parents for coaching the players.
Arthur C. Clark
Essex Junior Match Secretary.