CADET COUNTY CHAMPIONSHIPS
DIVISION 1B, 29 NOVEMBER 2014
The first round of County Cadet Division 1B matches were played at Cippenham on Saturday 29 November 2014. The Division originally consisted of ten teams but Herts and then Middlesex 2 withdrew. To avoid two teams sitting out on each round of matches and adjacent Counties arranging one match between themselves the Fixture List for the Division matches was completely reconstituted (by me) so that there would be four matches to be played each round and original home and away fixtures maintained. It was agreed that four rounds of matches would be played on the first day. All matches would be played on two tables.
The selected team squad for the day was Sam Hume, Jack Stockdale, Joe Walker, Syed Hussain, Tiana Dennison, Zoe Davies and Gracie Edwards. Tania had to withdraw two days beforehand when she had no transport as dad John was competing in a Vets Tournament at Norwich. Stuart Gibbs was also there and he had persuaded Howard Grant to coach the team.
In the opening round of matches Essex had to play neighbours Suffolk. Jack had to play opposition No. 1 Kian Burgess ranked 68 places above him. They traded the first four games but Kian got off to a good start in the decider to win it 11-3.On the other table Joe played Alex King and won 6, 4, 12. Zoe and Gracie then played Hannah Page and Holly McGerty respectively. It took Gracie a game to wake up and both matches were then won comfortably. Sam then beat Daniel Shelley 3-0 but Jack struggled against Alex before finally winning 4, -8, 9, -9, 5 to put the Essex team 5-1 up. The two girls were then on, Gracie having no troubles against Hannah (3-0) but Zoe never really got going and lost three straight to Holly, who is ranked 66 places below her, a girl she beat 3-1 in the Regional Trials two months ago. In the battle of the number ones Sam, ranked 19 places below Kian, won 11, -6, 3, 9 whilst on the other table Joe lost to Daniel, ranked 179 places above him, 8, -8, -8, 5, -5. A 7-3 win was a good start for the team.
In the next round the East Anglian battle continued with a match against Norfolk. Syed, in his first match for the County, beat Cameron Verney in a very close match 10,6,12 whilst on the other table Jack lost to the Norfolk number one, Louis Moyes, ranked 22, 3-1. The girls matches were also shared, Zoe comfortably over Georgina Sunter 3-0 whilst Gracie had England No. 12 cadet Mollie Patterson to play. She did, however, take a game off her. Essex went 4-2 up when Sam beat Thomas Connelly 3-0 and Jack a comfortable victory against Cameron. With Gracie’s win over Georgina 10, 4, 8 Essex were assured a draw. Zoe had a very close match with Mollie, losing -9, 7, 9, 9. In the last two matches Sam lost 11, 6, -9, 6 to Louis and Syed to Thomas, ranked 53, by a similar 7, 8, -10, 9 games scoreline. Thus a draw it was and both teams dropped to equal third place in the Table
For round three Essex had to play early leaders Surrey 2. With Syed and Joe losing their opening matches 3-1 and 3-0 respectively to Kishal Patel and Matthew Hazell this was not a good start although both opponents were higher ranked. Once again the cavalry girls came to the rescue with easy wins over Federica Tazartes and Medha Verma and did so again later on in their reverse singles. In between Sam won his match with Ajithan Amurtherajan but Syed, after winning the first game, lost to Matthew. Sam gave Essex the win three straight against Kushal but after being 2-1 up Joe lost 11-8 to Ajithan. So the 6-4 win put the Essex team back equal top with three teams one point behind.
For the last round match Essex had to play Kent 2 who had only one girl and thus had to concede two matches to Essex.With it being Sam’s turn to rest and Jack to take on the number one position. In his opening mach he was taken all the way by Hammad Ansari and finally squeezed the last three points to win 11, -7, 7, -6, 8. Joe beat Mahmood Kelani 3-0 after a tight first game 13-11and Gracie, having surprisingly lost the first game to Scarlett O’Neil 11-9, heeded the pep talk and sailed through the next three. Syed although only losing his first game 13-11 with rising star Chamika Weerasinghe, younger brother of Helshan, was no match for him in the next two games. When Joe won his match against Hammad on four 8’s the match was won and with three 3-1 wins for Zoe, Jack over Chamika 10, 9, -5, 9 and Syed 11-9 the 9-1 win would help the sets difference.
Although equal top with Bucks 1 the Essex team are still behind on sets difference. However they still have Beds and Bucks 2 to play where on the evidence of the first day’s play they should achieve good wins. Before these two matches however they have the crunch match with Bucks 1 to play as the opener to Day 2 at the Ellenborough Table Tennis Club, Enfield on Saturday 21 March.
A great day for the Essex team and many thanks from us all to coach Howard Grant standing in for Stuart Gibbs.
Arthur C. Clark
Essex Junior Match Secretary and Cadet Division 1B Organiser.