Reigning champions Westfield A kicked off the 2013-2014 Kettering and District Table Tennis League season with a comprehensive 9-1 win over Westfield C.
With team captain Kevin Bird absent through injury, Sam Wildman stepped into his shoes and recorded an excellent treble for the lost of just two ends. Steve Silk, the leading player in the league last season, was also unbeaten but only after edging Nicole Bird out 11-6 in the decider. Dan Smalley, on his return to the Kettering league, prevented the whitewash when he accounted for Roumen Stefanov in four ends.
In a tight clash between Westfield B and Arthingworth, it was Westfield’s Brian Wooding who took the man of the match award as he recorded a superb hat-trick before joining Scott Dixon to take the match winning doubles. Wooding’s treble included a fifth end win over Chris Gibbons who was otherwise unbeaten. Matt Rushton provided Wooding with some solid support with a double, whilst Gerald Henson and Michael Edwards both one once for the defeated Arthingworth side.
Burton Baptist A started their campaign with an 8-2 defeat of Harborough Athletic with Chris Ross leading the way with a straight games hat-trick and then pairing up with Alex Aston to take the doubles in straight games as well. Aston only dropped one end all night and Gerry Crasto, replacing the unavailable Dariusz Gulbicki, added a single but provided James Allington and Kevin Shield with their single successes on the night.
Last season’s Division 1 champions, Corby Town B, suffered a heavy 9-1 loss to Kettering Town A. Michael Clarke performed best for Corby, losing in five ends to John Fuller and in four ends to Nigel Metcalfe before gaining his team’s solitary point with an 11-5 deciding end win over the tricky Mike Hawes. Clarke was also to lose out in five ends in the doubles when, teamed with Aaron Moore, they led Fuller/Metcalfe 2-1, before the Kettering duo came back to win 11-6 in the decider.
A close match was expected when Higham, runners-up in 2012-2103, travelled to play Corby Town A. This pre-match expectation looked to be inaccurate as Higham raced into a 4-0 lead. Richard Elliott started the proceedings off by defeating Lee O’Boyle, before Andy Harrison came back from the dead to defeat Chris Haynes in five ends. Mark Nannery then beat Henry Arthur in four and Elliott returned to the table to see off Haynes 3-1. O’Boyle stopped the rot for Corby with a win over Nannery before Arthur edged out Harrison in five ends. Higham then took the next two rubbers courtesy of Nannery and Elliott to give Higham a 6-2 lead. O’Boyle then saw off Harrison at 11-9 in the fifth before teaming up with Arthur to take the doubles in five against Elliott/Nannery and set an early marker for the longest match of the season.
Westfield A 9 (Silk 3, S Wildman 3, Stefanov 2, S Wildman/Stefanov) Westfield C 1 (Smalley)
Westfield B 6 (Wooding 3, Rushton 2, Wooding/Dixon) Arthingworth 4 (Gibbons 2, Henson, Edwards)
Burton Baptist A 8 (Aston 3, Ross 3, Crasto, Ross/Aston) Harborough Athletic 2 (J Allington, Shield)
Corby Town B 1 (Clarke) Kettering Town A 9 (Fuller 3, Metcalfe 3, Hawes 2, Fuller/Metcalfe)
Corby Town A 4 (O’Boyle 2, Arthur, O’Boyle/Arthur) Higham 6 (Elliott 3, Nannery 2, Harrison)
Chris Agg and Daryl Sutcliffe both won their first two matches to help Burton C to a 5-2 lead at Harborough. However neither managed to complete their treble as Mike Brocklebank and Dave Coombs both completed doubles for Diamonds before going on to add the doubles to leave the match all square.
The two promoted sides met as Rothborough with both sides fielding new players. Corby D’s new man, Eric Schwarzer won twice before becoming the final victim of an excellent treble for Buccaneers Brett Owen. The Rothwell club’s new man, Michael Cross, won once before going down in five ends to John Hunt. Two wins for Kettering League Secretary Ivor Jones on his return to Division 1 helped Buccaneers finally secure a 6-4 win.
Rothborough Arrows finished just outside the promotion places last season but must be in with a good chance this season with Julian Marlow and Helen Watts both securing comfortable trebles against Thrapston Falcons. David Steele won twice before falling in straight ends to Nigel Payne but with Marlow and Watts returning to win the doubles Arrows won 9-1 to top the table.
Relegated Thrapston Eagles showed why they must start as favourites for an immediate return to the Premier Division winning the first four matches against Corby C. However two wins for Ryan Cassidy and one for Nigel Hunt meant the last six matches were shared. Mark Stockley completed a comfortable treble for Eagles and must be the early season favourite to top the averages.
Despite the absence of skipper Peter Briggs, Kites opened up a 4-2 lead against Rangers. However Steve Crook and Vaughan Allington then recorded their first wins of the night and Liam Burnham completed his treble against the previously unbeaten Geoff Judd to put the Harborough side 5-4 ahead. Burnham and Crook finally secured the 6-4 win for Rangers when they won the fifth end of the doubles 12-10.
Harborough Diamonds 5 (Coombs 2, Brocklebank 2, Coombs/Brocklebank) Burton Baptist C 5 (Sutcliffe 2, Agg 2, Simmons)
Rothborough Buccaneers 6 (Owen 3, Jones 2, Cross) Corby D 4 (Schwarzer 2, J Hunt, McLaren/Schwarzer)
Rothborough Arrows 9 (Marlow 3, H Watts 3, Steele 2, Marlow/H Watts) Thrapston Falcons 1 (Payne)
Thrapston Eagles 7 (Stockley 3, Warliker 2, Donaldson, Stockley/Warliker) Corby C 3 (Cassidy 2, N Hunt)
Thrapston Kites 4 (Judd 2, Goodman, Hickson) Harborough Rangers 6 (Burnham 3, Crook, Allington, Burnham/Crook)
The first match of the 2013 season in Division 2 was a one-sided affair when Burton Baptist visited Church Langton. Despite working hard Ian Lauder, Matt Sayles and Jamie Burgess couldn’t match Baptist’s experience, although Burgess was 2-0 up against James Young and nearly forced the win in a tight fourth end, eventually Young won out. Perhaps most impressive was Jon Sanders who, after a year out, dropped only an end in his return for Burton.
There was also a demonstrable gulf between the top ranked Rothborough team in Division 2 and their lowest ranked team. Comets’ Gareth Lewis, Pete Sturges and Kelvin Linnett were on the treble trail early but Anthony Yeomans nearly spoiled it for Linnett in a tight eighth match. Debutant Sally Taylor nearly forced an end when paired with Yeomans in the doubles but eventually left empty-handed. There will be better days ahead for Gladiators and tougher tests for Comets.
Thrapston Harriers made an encouraging start to the new season in defeating Kettering Town B 9-1. Jim Chatburn was the only success for Kettering in a straight ends defeat of Paul Blantern, otherwise Alan Tyler, Becky Tyler and Blantern took the honours. Although Chatburn and Alan Woolston nearly forced a second point in a tight doubles against the Tyler pairing.
Rothborough Exocets also ran out 9-1 winners against the newly formed Corby E side. Dan Bottrill beat Alan Abbott for his first taste of victory but the rest of the points went to the experienced Exocets.
Corby E 1 (D Bottrill) Rothborough Exocets 9 (Harrison 3, Mordecai 3, Abbott 2,)
Harborough Imps 0 Burton Baptist D 10 (Sanders 3, Smith 3, Young 3, Sanders/Smith)
Kettering B 1 (Chatburn) Thrapston Harriers 9 (A Tyler 3, Bec Tyler 3, Blantern 2, A Tyler/ Bec Tyler )
Rothborough Comets 10 (Lewis 3, Linnett 3, Sturges 3, Linnett/Sturges) Rothborough Gladiators 0
Player of the week
Team of the week