The first round of the Wellingborough & District Table Tennis League’s Challenge Trophy, sponsored by Harish Thakrar, always produces some mixed results and this year proved no exception.
The draw takes into account where the teams are in the tables on a given date when the draw is made but with some teams not having played their full complement of matches, are, as a result of this, not in their expected position, and could gain an advantage when setting the handicap.
That said, there were players who put in excellent performances and others unfortunately, not doing as well as expected.
The biggest winning margin in the competition for many years came when WDHA Challengers defeated Westfield E 465-30.
The host trio had only managed six wins between them and are lying below the visitors in the league, hence the handicap.
But the match was summed up in game five where Nicole King, with easily the best record of the six, scored a measly 16 points in a 5-11, 3-11, 4-11, 4-11 defeat to Daniel Bain.
The second largest margin of victory saw Chesterwell A see off Wanderers A 406-336.
Both sides have struggled in the cup in the past but, despite Valdy Papiernik going down 4-11, 11-4, 6-11, 9-11 to Jon Taylor-Burt and 5-11, 11-9, 9-11, 8-11 to Andy Law, there were excellent displays by his Chesterwell team mates Mike Pond and Stan Galkowski ensured the hosts advanced.
There was an excellent cup-tie as Westfield D won 435-425 at Chesterwell C with most games around handicap.
The key games were three and four where Amrat Mistry earned 33 points in a 6-11, 5-11, 11-9, 11-6 draw and Stuart Holroyd, likewise in an 11-9, 9-11, 8-11, 5-11 defeat to Stuart Coles.
Game nine saw Maxine Shears win out 11-3, 9-11, 11-1, 11-8 over Asish Nandi to leave the hosts needing to pull back 17 points.
However, the visitors’ pairing of Holroyd and Amrat Mistry kept the hosts’ Stuart and Clare Coles to 41 points and gained 34 in drawing the doubles 10-11, 11-8, 11-4, 9-11.
Wanderers B belied their poor league performance and, with hindsight, probably enjoyed a generous handicap as they beat Stanwick 440-393.
The visitors failed to gain a leg and hopes of victory were dashed early in game four when Carl Eaves went down 0-11, 3-11, 4-11, 2-11 to Stewart Williams.
The hosts were consistent throughout with no visitor able to attain the 30 points mark.
In past years, Thrapston have performed well against lower sides and once again Chris Warliker and Ian Donaldson were within handicap but Alan Tyler struggled throughout in a 452-412 at Higham Harriers B.
Tyler’s two draws against Bob Collyer and Phillip Inman saw him drop 67 points.
This ensured victory for the hosts who were 43 points ahead at the doubles.
Donaldson and Warliker only gained a further three points, drawing 10-11, 11-7, 11-7, 7-11 against Collyer and Inman.
Visitors Higham Harriers C opened brightly in their match at St John B with Oli Hicks gaining 32 in a 2-2 draw with Alan Hill but Mike Terry restored the balance in the following game with a 11-2, 11-2, 11-0, 11-6 win over brother Matt.
The hosts were in front of handicap by game seven but Paul Lipczak and Alan Hill conceded 57 points in games eight and nine, with 28 and 29 gained by Oli and Matt respectively.
This left 17 points required in the doubles but Lipczak and Terry responded with an excellent performance to win out 11-1, 11-4, 11-5, 11-2 over Oli and Matt for a nail-biting four-point victory in a thrilling cup tie.
Chesterwell D enjoyed an enhanced handicap due to visitors Higham Harriers A fielding Ian Bird and, after a tense struggle, they went down 421-415.
Whilst Johnathan Driscoll and Daniel Mann performed above handicap for the hosts, Duncan Wright found the going tough, gaining a mere 39 points.
The best individual performance for Chesterwell D was in game nine where Driscoll gained 34 points, drawing 2-2 with Graham Bird to leave then six behind at the doubles.
Ian Bird and Wooster won out 11-5, 11-10, 11-5, 10-11 over Driscoll and Mann to clinch an excellent match.
Wanderers D tend to put their poor league form behind them in this competition and they gained a good 396-368 victory over Westfield C.
The visitors were clear favourites at the end of game seven but Mike Howorth swung the balance, winning out 4-0 in an 11-7. 11-7, 11-10, 11-10 win over Mark Holly and Roger Ellingham shook off an earlier heavy defeat by Steve Fuller to further extend the advantage with a 11-7, 11-5, 9-11, 11-7 success over Mark Ramsden.
Thirty points in front at the doubles, Ellingham and Babbage held out with ease, drawing 11-8, 10-11, 3-11, 11-7 with Ramsden and Fuller.
Wanderers E produced arguably the performance of the round to beat the current holders WDHA Knightriders by 41 points with a 438-397 scoreline.
The visitors were consistent throughout, shaking off an opening blip when Kavish Dodhia gained 30 points in a 5-11, 5-11, 11-10, 9-11 defeat by David May.
All the other games saw the hosts slightly behind on handicap and leaving them 14 points behind at the doubles which was increased to 41 when Anish Patel and Bipasha Ganatra went down 6-11, 4-11, 2-11, 5-11 to May and Derek Shears.
The all-Higham Band clash went the way of the B team who recorded a 443-391 victory.
Devlin Whitmore must have wondered why he wasn’t ranked as an A team player as he opened with a stunning 11-4, 11-4, 11-4, 11-6 win over Deirdre Kiziak and drew 11-8, 6-11, 11-5, 6-11 with an in-form Pete Martin before adding salt to the wounds in a narrow 11-10, 10-11, 10-11, 10-11 defeat to Keith Stockley.
Raylee Burton and Stuart Futrill were roughly on handicap but the lower team cruised home by 53 points, one of the only three results to exceed the 50 mark.
On paper, 70 looked a generous handicap for visitors Chesterwell B but their normal good cup form deserted them and they were beaten in all but one game as WDHA Royals sealed a 403-368 success.
That game saw Graham Ellson win out 11-6, 11-5, 10-11, 10-11 over Abin Islam.
The best performance for the consistent hosts was in game nine when Ethan Ali saw off a below-par Carlton Ellwood 11-7, 11-6, 6-11, 11-2 to leave then 17 in front at the doubles which Virat Patel and Ali then won 11-10, 11-4, 11-8, 11-4 against Ellson and Ellwood.
As normal, the current champions and champions-elect Westfield A were given a stiff handicap which, against a determined Wanderers C side, they struggled with.
The match was always likely to be decided by the performances of the number three player and so it proved.
The hosts restricted Carl Singh to 36 which could have proved enough, but Patryk Polanski could not emulate his team-mates, conceding a massive 40 points in a shock 7-11, 11-7, 9-11, 8-11 defeat to Tony Wallis in game six.
Westfield, through Kevin and Nicole Bird, were left in the hunt but in game eight the underperforming Polanski dropped a further 35 points to put the game beyond reach.
Old Grammarians belied their position as bottom markers in Division Two and gained an excellent 437-391 victory over top-of-the-table Westfield B.
Game three saw Martin Rice gain a 4-0 success over Leigh Clements, winning out 11-6, 11-8, 11-5, 11-10 and with Colin Lord gaining a further five points in the next, sharing 11-10, 11-4, 10-11, 9-11, the writing was on the wall and OGs cruised home by 46.
Visitors St John A produced an excellent display by the visitors against a strong Division Two outfit in the form of WDHA Superkings.
Apart from game four, where Jack Baines won out 4-11, 11-10, 11-9, 11-5 over Jon Perkins, the consistent St John side gained points in every game.
Grant Timms, in fine form throughout, virtually assured victory when in game seven he saw off Bain 11-1, 11-5, 11-4, 11-8.
Four points in front at the doubles, Timms and Perkins increased the margin to 22 in an 11-7, 11-6, 11-9, 11-4 win over Tarun Mistry and Bain
In the past few years, Old Grammarians A have struggled in the cup but faced with a massive handicap against the league’s bottom markers Chesterwell E.
But OGS produced a ruthless display to win out by a surprisingly high 49 points.
Steve Kendall nearly got into the record books when he restricted Katie Coles to one point in game six.
Only one game exceeded the handicap when Mick Ball dropped 19 points to a persevering Peter Atkins.
Results: Chesterwell C (0) 425 Westfield D (rec 180) 435, Chesterwell A (0) 406 Wanderers A (15) 336, Wanderers B (0) 440 Stanwick VHTTC (180) 393, WDHA Challengers C (70) 465 Westfield E (0) 303, Higham Harriers B (180) 452 Thrapston (0) 412, St John B (0) 433 Higham Harriers C (220) 429, Chesterwell D (170) 415 Higham Harriers A (0) 421, Wanderers D (45) 396 Westfield C (0) 368, WDHA Knightriders D (180) 397 Wanderers E (0) 438, Higham Band B (120) 443 Higham Band A (0) 391, WDHA Royals A (0) 403 Chesterwell B (70) 368, Westfield A (0) 430 Wanderers C (285) 465, Westfield B (0) 391 Old Grammarians B (100) 437, WDHA Superkings B (100) 385 St John A (0) 407, Old Grammarians A (0) 440 Chesterwell (300) 391.