Having been reprieved from relegation, Higham Harriers A made a poor start to the new Division One season in the Wellingborough & District League as they were beaten 10-0 by an understrength Wanderers A side.
Tony Wharton scored an expected easy treble but debutant John Stamp and Jon Taylor-Burt also won with reasonable ease and no set went to five.
Barring a considerable improvement, it looks like being a hard slog for the Harriers trio of Graham Bird, Norman Wooster and Mick Malins.
WDHA Royals’ results tend to vary due to the liberal use of a rota system but they started with a good 8-2 win over Wanderers B with an excellent treble for Virat Patel who won in the minimum of nine ends.
Abin Islam was also unbeaten, winning out 13-11 and 11-7 in the fifth ends against Paul Goodman and Stewart Williams respectively.
Williams avoided a blank, seeing off Shyam Bavalia 12-10, 11-7, 4-11, 13-11 and gained a further point with Goodman winning out in the doubles against Islam and Patel.
With the return of Steve Kendall and Mick Ball hosts Old Grammarians A were placed back in the top division but opened with a 6-4 defeat to Thrapston.
With the visitors surprisingly fielding only two players, the hosts gained three points by default with Kendall winning out 11-8, 15-13, 11-7 over Chris Warliker but going down to Mark Stockley in the fifth.
The remaining singles saw Phil Laurence and Ball fail to register before they were heavily defeated by Warliker and Stockley in the doubles.
In recent years, Westfield have tended to concentrate on the Kettering League, but have always managed to field an A side who are title contenders, if not winners.
Their opening fixture confirmed this as they won out 8-2 against last year’s runners-up Chesterwell A.
Kevin Bird confirmed his status as the league’s top player with an easy treble.
However, the star for the hosts was Travis Holly who overcame Valdy Papiernik (8-11, 3-11, 11-6, 11-3, 11-1) and Stan Galkowski (12-10, 9-11, 9-11, 11-8, 11-8) for his best results to date. Although he lost out 11-9, 7-11, 4-11, 8-11 to Mike Pond.
Galkowski gained the second Chesterwell point with an 11-5, 11-7, 11-8 win over Patryk Polanski.
Results: WDHA Royals 8 (Abin Islam 3, Virat Patel 3, Shyam Bavalia 2) Wanderers B 2 (Stewart Williams, doubles Goodman/Williams), Old Grammarians A 4 (Steve Kendall, + 3 points by default) Thrapston 6 (Chris Warliker 2, Mark Stockley 3, doubles Warliker/Stockley), Westfield A 8 (Kevin Bird 3, Travis Holly 2, Patryk Polanski 2, doubles Bird/Polanski) Chesterwell A 2 (Mike Pond, Stan Galkowski), Wanderers A 10 (Tony Wharton 3, John Stamp 3, Jon Taylor-Burt 3, doubles Wharton/Stamp) Higham Harriers A 0.
With the league being restructured, last season’s Division Two champions WDHA Superkings have stayed at the level as it was felt that they would not be a sufficient standard to head into Division One just yet.
But they started the new campaign well with a 9-1 victory over St John B.
Milan Pandya and Tarun Mistry secured hat-tricks but were pushed all the way by Alan Hill, Mike Terry and Paul Lipczak, with no less than six of the nine singles sets going the distance.
Terry was only player to come out on the right side of a fifth end, defeating Jack Bain 7-11 for St John’s only point.
Another restructured side Westfield B are the old ‘C’ team and proved they are going for promotion with a 9-1 win over Higham Band A.
Mark Thomas and Charlie Clements were successful in not losing to any of the Band side, but Charlie Morrow lost out to Keith Stockley in game seven for Higham’s solitary point of the night.
The all-Wanderers clash went the way of the C team as they beat their D side 6-4.
Roger Ellingham, of the D team, secured a hat-trick against his higher-ranked club-mates and despite Mike Howorth only gaining another single to add to their tally, both he and Graham Babbage fought hard with lots of deuce end scores.
Higham Harriers B, who won promotion from Division Three as the C team last season, showed they are not keen on going back down as Phil Inman, Neil Stevens and Bob Collyer all claimed two wins each in their 6-4 success over Old Grammarians B.
This closely fought match needed the Old Grammarians to secure the doubles to close the scoreline, which they did in four ends.
For Grammarians, Martin Rice scored twice and Colin Lord once before they joined forces to add the doubles for their fourth point.
Results: WDHA Superkings 9 (Milan Pandya 3, Jack Bain 2, Tarun Mistry 3, doubles Pandya/Bain) St John B 1 (Mike Terry), Higham Band A 1 (Keith Stockley) Westfield B 9 (Mark Thomas 3, Charlie Clements 3, Charlie Morrow 2, doubles Clements/Thomas), Wanderers C 6 (James Findlay 2, Maurice Jones 2, Carl Sing, doubles Findlay/Jones) Wanderers D 4 (Roger Ellingham 3, Mike Howorth), Higham Harriers B 6 (Phill Inman 2, Neil Stevens 2, Bob Collyer 2) Old Grammarians B 4 (Martin Rice 2, Colin Lord, doubles Rice/Lord).
Higham Band B had a good start to the Division Three season as they easily beat WDHA Knightriders 9-1.
Raylee Burton lost the only point to Kavish Dodhia 9-11, 4-11, 9-11.
Neil Thompson and new signing Stuart Futrill both sealed convincing hat-tricks, although Dodhia took them both to four ends, and they then added the double in three ends over Dodhia and Bipasha Ganatra.
This was a start of two halves with four of the five matches played with a result of 9-1.
Hubert Malenda had a good start to his season for WDHA Challengers with all three of his sets going to five ends and he was victorious in two of them, defeating Derek Shears and Steve Hoole but losing out to Brian Pearce 6-11.
He was supported well by Rishan Ganatra, who secured the remaining point against Pearce, and taking Shears to five, bowing out 9-11.
But Wanderers E took all the other points on offer to claim a 7-3 victory.
Stanwick finished in second place last season and started their quest to top the table with a 9-1 win over Higham Harriers C (the renamed D side from last season).
Geoff Neville, for Stanwick, never looked troubled when winning his hat-trick by the quick route with Kevin Tivey also securing a treble.
Only Al Hayes had to settle for two points after losing out to Katie Hicks.
Two new players for Westfield E, Nicole King and Wendy Bradford, both won hat tricks and Stuart Rare won twice as they beat Westfield E 9-1.
For Chesterwell, Gordon Campbell, another new signing, took a point from Rae and also took King to five ends only to lose out 14-12 at the last hurdle.
Chesterwell D 9 v Westfield D 1
With Linda Freeman, hanging up her bat, it was left to stalwart Amrat Mistry to stop a complete rout with Westfield D’s only point of the night - a win against Duncan Wright in three ends 11-9, 11-8, 13-11.
But Chesterwell D secured a 9-1 success with Jonathan Driscoll - back in the league after some years - on the hat-trick trail, as was Daniel Mann, continuing where he left off last season. This pairing also added the doubles in three ends.
Results: WDHA Challengers 3 (Rishan Ganatra, Hubert Malenda 2) Wanderers E 7 (Steve Hoole 2, Brian Pearce 2, Derek Shears 2, doubles Hoole/Shears), WDHA Knightriders 1 (Kavish Dodhia) Higham Band B 9 (Neil Thompson 3, Stuart Futrill 3, Raylee Burton 2, doubles Thompson/Futrill), Higham Harriers C 1 (Katie Hicks) Stanwick VHTTC 9 (Geoff Neville 3, Kevin Tivey 3, Al Hayes 2, doubles Neville/Tivey), Chesterwell E 1 (Gordon Campbell) Westfield E 9 (Nicole King 3, Wendy Bradford 3, Stuart Rae 2, doubles Rae/King), Chesterwell D 9 (Jonathan Driscoll 3, Duncan Wright 2, Daniel Mann 3, doubles Driscoll/Mann) Westfield D 1 (Amrat Mistry).