Dariusz Gulbicki’s surprise win over Kevin Bird couldn’t stop Westfield A heading into the winter break at the summit of the Kettering & District Table Tennis League Premier Division as they thrashed Burton Baptist A 9-1.
A 1-0 lead was as good as it got for the hosts as the reigning champions reeled off nine straight games, Nicole Bird scoring yet another maximum.
Alex Aston threatened a surprise success when he led 2-1 over Roumen Stefanov, but Bulgarian fought back to win the last two ends 11-7, 11-5.
Westfield B ensured they go into the break on a positive note after a hard-fought 6-4 win over Corby B.
Sam Wildman was the star as he remained unbeaten, including a narrow 11-8 deciding game win over Guy Sparrow.
Sparrow picked up good wins over Matt Rushton and Richie Bailey, before Bailey put the hosts in front with a fine result over Henry Arthur.
It looked like ending 5-5 when Sparrow and Aaron Moore led the doubles 2-0, but Wildman and Bailey took control to win out 11-5, 11-7, 11-8 and claim the win.
Chris Haynes claimed the scalp of John Fuller but it wasn’t enough as Corby A went down 8-2 to Kettering Town A.
Haynes bagged a brace by beating Mike Hawes, but found maximum man Nigel Metcalfe a bridge too far.
Kyle Murie was winless but he surprisingly took Fuller to the full distance and also fell as the last to Hawes.
Mick Allsopp made a return to his former club as he helped Higham beat Harborough A 8-2.
He failed to win all three though, losing in four ends to Barry Thompson.
Nathan Thompson picked up the host’s second point, scraping home 3-2 against Andy Harrison.
Results: Burton Baptist A 1 (Gulbicki) Westfield A 9 (N Bird 3, Stefanov 3, K Bird 2, K Bird/Stefanov), Westfield B 6 (Wildman 3, Bailey 2, Wildman/Bailey) Corby B 4 (Sparrow 2, Arthur, Moore), Kettering Town A 8 (Metcalfe 3, Fuller 2, Hawes 2, Fuller/Metcalfe) Corby A 2 (Haynes 2), Harborough A 2 (B Thompson, N Thompson) Higham 8 (Elliott 3, Allsopp 2, Harrison 2, Elliott/Allsopp).
Team of the week: Westfield A.
Player of the week: Nicole Bird.
There was a changing of the guard at the top of Division One as Thrapston Eagles returned to the top for the first time since week four - partly due to the way the fixtures were scheduled and partly due to Steve Hobbs’ unavailability for Westfield C.
Eagles, on paper, had a much easier fixture against Harborough D and would have hoped for a maximum 10 points.
And that is what they achieved, although Harborough did put up a fight and even won the first game of a set three times.
Phil Dixon gave Chris Warliker a scare by going 2-1 up before Warliker won two close games.
Dixon also won a game against Mark Stockley and Jamie Burgess won the first game against Warliker and Ian Donaldson.
Westfield C have been top for most of the first half of the season, but with Hobbs needing an operation and therefore being unavailable this immediately became a challenge.
The impact was immediate as they took on last season’s champions and third-placed Harborough B and lost 6-4.
Harborough’s Mike Brocklebank was the man of the match with the only treble, although this did not come easily especially as he was taken to a deciding game against Chris Alder.
Liam Burnham only conceded 11 points in three games against Alder on the way to a brace as he also beat Nitin Patel in three closer games.
Paul Malpass also got a brace as he also beat Steve Crook, as did Alder and Patel for singles wins, and then Burnham and Brocklebank combined to win the doubles 3-0 and seal the match 6-4.
Thrapston Falcons were slight favourites to beat Burton Baptist D as the two teams were fourth and fifth respectively in the table before the match.
It was a case of Burton being the better starters and Falcons being the better team at the end of the sets when it mattered.
This trend started in the first two sets of the match as Derek Muggleton and Steve Smith both went 2-0 up against Ian Baldock and Antony Marray only for the Falcons players to win 3-2.
In set three it looked like a case of deja vu as one of the top players in Division Two Harry Lade went 2-0 up on Alan Tyler before Tyler levelled it at 2-2.
This time Lade managed to secure the team’s first win by the close margin of 12-10 in the fifth.
Falcons ended up winning the match 7-3 with Marray the star man with the only treble and Baldock and Smith claiming braces.
Thrapston Kites’ season continues to improve and they have moved above Burton Baptist D into fifth following an impressive 8-2 victory over eighth-placed Harborough C.
Stewart Williams and Peter Briggs got trebles for the loss of one and two games respectively. Harborough C’s two points were earned by Sam Burgess and Phil Dixon both beating Geoff Judd 3-1.
Stephen Woolston was the man of the match when Corby C took on Burton C as he impressively dispatched both David Simmons and Paul Goodman 3-0 before completing his treble by winning 11-8 in the fifth game against Kelvin Marshall.
However, Woolston did not get enough support from his team-mates as junior Dan Bottrill lost 3-0 to both Goodman and Marshall, although he did have a good 3-1 win over the vastly more experienced Simmons.
Rob Warrender made his first appearance of the season only playing in the doubles with Woolston but they found Goodman and Marshall too steady for them and Burton Baptist C won 6-4.
In a relegation battle, bottom team Rothborough Comets were up against Rothborough Buccaneers.
This match followed a similar pattern as the one between Burton Baptist D and Thrapston Falcons as underdogs Comets were much better at the start of sets than they were at the end.
Staggeringly they won the first game in each of the first five sets and six in all but ended up 8-2 losers as Buccaneers won three sets with a deciding game.
Sean Smith got a treble as expected although he had to come back from 2-1 down to beat Lauren Ainsworth.
Pete Sturges and Ainsworth earned Comets’ two points by beating Lee Mordecai and Gareth Lewis 3-1.
The result leaves Comets increasingly likely to finish bottom being 14 points below Harborough D and Buccaneers moving towards safety as they are now 11 points above the Harborough side.
Results: Thrapston Eagles 10 (Donaldson 3, Warliker 3, Stockley 3, Donaldson/Stockley) Harborough D 0, Harborough B 6 (Brocklebank 3, Burnham 2, Burnham/Brocklebank) Westfield C 4 (Malpass 2, Alder, Patel), Burton Baptist D 3 (Smith 2, Lade) Thrapston Falcons 7 (Marray 3, Baldock 2, Tyler, Baldock/Marray), Thrapston Kites 8 (Briggs 3, Williams 3, Judd, Briggs/Williams) Harborough C 2 (S.Burgess, Dixon), Corby C 4 (Woolston 3, Bottrill) Burton Baptist C 6 (Goodman 2, Marshall 2, Simmons, Goodman/Simmons), Rothborough Comets 2 (Sturges, Ainsworth) Rothborough Buccaneers 8 (Smith 3, Lewis 2, Mordecai 2, Lewis/Smith).
Players of the week: Mike Brocklebank and Antony Marray.
Team of the week: Thrapston Eagles.
Rothborough Dakotas beat Old 7-3 again in Division Two with Pete Sturges stepping in to the team to gain a hat-trick.
And with Tony Yeomans and Pete Rowbotham also playing well and getting a brace each, it was a comfortable win.
With Dakotas winning the first four and seven of the first eight it showed good spirit for Old to win the last singles – Beth Tyler’s second of the night - and the doubles with Tyler and Charlie Edwards to equal the previous score.
Old have won three from the last five doubles and are accumulating useful extra points this way.
Corby D overcame Westfield D 8-2 but the visiting team took the two longest games, both involving Charlie Clements.
In the second, Clements (ranked 94) defeated Tom Cardwell (81) from behind, then, paired with Sidney Wright, overcame the two Kens in five; Ken Knott and Ken Murie both having obtained trebles in the singles.
Although halfway through the season and bottom of the table, Westfield have yet to score a blank and it was Wright as so often this season with her victory over Ben Baker in the only game to go the distance which prevented that situation again against Harborough E.
That victory avenged an earlier defeat but Baker turned over his previous defeat to Evie Elliott to make amends and then Ron Palfrey beat Wright to get his personal revenge and a maximum to match John McGowan.
Performance of the week was Old ‘s victory over previously unbeaten Burton’s Team Jim.
Mike Burrows made his seasonal debut to make a significant difference with a double and Harry Lade’s promotion to the D team may also have told.
Jacob Tattersall’s defeat of Burrows helped with a good start but Ben Freeman’s unlucky losses in five to both Burrows and Beth Tyler, on her way to another hat-trick, and only Team Jim’s second doubles defeat, sealed the win for Old and moved them closer to the middle of the table for a push in the second half of the season.
Rothborough Exocets’ win over Kettering Town B also concertinas the middle of the table with Lee Mordecai the standout performer with his second triple, and he then teamed up with Dave Marshall for the deciding doubles.
Marshall and Helmut Salander, playing for the first time since week five, also beat Ann Woolston who had a rare blank week.
Jim Chatburn and Barry Davis got a pair each but couldn’t prevent Exocets overturning the earlier 7-3 loss.
Dakotas, in second, lead Corby, in third, by two points when they hosted them at Montsaye.
Results: Burton Baptist Team Jim 4 (Tattersall 2, Freeman, B Lade) Old Village 6 (Tyler 3, Burrows 2, Burrows/Tyler), Corby D 8 (Knott 3, Murie 3, Cardwell 2) Westfield D 2 (Clements, Clements/Wright), Kettering Town B 4 (Chatburn 2, Davis 2) Rothborough Exocets (Mordecai 3, Marshall, Salander, Marshall/Mordecai), Old Village 3 (Tyler 2, Edwards/Tyler) Rothborough Dakotas 7 (Sturges 3, Rowbotham 2, Yeomans 2), Harborough E 9 (McGowan 3, Palfrey 3, Baker 2, Baker/McGowan) Westfield D 1 (Wright).
Player of the week: Charlie Clements.
Team of the week: Old Village.
Players are reminded that entry forms are being circulated for the 2016 Kettering League tournament. They are also available online.
The tournament will take place on Saturday, February 6 at Westfield’s Weavers Leisure Centre home.
The closing date for entries is Friday, January 22, with the draw expected to be made on January 25. No entries will be accepted once the draw has been made.