top of page

Junior British League 1st Weekend - 14-15 October 2023

The third consecutive weekend marking the start of the British League season saw the turn of junior teams from around the country converging on Derby Arena, including two boys’ and a girls’ team from Cippenham.

​The girls were the highest placed of Cippenham’s teams, being allocated into Division 1, just one step lower than the Premier Division. As such, it was a tough assignment especially for Mia Lakhani who, as Cippenham’s number one, had to play the top two players from some of the best teams in the country. Mia won three of her ten matches throughout the weekend, as did Anna Piercey, while Cippenham’s number two Rachael Iles was the star performer with seven wins to her name.

​Cippenham girls started the weekend well with a great 5-1 win over Bribar Crewe Central with two wins for Rachael and Mia with Anna suffering defeat only 11-9 in the deciding game. A 5-1 reverse followed at the hands of Grantham College 2, the leaders of the division after this first weekend of matches. Rachael won Cippenham’s solitary set. The final Saturday encounter followed a similar course with Rachael once again Cippenham’s only winner in another 5-1 defeat, this time against Draycott 2.

​Sunday morning saw a refreshed Cippenham bounce back with a great 5-1 win over Ormeau, a team from Belfast, Northern Ireland. Rachael and Anna led the way for Cippenham with two wins each while Mia added another. 5-1 appeared to have become the order of the day in Cippenham’s results as the final match of the weekend resulted in another defeat to London Academy 2. All three defeats across the weekend had come against the second teams of clubs whose first teams were operating in the Premier Division. As Head Coach Ken Phillips remarked “it was a tough division against teams from some of the biggest clubs in the country”.

​Cippenham’s two boys’ teams had a new look about them this season. Of last year’s players, Jaiden Caldeira had become over-age and the other two, William Saint and Jamie Woodford were split so that the much-improved William could play in a higher division. To make this possible, two players were recruited from outside the club’s core membership to partner William, while Jamie led the new second team with Louis Alexander and George Driscoll promoted to the Junior British League from having played previously in the lower grade National Junior League.

​The boys’ first team acquitted themselves well in Division 2, winning three of their five matches and, despite finishing in only fourth position, are only two points behind the divisional leaders. Benjamin Dunkley played superbly throughout winning nine of his ten matches while William Saint won seven times and Ryan Chung twice.

​Saturday was a great day as Cippenham won all three matches they played. Lillington were the first to suffer, the eventual divisional leaders suffering their only defeat of the weekend, beaten 4-2, with Benjamin and William both bagging a brace each. After lunch Grantham Academy 3 were put to the sword as Cippenham ran out easy 6-0 winners and the day ended with another 4-2 victory, this time against Fusion 2. Cippenham thus finished day one with maximum points and with Benjamin and William having won all their individual matches.

​Unfortunately, Sunday proved to be a different story. William suffered his first defeats of the weekend as Cippenham lost 4-2 to Draycott 2 in the morning match despite Benjamin prevailing in his two encounters, both close matches that required deciding games. Later, though, Benjamin suffered his only defeat in the final match as he and William won one each for Cippenham in another 4-2 defeat against Woodford Wells.

The Cippenham boys’ second team were placed in Division 7 and finished the first weekend in fourth place out of eight. Jamie Woodford led his team well and contributed eight wins from his ten individual matches while debutants Louis Alexander, with five wins from nine, and George Driscoll, who won twice, provided the back-up.

​Cippenham won their first and last matches of the weekend while sandwiched in between were two draws and a solitary defeat. Jamie and Louis won twice each, backed up by one from George as Cippenham defeated Wood Green 5-1 in the opening match. Player of the match Jamie maintained his unbeaten record against Ashford, including a 13-11 fifth-game opening win over Ernie Kemp. Jamie also beat Siva Pranav Ghanta and Louis secured a draw for his side in the final set of the match against Owenxander Ballad. Cippenham’s only defeat came late on Saturday, 4-2 against local rivals from Reading, Kingfisher 2.

​Sunday opened up with Cippenham’s second drawn match, 3-3 with Bribar Cleve Park. This was a complete all-round team effort with all three players contributing one win apiece. It was left to George to keep his nerve and pull off a 11-9 fifth-game win over Nilay Balaji to secure that precious league point. In the final match of the weekend, Draycott 3 were able to field only two players and therefore contributed two walkovers in Cippenham’s 4-2 win. Jamie made sure of maximum points for his team by straight-sets wins over both opponents.

bottom of page