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Senior British League 1st Weekend - 10/11 September 2016

Simon Vine
Shae Thakker
Josh Bennett
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Shae, Simon and Paul inspire second team

There were mixed fortunes for the two Cippenham teams when the Senior British league season got underway at the weekend. Both teams held home advantage, something the second team will enjoy all season as all the matches in their division are to be played at Cippenham. The first team will play two weekends at Cippenham and the other two in Harlow.

 

The tables were turned from last season as, this time, it was the second team that were successful, gaining seven points out of eight from their four matches in National Division C-5. Following a restructure of the League, the Cippenham first team were awarded a place in the prestigious Championship Division but failed to pick up a point during the first weekend.

 

Saturday morning had started promisingly for Cippenham firsts as Josh Bennett and Martin Adams put them 2-0 up against Wymondham with wins against Lauren Charles and Neil Charles respectively. However, things went against Cippenham from that point. Josh secured his brace  with a straight-forward win over Neil Charles but that was all Cippenham could muster as the match was lost 5-3. Robert Hansell, against Lauren Charles, one of four of the top eight England women on show at Cippenham over the weekend, and Tom Windram, against Jake Collins, both recovered from 2-0 down to square 2-2 but neither could win that all-important fifth game.

 

Cippenham then lost 8-0 in the afternoon against Nottingham Sycamore, one of three teams running away at the top of the division and then on Sunday morning it was division leaders London Academy who inflicted a 7-1 defeat with only Martin Adams registering for Cippenham.

 

Josh, last year’s player of the year in Division 1 South, concluded his personal weekend in style with wins against David Barr and Marcus Giles but Kingfisher, local rivals from Reading,  ran out 5-3 winners for a disappointing result for Cippenham. Owe Karlsson got Cippenham’s other set against former England junior champion Daniel Basterfield. Both Martin Adams and Martin Gray found England number four lady Maria Tsaptsinos far too strong and both lost 3-0.

 

Across the other side of the hall it was all very different for the Cippenham second team. After several lean seasons, the team was placed in the restructured National Division C-5. Due to unavailability of some players, Tony West and Anthony Ellis were drafted in and both performed well. However, it was the encouraging winning performances from locals Shae Thakker, Simon Vine and Paul Baker that really inspired the team.

 

Thirteen-years old Shae was truly inspired , winning six of his eight matches during the weekend while Simon, who played only on Saturday was unbeaten. Paul came in for Sunday and the team captain won three of his four matches.

 

The weekend kicked off against Fusion III. This was a hard fought match in which four of the tem sets required a deciding fifth game. However, Cippenham stayed ahead of the game winning three of their sets 3-0. No more than one set separated the teams until at 5-4 to Cippenham, the youngster Shae was given the opportunity to make a name by clinching the second league point. It took five games and the hard-working Shae had to come back from 2-1 down to secure the win 11-6 in the fifth.

 

Saturday afternoon proved a lot more straight-forward as Cippenham strolled past Haywards Heath II 8-2. Simon maintained his unbeaten performance on the day and Tony West also chipped in with two easy wins. Shae also picked up his two while Anthony Ellis won once and the doubles sets were shared.

 

The toughest match of the weekend was against Haywards Heath I on Sunday morning. Agonisingly, Cippenham lost four sets by two points in the fifth game and, as a result, had to settle for a 5-5 draw, failing just short of the winning line. Two of these narrow losses were in the final two sets after Cippenham had opened up a 5-3 lead. This was a team effort with all four players contributing a singles win apiece while the doubles were shared between the two teams.

 

After Cippenham went behind 2-0, both by two points in the fifth game, Shae and Paul then inspired a resurgence and a 7-3 win over Okehampton Oilers in the final match. Anthony also won once while Cippenham secured both doubles for a final result that sees them second in the division table, separated only on sets aggregate from the leaders Cardiff City III.

Shae Thakker