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Senior British League 2nd Weekend - 12/13 November 2016

Tony West
Cippenham II team talk
Kevin Gray
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Second team jump top then slump

Joy, then despair, were the emotions of the Cippenham second team when the Senior British League staged its second weekend of the season at Cippenham over the weekend. However, for the first team there was little joy, only despair, as they lost ground on the other teams in the relegation battle from the Championship Division.

Cippenham II started level on points but second on sets aggregate to National Division C-5 leaders Cardiff City III and faced those opponents in the very first match on Saturday morning. However, the match did not live up to its billing with Cippenham romping to a 7-3 victory with four of the sets being won by very comfortable 3-0 margins. Kevin Gray was the star for Cippenham, opening up with a 3-1 win over Cardiff number one Pouyan Javanmard and then later destroying Benedict Watson to give Cippenham an unassailable 6-2 lead. However, thing did not go so well for Cippenham at the start of the match with Tony West and Shae Thakker losing to Cade Short and Watson respectively and at that point Cardiff led the match 2-1.

Cippenham then reeled off the next five sets, dropping only three games in the process as Anthony Ellis, Tony and Kevin, helped by the two doubles sets, carved their way through the card. Shae then easily beat Ryan Crowley in the final set to conclude a fine team performance in which each of the four Cippenham players had won at least one of their singles plus a doubles.

Buoyed by this result, which saw Cippenham leapfrog Cardiff and take up top position, the next opponents were local rivals Ashford II. This was even more straight-forward for Cippenham and Kevin’s loss to Yun Song Cheang was the only one suffered by Cippenham who thrashed their local rivals 9-1.

A change of personnel for the Sunday matches saw Simon Vine and Paul Baker replace Tony West and Kevin Gray. This change weakened the Cippenham team, pushed Anthony Ellis up two places to number one, and was an important factor in a change of fortunes. To say that Sunday’s results, two 6-4 losses to Kingfisher III and a three-man Fusion II, were disappointing is an understatement but at the end of the weekend Cippenham are still in second place but now in a much more compressed table with only sets aggregate determining the second to fourth places.

The Kingfisher match was closely fought throughout with five of the ten sets being decided by either two or three points in the deciding game. Kingfisher won three of these while Cippenham stole the other two. The three locals in the Cippenham side, Simon, Shae and Paul won one singles each while Simon and Paul combined to win one of the doubles.

When Simon beat the Fusion number one Dimitry Khakhamov in the opening set of the final match, and with three walkovers to count later, effectively putting Cippenham 4-0 up, they could not have dreamt that all the other sets would go against them. However, that is exactly what happened with the doubles lost by Anthony and Shae from 2-0 up being the most frustrating.

On the other side of the playing hall, the Cippenham first team found that their opening opponents, Drumchapel Glasgow II, had brought a much stronger team than had crossed the border in the first weekend. Josh Bennett and Rob Hansell both beat Sephr Bidhari, the only player who had appeared back in September, but the Glasgow team ran though the rest of the card to make the final result 6-2.

Saturday afternoon saw Cippenham lose heavily 8-0 to championship contenders Urban I with only Martin Gray extending Adrien Costea to a fifth game. Cippenham were without a match on Sunday morning following the withdrawal from the league of Bristol Academy and then faced relegation contenders Wymondham in the afternoon. Josh Bennett won both of his matches, against husband and wife Neil and Lauren Charles and Martin Adams just held off Jake Collins 12-10 in the fifth. At that point Cippenham were 3-2 up and the taste of victory was getting stronger. Owe Karlsson then lost 3-1 to Ryan Collins to make it 3-3 and Martin was 2-0 against Lauren Charles but eventually lost 3-2. In the final set, Tom Windram led Jake Collins 2-1 but he too could not find the finishing line and Cippenham had lost important points in a 5-3 defeat.