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Senior British League 4th Weekend - 18/19 March 2017

Second team finishes the season well

The Senior British League season concluded over the weekend with contrasting fortunes for Cippenham’s two teams. The first team have struggled all season to come to terms with an exceptionally strong Championship Division while the second team won six out of eight points, despite having players unavailable, to finish strongly in National Division C-5.

With Simon Vine injured and Shae Thakker away at a national training camp, Cippenham’s second team’s resources were stretched beyond their limits. The club had to reach outside of its core membership for an additional player and found Josh Bleakley who performed very well and fitted into the side nicely. For Sunday’s matches, this was still not enough and Club Secretary Graham Trimming had to add to his organisational duties by also turning out for the team.

Saturday morning brought a fairly straight-forward 8-2 win over Okehampton Oilers. The Devon side have struggled all season and were no match for a Cippenham team who lost only the first and last sets. Josh started slowly, losing to Joe Cheung but then Tony West, Anthony Ellis, Paul Baker and two doubles victories brought the score to 8-1 before Paul lost out in the final rubber to young Fraser Kent.

Next up was a match against the then divisional leaders Cardiff City III. However, when the dust settled after a great Cippenham performance the Welsh team had been knocked off their perch with a 6-4 defeat. Tony and Josh got the home side off to a great start with 3-0 wins over Benedict Watson and Pouyan Javanmard. The diminutive Anna Hursey got one back for Cardiff against Anthony before Paul came back from 2-1 down to beat Ryan Crowley 3-2 and put Cippenham 3-1 ahead. That became 4-1 to Cippenham with a win in the top doubles but the second doubles went the way of the visitors. Tony then demolished Javanmard in double quick time but then Watson restored Cardiff’s hopes by beating Anthony. It came down to a fifth game win for Josh over the luckless Crowley to secure the win for Cippenham and in the dead rubber, Paul lost to the young starlet Hursey, already ranked 7 in Wales’ senior women’s list despite being only 10 years of age!

With Tony West absent and playing for the first team on Sunday, everyone moved up one position and Graham Trimming came into the team at number four. Sunday morning’s opponents were local rivals Ashford II. However, Cippenham were too strong for Ashford at the top of the team and Josh and Anthony won all four of their singles and their doubles to give Cippenham five sets. Paul disappointingly lost to Alex Gough and Graham, despite taking an end off both opponents, was not able to add a singles. However, in the doubles, Paul and Graham swept to a great 3-0 win over Michael Silver and Katya Manavska to give Cippenham both points in a 6-4 win.

Cippenham’s win against Cardiff on Saturday had put Kingfisher in a strong position to pinch the title and this was something they, with their strongest available line-up on display, was not something they intended to pass up. Three of the first five sets were lost in the fifth game and, at that stage the match was up. In the end, Kingfisher ran out 8-2 winners against Cippenham and duly collected their title.

After so narrowly losing out on the Division 1 South title last year, and play-off place for entry to the Premier Division, this season in the newly created Championship Division has been a bit of an eye-opener for the first team. The division has been exceptionally strong, not least because some teams elected not to go into the revamped home and away Premier Division and opted, instead, to play in the sessional Championship Division. That being said, twelve defeats from twelve matches, with exactly the same squad as last year, has been hard to take and relegation to National Division A next year will be eagerly anticipated.

The final throes of an undistinguished season saw losses 7-1 to Kingfisher I, 6-2 to Drumchapel Glasgow II and, finally, 8-0 to champions Urban I. Owe Karlsson, Martin Adams and Martin Gray had a win apiece over the weekend.

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