Senior British League 4th Weekend - 9-10 April 2022

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The British League season is over with the Cippenham first team excelling in finishing in runners-up spot in the Senior British League National Division B-4. After a very good season and coming into the final weekend in second place, all Cippenham had to do was to hold their nerve and the runners-up medals would be theirs. And that is exactly what they did.

The season was a personal triumph for Cippenham’s number two, Robert Hansell, who won twenty-three of his twenty-six individual matches to finish second for the divisional award for most wins, eclipsed only by the unbeaten record of Ormeau’s Zak Earley. Unfortunately, as Earley was also the number two player for his team, those two outstanding players did not meet each other during the season. It could have been an interesting battle. Robert’s three defeats all came in the first weekend of the season back in September, a time when all players were finding their way after eighteen months of inactivity. After that, Robert’s unbeaten run stretched to eighteen matches and resulted in him being named player of the match in each of Cippenham’s last eight matches, despite his team being on the wrong end of the result on two occasions.

The opening match of the final weekend saw the top two teams in the division pitched against each other. Belfast-based Ormeau 2nds were the outstanding team in the division all season but Cippenham gave them a true test before losing 6-3. Robert Hansell, of course, won both his matches against Thomas Earley and Daryl Strong, while Cippenham captain Martin Adams also beat Thomas Earley. Martin Gray was particularly unlucky in losing both his matches 11-9 in the fifth game, even threatening to take away Zak Earley’s unbeaten record.

It was back to winning ways on Saturday afternoon against Somerset Sabres. Cippenham beat the west country side 7-2 with Robert Hansell and Martin Gray winning both their matches. Martin Adams saw off a determined challenge from Sabres’ number one Bertie Kelly 12-10 in the fifth, after losing the fourth game by the incredible score of 24-22 (!), and Steve Munson wrapped up the match beating David Hadley 3-1.

There was a disappointing loss on Sunday morning, 6-3 against a resurgent Haywards Heath team that won all four matches over the weekend. Robert, retained his unbroken run of victories against Amila Thilakarathna and Keigo Burnham but only Steve managed to add to this with a last-gasp win over Marc Burman. Cippenham lost four sets in the deciding game and that made all the difference.

Urban 2nds were unable to field a side on Sunday afternoon providing Cippenham with a walkover to complete the season.