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Senior British League 3rd Weekend - 14 January 2023

Cippenham’s two teams in the Senior British League enjoyed another good round of matches when they played host to the one-day third weekend of the season on Saturday. The first team won both matches to leapfrog the previous leaders to go top of National Division B-4 while the second team won one and lost one of their two matches and remain in the top half of Division C-5.

The Cippenham first team started the day with a match against Bristol-based WCBTT. Cippenham’s number one Robert Hansell got his team off to a good start with a solid 3-1 victory over Andy Smith but that lead was short-lived as team captain Martin Adams lost by a similar scoreline to Joe Ratajczak. The pivotal moments followed as the next three sets were all won by narrow margins. Firstly, Martin Gray came back from 2-1 down to defeat Tom Lewis and then Shae Thakker was in an even worse position, 2-0 down to Patrick Macfarlane, before reeling off the next three games to win 3-2. Robert and Martin Adams then beat Ratajczak and Smith in the doubles, also 11-8 in the fifth game, to secure Cippenham a hard-fought 4-1 lead in the match.

Robert then suffered a rare loss at the hands of Ratajczak before Martin Gray secured Cippenham’s overall victory beating Smith 3-0 in comfortable fashion. The match concluded 6-3 to Cippenham after Martin Adams had lost a close encounter with Macfarlane and Shae had beaten Lewis.

In the afternoon match Cippenham easily saw off bottom team Westfield 9-0 with every set being won 3-0 except for Robert's encounter with Roumen Stefanov. Meanwhile table toppers Somerset Sabres were losing both of their matches in the day and that allowed Cippenham to leapfrog their west country rivals to finish the session top of the division with four more matches to play during the concluding weekend in April.

The one disappointing result from the weekend saw Cippenham’s second team, comprised entirely of junior players, slip to defeat to local rivals Kingfisher, from Reading, 5-4 after having led 3-1. This was a match of fine margins with four of the nine sets requiring a deciding game and no set finishing 3-0. Krasi Ivanov gave Kingfisher a 1-0 lead in the opening set against Jamie Woodford but Cippenham came back strongly to lead 3-1 by virtue of William Saint’s win over Gary Morgan, Jaiden Caldeira over Dmitry Khakhamov and Rachael Iles over Jamie Barlow. However, it was a close-run thing with both William and Rachael’s victories only being secured 12-10 in the deciding games.

However, the luck ran out for Cippenham after that with a loss of the doubles and then two narrow defeats for William against Ivanov and Jamie against Khakhamov. Rachael then lost to Morgan to give Kingfisher an unassailable 5-3 lead before Jaiden made the final score 5-4 by beating Barlow. Jaiden’s brace earned him the player of the match award, a rare occurrence for a player on the losing side.

The afternoon match for the second team had been expected to be a very tough encounter against a team that came into the weekend with a one-hundred-percent record. However, this was not the case as Cardiff City Community travelled up from south Wales with a much weakened team and Cippenham ran out easy 9-0 winners. Cippenham were extended to a fifth game in only three sets and those were all after a match-winning 5-0 lead had been established. Jaiden was once again named player of the match and Cippenham go into the final weekend in fourth place in the table.

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