Senior British League 4th weekend - 16/17 March 2019
Runners-up success for Cippenham
A successful final weekend of the Senior British League saw Cippenham leapfrog over rivals Waterside to finish the season as runners-up in National Division B-4. Cippenham went into the weekend in third place, level on points with Waterside but knowing that victory in the match between the two would most likely secure second position in the table. However, both sides had to play champions elect Ellenborough the day before the anticipated showdown.
Waterside were first to play Ellenborough on Saturday morning and lost 7-2. Meanwhile, Cippenham were engaged in a tough match with Foresters II and were made to work hard for a 5-4 win. This was enough to promote them into second place, at least for the time being. Cippenham have been strong at the top of the team all season and Martin Adams and Rob Hansell duly delivered again, each winning both their singles matches and combining for a win in the doubles. At the bottom of the team, Steve Munson and Ricky Hardcastle both failed to register a win although both their first matches went the distance of five games.
Come Saturday afternoon and it was Cippenham’s turn to face Ellenborough and what a fight they put up against the eventual champions. Rob got Cippenham off to the perfect start inflicting the season’s first defeat on Mitchell Jones, ranked 40 in England, 45 places above Rob. It was by the tightest of margins, 11-9 in the fifth game. Martin and Ricky then lost 3-0 to Andy Trott and Sam Cowan respectively but Steve equalised the score by beating Lukasz Lewandowski. Martin and Rob then won their customary doubles and Martin put Cippenham further ahead winning 15-13 in the decider, inflicting a second defeat on Jones. Cippenham were 4-2 up and needed just one more to clinch a fantastic victory. However, it was not to be as Rob suffered his first loss of the season when beaten by Cowan and Steve and Ricky were unable to prevent Trott and Lewandowski winning to give the Enfield-based team a narrow 5-4 victory. Meanwhile, Waterside were beating Horsham Spinners 5-4 to go ahead of Cippenham in the table once again.
Sunday morning and it was time for the showdown between Cippenham and Waterside with the likelihood that winner would take the runners-up medals. Robert Hansell suffered his second defeat against Nathan Bingham right at the start of the match and that put Cippenham up against it. It was a situation that brought out the finest fighting spirit and time after time Cippenham won the close encounters and ran out 8-1 victors with five of those eight sets being won by narrow margins in the fifth game. Martin Gray took the place of Ricky Hardcastle in the team for Sunday’s matches and was immediately named player of the match for his wins against Brian Hayes and Artur Caltabiano. Martin Adams beat Caltabiano and Bingham while Steve Munson rode his luck to defeat Mark Butler and Hayes. Rob’s win over Butler was the only match to finish 3-0.
Cippenham just had to win their final match of the season and mission was accomplished with another 8-1 win over Brighton II. The only set that got away was when Steve lost to Brandon Bennett, otherwise Martin A, Rob and Martin G all completed their braces. In the doubles, Martin A and Rob maintained their unbeaten record for the season, 10 wins from 10.