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Senior British League 2nd weekend - 30 November/1 December 2019

Understrength Cippenham slip away

An under-strength Cippenham team slipped away from the leading positions in the Senior British League and now occupy fourth position in National Division B-4 following the weekend’s matches. With Rob Hansell away and Martin Gray becoming unavailable on the Wednesday before, it was a patched up Cippenham team that took to the tables. Ricky Hardcastle and Maciej Dlugozima, two members of the Cippenham Trojans team that lead the way in the Maidenhead League this season, were hurriedly signed up and shared the number four position in the team.

Cippenham started the weekend well with victory in the first match but then suffered defeats in each of the remaining three. Team captain Martin Adams was in superlative form throughout, winning seven of his eight individual singles matches and sharing doubles success with Shae Thakker three times out of four. However, backup came in the form of just two singles wins each from Steve Munson and Shae and nothing at all from the fourth position, although this was not really a surprise.

The highlight of the weekend came early on with a 5-4 victory over bottom team Brighton 2. Martin got Cippenham off to the perfect start against Brandon Bennett but Steve found the Brighton captain and coach Pedro Santos too hot to handle. Shae restored Cippenham’s lead with an easy win over Teresa Bennett and Ricky should have extended that lead. However, after winning the first two games against Jodie Morris, and leading 9-7 in the third and then 5-1 in the fifth game the young Brighton player fought back to win 11-9 in the decider. By the time Martin had played a doubles and his second singles, Cippenham had opened up a two-set advantage and led 4-2. Shae seemed to be well on his way to securing the much required win when he won the first two games against Brandon Bennett but, like Ricky before him, that was a case of flattering to deceive and it was left to Steve to secure the team win against Morris.

The match on Saturday afternoon was a tough encounter against Haywards Heath who now lead the division after the weekend. Martin was once again in majestic form, winning all his three matches including the doubles alongside Shae. Martin’s match against the opponents’ top player, Amila Thilakarathna, was a classic with the Cippenham player recovering from two games down to win in five, including an extraordinary fourth game that finished 18-16. Cippenham’s chance of victory, albeit a slim one, probably disappeared when Shae lost 14-12 in the fifth game against Harry Yip, a match that could have gone either way and the final result was a 7-2 loss.

Waterside, a club from Southampton, were Cippenham’s opponents on Sunday morning. Martin tasted defeat for the only time in the weekend, in singles to Wojciech Placek and in doubles, with Shae, to Placek and Wiktor Dzwonkowski. He beat Dzwonkowshi in their singles encounter but Cippenham’s only further success, in a 7-2 defeat, came when Steve beat William Poulter deuce in the fifth. Shae was a little unlucky to lose out to Brian Hayes over five games while Ricky won the first game in both his matches but ultimately lost them both 3-1.

The final match of the weekend was probably the best spectacle, even though it ended with Cippenham losing 4-5 to Portishead, a team from Somerset. Martin again won his three events with help in the doubles from Shae but it was a close run thing against Joe Ratajczak, Martin winning 11-8 in the fifth game. Shae gave Cippenham hope with a 12-10 fifth game win against Josh Gallen but the tables were turned when faced with James Rule. With Cippenham leading 4-3, it was the Portishead player who finally ruled the day winning by an identical margin in the decider. Maciej was faced with the prospect of securing both points for his team if he could beat Gallen but, try as he did, this was a step too far.

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