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Senior British League 1st Weekend - 1-2 October 2022

The new Senior British League table tennis season commenced at the weekend with, this year, two teams representing the Cippenham club. In addition to the traditional first team, comprising the same four players as last season plus Shae Thakker, a new second team has been entered. This second team is made up entirely of junior players and will help the club’s younger players bridge the gap between junior and senior table tennis. Both teams acquitted themselves well during the first weekend with the first team winning three of its four matches while the second team won twice.

The first team, playing in National Division B-4, started with a 6-3 victory over Fusion 4 for whom their number one player, Tanyi Yu, contributed both his singles sets and the doubles. For Cippenham, Martin Gray and Shae Thakker, playing at three and four respectively in the team, won twice while Robert Hansell, elevated to number one this season after his incredible run of success last season, and Martin Adams won one each. Shae dropped his first game to Francesco Bonato before winning 3-1 while all the other six sets that came Cippenham’s way were 3-0. Martin Gray was awarded player of the match.

WCBTT were Cippenham’s opponents on Saturday afternoon. Martin Adams lost the opening set of the match to Joe Ratajczak but from then on Cippenham went on a romp, eventually winning 8-1. Only Tom Lewis, who took Martin Gray to deuce in the deciding game, offered much resistance.

For the matches on Sunday, Martin Gray, who had won all four matches on Saturday, was replaced by Steve Munson. The first four encounters in the opening match against Westfield were shared, Robert and Shae easily accounting for Nicole Bird and Matthew Horrocks respectively, but losses for Martin Adams, against Roumen Stefanov, and Steve, against Kevin Bird, left the score at 2-2. However, Cippenham upped their game and won the remaining five sets with the loss of only two games to take the points with a 7-2 victory. Robert, who won his two matches comfortably, was named player of the match as he had been also on Saturday afternoon.

Sitting top of the table after three matches, confidence was high but that was to come tumbling down against Somerset Sabres in the final match of the weekend. Only Shae, with a 3-0 win over Marcus Holba, scored for Cippenham in an 8-1 defeat. Shae was Cippenham’s most successful player during the weekend, winning seven of his eight individual matches, but that defeat dropped Cippenham down to third place in the table and elevated Somerset up to second.

The new young second team were allocated into National Division C-5 and, like the first team, will play all their matches at Cippenham this season as the local club has been selected to host both divisions.

Their weekend commenced with a match against Foresters 3. The match begun with a nervous Cippenham team losing all the first three sets even though they were not outclassed. Cippenham’s first taste of success came just after as Rachael Iles easily beat Berry Cheer but the next two sets, the doubles and William Saint’s singles against Lewis Mayhew were lost and the points were gone. However, Cippenham rallied and Jamie Woodford, on his sixteenth birthday, beat Sarah Hilditch, Rachael lost narrowly against Yakup Yildizlar before Jaiden Caldeira secured his first win against Cheer to make the final result 6-3 to Foresters.

In the afternoon Cippenham were faced with local rivals Kingfisher 2 from Reading. This time Cippenham got off to a better start with William beating Dmitry Khakhamov, Rachael beating Tejas Mungale and Jaiden getting the better of Jamie Barlow. Interspersed with this was a loss for Jamie against the more experienced Gary Morgan but Cippenham were 3-1 up after the first round of singles. The doubles was lost but William restored Cippenham’s advantage with a narrow win over Morgan. Khakhamov reduced the arrears for Kingfisher against Rachael but Jamie made sure that his team collected their first league points of the season beating Barlow. The final score was 5-4 to Cippenham after Jaiden lost a very close match against Mungale.

Anna Piercey replaced Rachael for Sunday’s matches and the results followed a similar pattern to the previous day. In the morning Cippenham lost 6-3 to Cardiff City having again lost the first three singles. Jaiden then beat Rhys Fidler and Cippenham’s other successes came later on when Jamie beat Evan O’Connor and Anna beat Fidler.

A very satisfactory weekend ended on an extreme high with an excellent 8-1 victory over Horsham Spinners 3. The only set to elude Cippenham came when Anna lost to Roger Pingram, otherwise it was a clean sweep for Jamie, William and Jaiden. The match was not without its controversy, however, as referee Ken Phillips, having shown a plethora of yellow and red cards to Leo Veinsreider throughout the weekend for various misdemeanours, finally disqualified the Horsham player during his match against William after an altercation during which Veinsreider claimed an edge-ball, something that not even his own team-mates supported.

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