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Veterans' British League 2nd Weekend - 18/19 February 2017

Simon Vine
Runners-up Division 4B
Martin Adams
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Second team runners-up in division

It was another successful weekend for Cippenham’s two men’s teams as the Veterans’ British League season concluded at Derby. Building on from strong performances in the first weekend back in September, the first team finished third in Division 1A while the second team went one better and secured the runners-up medals in Division 4B, earning promotion to Division 3 for next season.

First team captain Martin Adams had an especially fruitful weekend, winning nine of his ten matches and was well backed up by Mark Banks, who won seven, and Martin Gray, who won six. As a team they won three of their five matches and drew the other two.

The first team started by beating Redlands Bats 4-2 in a close and competitive match and then swept aside Border Reivers 6-0 on Saturday afternoon. However, divisional champions Norwich were a different prospect in the later match and Neil Charles inflicted on Martin Adams his only defeat of the weekend as the match was drawn 3-3 with all three Cippenham players contributing to the scoreline.

The match that ultimately decided between second and third place was played on Sunday morning. Martin Adams was again in great form as he beat both David Buck and Hari Gehlot and Mark Banks beat former Cippenham player Steve Buck. However, Martin Gray lost to both of the Buck brothers and the match was drawn 3-3. The weekend concluded with another 6-0 romp over Topspin Fusion. However, the match was not as one-sided as might first appear as Cippenham won three sets close in the deciding game.

Division 4B started with three teams locked on eight points at the top of the division and the matches that were important in deciding the medal positions were played out between these three with the Cippenham second team playing both the other two protagonists on Sunday. Saturday’s matches, against the three teams in the lower half of the table, were all won. Drax were the first to suffer at Cippenham’s hands, being beaten 5-1 on Saturday morning. Ilfracombe Pirates put up a little more resistance before succumbing 4-2 and then OLOP 2 were defeated 5-1 in the evening. Team captain Paul Baker was undefeated on the Saturday, winning all of his four matches.

The crunch came on Sunday morning against Foresters D. The pivotal game came right at the start of play with Christos Hannides losing 3-2 to Alex Rorke. Mike Rhodes equalised for Cippenham against Roger Pingram and later Christos got the better of Daniel Lucking but this was not enough as Foresters ran out 4-2 winners.

The final match of the weekend, on Sunday afternoon, would decide second and third positions. Cippenham went into match having dropped to third place following the defeat in the morning and needed to beat Bristol Associates if they were to secure the runners-up position. Mike got Cippenham off to the perfect start, beating Mark Farrow 3-0 but Anthony Briscoe responded for Bristol against Christos. Then followed a run of three sets that determined the final outcome. All three sets went to a deciding fifth games and all were ultimately won by Cippenham. Simon Vine was responsible for two of these against Mike Bishop and Farrow while, sandwiched in between, Mike Rhodes came back from 2-0 to score a great win over Briscoe. It mattered little that Christos lost the final set to Bishop as Cippenham had won 4-2 and secured second place in the division.

Meanwhile, the Cippenham ladies team were not having such a great time and never threatened to pull away from bottom place in Division 1. There were two matches to complete the division table before it was split into a top and a bottom half. Wheelers Fusion won the first of these 6-0 and then Ashford triumphed 5-1. After the split, Cippenham had to play Ashford again and the same scoreline prevailed and then Fusion won 6-0 on Sunday morning, despite three of the six sets requiring a deciding game. The final match of the weekend did provide some respite and a point in a 3-3 drawn with Northern Belles with Julie Dean, Sue Hayes and Denise Weller all contributed one win apiece.

Martin Adams