Veterans' British League 2nd Weekend - 11-12 February 2023
Cippenham’s men’s first team were successful in their quest to win Division 1B of the Veterans’ British League over the weekend. A flawless display from Cippenham at Derby Arena saw them win all of their five matches and gain promotion to the Premier Division for the first time in the Club’s history.
Having finished the first weekend, back in the autumn, top of Division 1 but only on sets difference, Cippenham knew that they needed to at least replicate that performance if they were to realise their dream of promotion. The talented and experienced squad of Andy Trott, Martin Adams, David Barr and Hari Gehlot swept all opposition aside in the three matches on the Saturday, winning 6-0 against Draycott 2, Norwich and Wolverhampton. Simon Pugh, of Wolves, managed to extend both Martin and Andy to a deciding game but otherwise it was plain sailing for Cippenham with only seven ends being lost in the other sixteen sets.
However, the team knew that Sunday was make-or-break day with Foresters C being the opponents in the morning. However, Martin Adams and his Berkshire team-mate David Barr rose superbly to the challenge, winning their four matches for a 4-2 victory and that included a first win for Martin against Andy Norwood in a few years. Hari Gehlot was the other Cippenham player in this match but he lost to both Lewis Mayhew and Matt Spero.
Cippenham thus went into the final match against Team Ecosse level on points with their opponents but with a superior sets aggregate. A draw would therefore suffice but Cippenham had lost to their Scottish opponents during the first weekend. Things were not looking good as Martin trailed Stewart Crawford 2-0 in games and 8-2 in the third. However, a fantastic comeback saw Martin win that third game at deuce and go on to obliterate his opponent in the fourth and fifth games. Ecosse drew level as Gerry Campbell beat Andy Trott but Cippenham drew ahead again when David Barr saw off Ross Martin 3-0. The match score was equalised once again when Andy lost narrowly to Crawford after having led 2-1 and it was all to play for. Martin, with an assured captain’s performance, then gave Cippenham the point they craved by beating Ross Martin 3-1 before David administered the coup-de-grace beating Campbell 3-0 to earn Cippenham a 4-2 win and so finished two points ahead of their adversaries in the final table. Both David and Martin were unbeaten over the entire weekend with David collecting three player of the match awards and Hari the other two.
Cippenham’s other two teams playing in the same competition were not so successful. The men’s second team started bottom of Division 4A but, after an improved performance compared to the first weekend, ended up one place higher having leapfrogged Ormesby 2. Samson Bekele replaced Steve Smith from the first weekend and he got Cippenham off to a good start in the opening match against BATTS 2, beating Zayd Mauthoor deuce in the fifth. Mike Rhodes also beat Mauthoor 3-0 but that was all Cippenham could muster and the final result was 4-2 in favour of the Harlow-based team. Samson and Mike both gained one win again in the second match but the result was the same, a 2-4 loss to Cirencester.
In the later Saturday match, Paul Baker found his form and his player-of-the-match performance beating both Michael Young and Gary Whyman brought Cippenham their first win of the weekend, 4-2 over Ormesby 2.
Sunday was better and started with a 3-3 draw with De Vere NETTS from north Essex. Paul was again Cippenham’s star with two wins and he was aided by one from Mike that earned Cippenham a valuable point. Things were looking up and a great team performance saw Cippenham win their final encounter 4-2 against Draycott 4. Samson earned the player of the match award for his two wins against Tony Smith and Reza Kiani while Mike and Paul both beat Lee Baker.
The Cippenham ladies’ team were less successful and gained only one point all weekend to finish bottom of Division 2. That point came on Sunday morning against Ellenborough 2 and was won courtesy of a brace from Mary Heffernan and one from Sue Hayes. Other results included defeats of 2-4 against Milton Keynes and Lyncrest, 1-5 against Foresters 3 and 0-6 against divisional champions Foresters 2.