Veterans' British League 1st weekend - 6-7 October 2018
Mix up costs Cippenham
It was a bizarre weekend for Cippenham’s two men’s teams when the new season of the Veterans’ British League got underway at Derby over the weekend. A seemingly settled squad was ripped apart in the few days leading up to the event by a family bereavement and an injury to key players. Thus the first team travelled northwards with only Hari Gehlot surviving from the original selection. With five second team players, including the hurriedly signed Silviu Garduli, winner of the Cippenham Senior Open two weeks previously, travelling, the plan was for two of the second team squad to be promoted to the first team in each match, thus providing a full complement of players for both teams.
Team captains Hari Gehlot and Paul Baker hatched a plan to try to maximise the points won by both teams, selecting the strongest players for the matches in which points were more likely to be accumulated. The plan seemed to be working well by Saturday evening as the second team had won all three of their matches, even though the first team had not won any. However, a bombshell was to erupt as the team manager, in his haste to register Garduli, had misread his date of birth and it turned out he was ineligible to play. This fact was brought to the attention of the event referee on Sunday morning and Garduli’s results were duly expunged from the records, turning the second team’s 4-2 win over Foresters E in Saturday’s third match into a 2-4 defeat. In order to field a full team in both divisions, Doug Bartle, being on hand and ready to play, was signed on an emergency basis for the second team for Sunday’s matches.
The first team finished up winning both Sunday matches 4-2 against Border Reivers and Hereford Challengers. Hari Gehlot was unbeaten during the day and he was helped brilliantly by a brace of 3-0 wins by Simon Vine against Border Reivers and a brace also for Mike Rhodes in the match against Hereford. With three defeats on Saturday, 5-1 against both XLNT Draycott 3 and Dewsbury and 4-2 against St Georges, the first team finished up with four points and occupy fourth position at the half-way stage in Division 2A.
The second team, playing in Division 4B, got off to a flying start beating Bristol Associates 2 6-0 with Mike Rhodes, Simon Vine and Paul Baker all unbeaten. They were just as impressive in their second match against Crusaders, winning 5-1 with Paul and Sammy Bekele contributing two wins each and Mike one. The third match against Foresters E was won 4-2 on the table but the result was reversed following the expunging of Silviu Garduli’s two winning efforts that were matched by one each from Mike and Simon.
Sammy Bekele led the way for Cippenham on Sunday morning as his two wins, against Tom Murray and Roy Norton, plus one each from Paul Baker and Doug Bartle, were enough to see off the challenge of Victoria Park 4-2. However, the weekend finished on a disappointing note for the second team with a 4-2 loss against Corby Smash. Simon won both of his matches while Sammy was unlucky to lose two close matches in the deciding game.
The Cippenham ladies’ team, playing in Division 2, had a happy weekend winning four of their five matches and finishing in third place, just one point behind the leaders. Their first match against RTA was a ding-dong affair with four of the six sets requiring a deciding game. Denise Weller was Cippenham’s star, winning both her matches, and she was ably backed up by Julie Dean and Sue Hayes in a 4-2 victory. The next match was hardly less enthralling as Cippenham picked up two more points in another 4-2 victory over local rivals Kingfisher. This time it was Sue that led with two wins and Julie and Mary Heffernan supporting with one apiece. Saturday concluded with a slightly easier match against Billswood. Sue and Mary both won twice and Denise once in a 5-1 win that saw Cippenham lead the table at the end of the first day.
The winning streak continued into Sunday morning as Cippenham swept to a 6-0 victory over Sutton at Hone. With Sue sitting this one out, it was Denise,
Julie and Mary who completed the whitewash but it was not as easy as the scoreline suggests. Only one of the six sets was won 3-0 and three of them required a deciding fifth game. Disappointingly, the run came to an end with the final match resulting in a 5-1 loss to Ashford. Only Denise, with a comfortable win over Rachel Smith, was able to stop the rot.