Veterans' British League 1st Weekend - 2-3 October 2021
There were more mixed results for Cippenham’s table tennis teams as the Veterans’ British League got underway at Derby over the weekend. The men’s first team performed well and are currently second in Division 1B while the men’s second team and the women’s team fared less well and are bottom of Men’s Division 3A and Women’s Division 2 respectively.
Unfortunately, Cippenham number one Andy Trott was unavailable for the first team’s opening match against Foresters and so Mike Rhodes was called upon as substitute against the other stand-out side in the division. Martin Adams edged a nervy encounter against the dangerous Paul Carter, and despite both Martin and Hari Gehlot pushing England number four Ritchie Venner to closely fought matches, the result ended 1-5. That result left Cippenham in a position in which they could not afford to lose any more points to stand a realistic chance of promotion.
Against Norwich it was a successful clean sweep of 6-0. Andy, Martin and Hari comfortably saw off the challenge of Jamie McIntosh, Mats Olsen and Ben Thompson. Crawley were the next opponents and could only manage one better at 5-1 with Andy and Martin remaining unbeaten.
The following morning match against bottom side St Georges could have been more challenging had it not been for one of their top players unable to attend the venue on time due to a motorway jam. Things looked bleak when Martin succumbed to the hard hitting of Ryan Stockham in the opening exchange but Hari and Andy steadied the ship and with the defaulted matches Cippenham ran out 5-1 winners.
The final match of the weekend was crucial against another strong team, Lilleshall. Andy's only defeat surprisingly came at the hands of Paul Ciccelli early on in the match and Martin could not find a way to get through England number nineteen Richard Jermyn. Hari and Andy levelled things off at 2-2 with good wins against Andy Frain and Jermyn respectively, but Hari narrowly lost out to Cicelli before Martin secured a point for Cippenham with a 3-3 draw by beating Frain.
This puts Cippenham three points behind Foresters with the final weekend to follow. Promotion to the Premier Division is unlikely unless Cippenham can take revenge in the return fixture against Foresters, who will also need to slip up against at least one other team.
The men’s second team found the going tough and managed only one draw in their five matches. That came on Saturday afternoon against Norwich City. Samson Bekele was the star player in this match for Cippenham, beating both Ken Read and Richard Elliott. Paul Baker also beat Elliott to give Cippenham a 2-0 lead in the match but Steve Smith was unable to add to his team’s scoreline. The five-man Cippenham squad was completed by Mike Rhodes and Tony Stead and the other matches resulted in disappointing defeats, 5-1 against Dewsbury, Graham Spicer Club and PSP Group while the final match was lost 6-0 against a very strong Joola Plymouth team.
The women’s team were hampered by being a player short for the first two matches with Julie Dean out through Covid and Sue Hayes having other engagements earlier on Saturday. By the time Sue joined Mary Heffernan and Denise Weller for the third match, Cippenham had already lost their opening two encounters, 4-2 against Milton Keynes and 5-1 against Northern Belles. Mary had a good win over fellow Bucks county player Dawn Pearce while Denise beat Zsuzsanna Kalman in the opening match. Mary then followed up beating Linda Sanderson of Northern Belles. Upon her arrival, Sue immediately made her mark by beating Sarah James but that was all Cippenham could muster, going down 5-1 to Sutton at Hone on Saturday evening.
Better things were to follow on Sunday. Cippenham al last got off the mark with a good 4-2 win over Ellenborough 2 in the morning. Denise and Mary both won twice while Sue was unlucky to lose her two matches very closely. In the final match, Mary continued her good form with wins against Denise Jacobi and Brigitta Palinkos but her team-mates could not add to the scoreline as Cippenham lost 4-2 against Billwood. Denise, against Jacobi, and Sue, against Caroline Cole both led 2-1 in their matches but were unable to find the finishing line on London Marathon day!