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Veterans' British League 1st Weekend - 7-8 October 2023

Many thanks to Mike Rhodes for these photos

Weekend two of the new British League season saw three Cippenham teams travel up to Derby for the first weekend of the Veterans' British League. The men's first team were expecting a tough time, having been promoted to the Premier Division for the first time in the Club's history. They started well enough with a 3-3 draw against Team Bribar who ultimately finished the weekend in third place in the table, level on points with the top two. This was a fine all-round team performance with all three Cippenham players contributing a win apiece. After David Barr had succumbed to England veteran number three Jason Ramage in the first set, team captain Martin Adams came from behind to defeat Chris Rogers, ranked fourteen places above him. This was after two deuces in the deciding game. Hari Gehlot then lost to Scotland international Niall Cameron and Bribar went 3-1 ahead when Martin lost to Ramage, despite taking the newly-crowned Home Countries International over-50s champion to a fifth game. However, all was not lost for Cippenham as the defensively-minded David rolled back the years with a three-straight win over Cameron and Hari secured Cippenham's first point of the campaign by beating Rogers 3-1.

Unfortunately, that was as good as it got for Cippenham during the weekend. David and Hari both defeated Costas Papantoniou but Foresters A ran out victors 4-2 and then in the concluding Saturday match Cippenham could only manage one win, that in the opening set by Martin against Richard Jermyn, as they lost to Lilleshall 5-1. Two more 5-1 defeats were suffered on Sunday, firstly against Tees Sport and then against Topspin Fusion 1. Hari was the only Cippenham winner in these two matches.

The men's second team fared much better and, with four victories and a draw from their five matches, sit second in Division 4B. Star of the show for Cippenham was Steve Munson, a player who has played many years for the Club in the Senior British League but was making his debut in the Veterans' British League. Steve won all eight of his individual matches. Steve Joel made a welcome return to a Cippenham team since moving out of the area more than two decades ago and won five of his eight matches while Samson Bekele and Paul Baker both won half of theirs.

Steve Munson gained the first of his four player-of-the-match awards as he led his team to a 4-2 victory in the first match against Chippenham. He firstly beat Gary Wilson and then held off a determined challenge by Trevor Lloyd to secure his brace 15-13 in the fifth and deciding game. Steve Joel and Samson both beat Rick Jemmott to secure maximum points for Cippenham. Cippenham went one better on Saturday afternoon with a 5-1 result against Foresters F. Steve Munson won his customary two and this was supplemented by a brace from Paul and one from Steve Joel. The first day ended with a deserved 4-2 victory against Draycott 5. Steve Munson was stood down for this match and it was left to Steve Joel to gain the player-of-the-match award by beating Martin Walters and Viv Rayson without dropping a single game. Samson, over Rayson and Paul, over Adam Ellis provided the support required.

Sunday started in a similar vein with another 4-2 victory over De Vere NETTS. This was accomplished courtesy of two wins each from Steve Munson and Samson but the final match saw Cippenham drop their first point of the season with a 3-3 draw against Cutnall Green, the only other team in the division with a previously unblemished record. Steve Munson made quick work of Julian Wootton and Steve Horton and was supported by Steve Joel's 11-9 fifth-game win over Wootton.

Meanwhile, the Cippenham team in the women's section were also having a successful time, winning three of their four matches. Their weekend did not start well, being a 5-1 defeat by Division 3 leaders Foresters 5. Mary Heffernan was Cippenham's only winner, easily beating Celia Hooker but narrowly missing out to Lynne Trussell. From that point forward, results improved dramatically. Mary and Sue Hayes won two each, and Julie Dean contributed another, as Cippenham eased aside Fulham Brunswick 5-1.

Sunday started with a bang as Cippenham thrashed Continental Stars 6-0 with Denise Weller, Julie Dean and Sue Hayes losing only two ends between them. The weekend concluded with another Cippenham victory, this time 5-1 over Halton. Mary and Denise again won both their matches while Julie contributed the other.

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