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Veterans' British League 1st weekend - 28-29 September 2019

Men's first team storm their division

Cippenham’s three teams had very different experiences when the new season of the Veterans’ British League got underway at Derby. The men’s first team were all-conquering and lead their division at the half-way stage with promotion already nearly assured. The men’s second team lie in mid-table in their division while the women’s team, promoted out of turn from third place last season, hold up the rest of the teams in a division that is proving to be too strong for them.

The Cippenham men’s first team had a glorious weekend, winning all five of their matches in Division 2B with a sets aggregate of twenty-eight for and only two against. Andy Trott and Mark Banks, who shared one place in the team, both remained unbeaten while Martin Adams and Hari Gehlot lost just once each in their ten matches and both of those were deuce in the fifth.

The rout started early with a 6-0 demolition of the Seasiders team from Blackpool. Foresters D were next to face Cippenham and they became one of only two sides to take a set, losing 5-1. This was a tighter affair, as befits the team that ultimately finished second, and Hari Gehlot, especially, was engaged in two very competitive matches. Hari came back from 2-1 down to defeat Michael Robinson but roles were reversed as he surrendered a 2-1 lead to ultimately fall to Jack Boult 12-10 in the fifth and deciding game. Mark Banks came into the team for Andy Trott for the late Saturday match against Ashford but the team dynamic remained with Cippenham easing out a 6-0 victory.

Sunday morning saw Cippenham face South Essex who stunned the league leaders by going 1-0 up when Martin lost 12-10 in the fifth to Richard Hutchinson after being two games to the good. However, Andy and Hari were not going to give their opponents the same opportunity and Cippenham eventually ran out winners by 5-1. The entirely satisfactory weekend finished with a flourish as Dewsbury were left reeling 6-0 with only Martin offering any sort of chance to his opponents.

Unlike the first team, the Cippenham men’s second team did not have things all their own way in Division 4A and finished in fifth place out of eight with four points from their five matches. The weekend started promisingly with a 4-2 win against Archway. The Peterborough-based side got off to the perfect start as Dave Needham beat Mike Rhodes and Brett Heppenstall beat Paul Baker to give them a 2-0 lead. Tony Stead then stepped into the fray and eclipsed Stephen Williams, losing only seven points in the process. Mike equalised for Cippenham against Heppenstall and Tony completed a very impressive brace against Needham. It was left to Paul to complete Cippenham’s victory with a comfortable win against Williams.

Buoyed by that success, Cippenham went into the next match against Border Reivers full of confidence. Another good performance ensued against the side that ultimately led the division at the end of the weekend. Samson Bekele replaced Tony in the Cippenham team but it was Mike who was the star for Cippenham this time with victories against Paul Stead and Geoff Salter. Paul Baker also beat Paul Stead over five games in the final set to give Cippenham a creditable 3-3 draw. The third match on Saturday brought a disappointing 5-1 defeat against Foresters E. Only Sammy managed to win in a dead rubber when the points had already been lost.

Another 3-3 draw followed on Sunday morning against Draycott 5. This really was a match of two halves as Cippenham went 3-0 up with Sammy, Paul  and Tony all winning but then they all lost the reverse singles with Paul being especially unlucky to lose the final set of the match 18-16 in the fifth end. The weekend finished with a 5-1 loss to Graham Spicer 2 with Cippenham’s only success being registered by Paul.

Meanwhile, elsewhere in the same hall, the Cippenham women’s team were having a tough time. Placed in Division 1 having finished only third in Division 2 last season, they found the going far too tough and lost all five of their matches. Sue Hayes and Julie Dean both won two of their ten individual matches while team captain Denise Weller won once. The best performance came against third-placed Ellenborough who won 4-2 else it was 5-1 defeats to Foresters, Fusion B and Irish Colleens and 6-0 to Lyncrest.

Photos above by Mike Rhodes

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