Delta claim cup

Star Paving Services North Norfolk Table Tennis LeagueThis year's Handicap Singles Cup final between Seals and Delta did not go all the way to the deciding set of the deciding match as with the two previous finals.

Star Paving Services North Norfolk Table Tennis League

This year's Handicap Singles Cup final between Seals and Delta did not go all the way to the deciding set of the deciding match as with the two previous finals.

It seemed for a while that it would head that way, as the match was much closer and tougher than the final score of Delta 5, Seals 2 would suggest.

The two teams could not have had a more contrasting route to the final. Although Delta started with a 5-1 win over Backhanders, they then came back from 4-2 down in the quarter-final tie to defeat Beta 5-4 (Phil Mole winning the decider over Philip Stone in three) and then came back from 2-0 in the semi against Sharks to win 5-3 (which became 5-4 after the dead rubber was played).

Seals started with a 5-2 defeat of Aces before cruising to a 6-0 win over Alpha and whitewashing Crosscourts in the semi 5-0.

The final was contested at Southrepps Village Hall, with Chris Pooley in the neutral umpire's chair.

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The Seals line-up for the final comprised Ron Millett (0), Chris Marshall (M) and Rod Hill (Q), with Delta represented by Tom Baldock-Yaxley (P), Phil Mole (M) and Jay Gardner (P).

The opener saw Millett have no answer to the confident attacking play of Baldock-Yaxley (+2) as a nerveless display saw him to a comfortable win in straight.

In a game where the handicaps were evens, good serving saw Marshall take the first from Mole. However, foul serves cost both players dearly in the second set where there was nothing to choose between them as they were locked at 10-10.

Twice in the latter half of this set a determined Mole levelled from behind - the second time he came from 15-19 to catch up at 19-19. However, another foul serve from Mole handed Marshall a match-point opportunity, but Mole hung on and survived a sudden death.

Mole was much more positive in the third, which he won to move the Deltas 2-0 up in the final.

Next was a battle of reflexes as Hill (+2) took on Gardner. Hill played an experienced game, winning cheap points on the serve which frustrated Gardner, as did Hill's pimpled bat, and the Seal won in two to keep his team in touch.

Marshall's spin serves and a 5-0 start helped him on his way to taking the first set from Baldock-Yaxley (+6), but the Delta made a better start in the second and started reading the service of his opponent much better as he battled his way back to win in three.

A hard-hitting contest followed between Millett and Gardner (+2), but Millett was always in control during his win in straight.

With the Deltas 3-2 up, the next contest between Hill and Mole was key. There was really only one player in it for the first set-and-a-half. Mole was always struggling to make up ground on the six-point advantage the handicaps gave Hill as the Seal played his attacking game.

However, Mole refused to die and Hill started mis-firing on his smashes as nerves crept in and Mole recovered from 7-13 as he levelled by taking the set 21-15. Hill then led 11-4 in the third, but Mole completed an unlikely comeback to level at 15-15, took the match 21-17 and put the Deltas one win from the cup.

Next to the table for them was Gardner, the player yet to win a game, and having a bad night. However it was a very different player who took to the table. The stance and attitude was so much better as Gardner (+6) won 21-15, 21-15 to the delight of the Delta camp - a fitting way for the North Walsham team to end their rollercoaster cup campaign.

Handicap Singles Cup final: Seals 2, Delta 5. Baldock-Yaxley (+2) bt Millett 21-13, 21-9; Mole (+0) bt Marshall 16-21, 21-20, 21-9; Hill (+2) bt Gardner 21-12, 21-13; Baldock-Yaxley (+6) bt Marshall 17-21, 21-18, 21-13; Millett bt Gardner (+2) 21-15, 21-17; Mole bt Hill (+6) 14-21, 21-15, 21-17; Gardner (+6) bt Marshall 21-15, 21-15.