League mourns death of table tennis stalwart

Star Paving Services North Norfolk Table Tennis League

The league has received more sad news this week after learning of the passing away of former player Nigel Hayward-Surry, who has died after losing his battle with Cancer. Nigel stopped playing a couple of years ago, but before becoming ill he represented the Seaflames Club for a lengthy spell and played for different teams within the club. Seaflames captain Derek Philpott remembered Nigel saying 'He was another gentleman of the sport; he appreciated the game greatly and enjoyed both winning and losing'. The league's sympathies go to Nigel's wife and family.

It has been a very sad time in the league recently, with news of three deaths within the last month but the competition has continued. This week it was semi-final time in the Handicap Singles Cup with Echoe's Phil Mole, Charlie Usher and Paul Price racing to a 5-2 win against Crosscourts (including a couple of dead rubbers that were played).

An all North Walsham final was on the cards as Cobras featured in the other semi — the team of Alex Spragg, Bev Baldock-Yaxley and Adam Brown hosting Barracuda's Mike Toye, Derek Philpott and Rex Parfitt. Toye (+6) won the opener 21-13, 19-21, 21-20 against Spragg. Brown did the hard work but could not get over the finishing post as he lost deciding sets against both Parfitt (+13) and Philpott (+10), however this was matched by good play from Baldock-Yaxley who took a maximum — dropping just one set to Parfitt with the Cobra starting at +2 for that one. With Parfitt (+13) defeating Spragg in straight, Barracudas were 4-3 up in the tie and Toye (+6) did not miss a shot as he closed out the win for the visitors as he defeated Brown 21-7, 21-2. Hence the final will see Echoes take on Barracudas in an intriguing contest.

Meanwhile Alpha's Mary Sawyer, Dennis Elliott and Dave Johns battled Delta's Jack Morton, Andy Beane and Tom Baldock-Yaxley in the quarter-finals of the Handicap Doubles Cup with the handicaps giving the Alphas starts of no more than six points. Six battles went the distance, but experience told in the end as Alpha won 5-3, with Sawyer putting in an exceptional first class performance. Alpha face Delta in the semi-final while the other semi will see Barracudas face the winner of the last remaining quarter-final between Backhanders and Cobras.

The league got up to date and even got ahead of itself with two matches this week at opposite ends as the battle for the league crown and to avoid the wooden spoon stepped up a pace. In the first division, Specials John Paul, Hugh Rout and Ray Howe hosted Shark's Keith Register, Peter Betts and Chris Marshall (playing up). Betts came from two sets down to defeat Rout to take the visitor's only point. Rout defeated Register 5-11, 11-7, 11-4, 11-13, 11-9. Howe's defence and back-hand smashes were too much for Betts as the Special took a maximum and Paul was also untroubled during his maximum as Specials won 9-1. A win in their last match against Pirates will give Specials the league crown. Meanwhile the second division saw Crosscourt's Alf Green, Eric Dolden and Anne Armitage end their season against Echoe's Charlie Usher, Paul Price and Joe Kirkup. Although the latter did not take a win he produced some brave play and took sets from both Green and Dolden. Dolden came back from 2-10 in the final set against Price, but the Echo hung on for a thrilling 9-11, 15-13, 15-13, 5-11, 15-13 win in the joint longest match of the season. The doubles went Crosscourts' way, but Price and Usher, who dropped just one set against Dolden, both took terrific maximums to guide Echoes to their first win of the season. However they will still need a good win against Seals to avoid the strength award.

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