League's knock-out start

Star Paving Services North Norfolk Table Tennis LeagueTHE 45th season of the North Norfolk League got under way with just the two matches - the preliminary round of the two Knock-out Cups.

Star Paving Services North Norfolk Table Tennis League

THE 45th season of the North Norfolk League got under way with just the two matches - the preliminary round of the two Knock-out Cups.

With 17 teams in the mix this year, these extra rounds have been added with 15 teams receiving byes into the first round proper and the other two drawn

to fight it out for the final place in the last 16.

The season started with two matches held at Cromer Tennis Club, the first of which was the doubles tie between Backhanders and Sharks.

Murray Shanahan made his league debut for Backhanders alongside transferee Chris Marshall and old hand Teucer Wilson as they battled the regular Sharks trio of Phil Baker, Keith Register and Nigel Hayward-Surry.

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Baker misfired, allowing the Backhanders to take advantage as Wilson and Shanahan won the opener in four, before Register and Hayward-Surry needed five match points to level as

they defeated Marshall and Shanahan

11-4 11-5 9-11 16-14.

The next two contests were shared as the tie was locked at 2-2.

Baker and Register made a comeback in the fourth as they closed out an 11-2 13-11 8-11 13-11 win over Wilson

and Shanahan.

The differences caused by the doubles rotations (the change in who was serving to who at each change of ends) was obvious in the sixth battle, but a 5-1 lead in the fifth was good enough for Register and Hayward-Surry as they closed out an 11-7 4-11 11-2 4-11 11-7 win over Wilson and Marshall to move Sharks one win from the tie at 4-2 up.

And Baker and Register pulled out all the stops towards the climax of their win in four over Marshall and Shanahan as they booked Sharks' place in the first round proper.

The two dead rubbers were played out and were shared, leaving a final score of 6-3 in Sharks' favour.

The next day it was time for the first appearance of one of this season's four new teams as the Poachers line-up of Maureen Chapman, Barry Evans and John Cheyette visited the Aces team of Clive Smith, Eric Dolden and Geoff Long.

Smith was too steady for Evans as he won each of the three sets in the opener 11-7, before Dolden was too strong for Chapman - although surprised on occasion. Cheyette had a terrific debut as he pulled one back for Poachers with a

5-11 11-7 8-11 11-9 11-5 win over Long before Evans produced some good smashes in his next battle - but Dolden again was too steady as he won in three.

Smith's experience showed as he moved Aces 4-1 up in the tie with a win in straight games over Cheyette before Long sealed the win in three against Chapman.

The dead rubbers saw Cheyette surprise Dolden in three comfortable sets as well as a close 12-10 11-8 9-11 12-10 win for Long as he struggled against the spin of Evans.

A maximum for Smith completed Aces' 7-2 match win.

Aces will face Beta in the first round of the singles as well as the doubles, while Sharks' reward in the doubles is a home tie against Alpha.

The league gets into full swing with all of the first round matches of the doubles, but so far this season it's two matches done and dusted with another 194 to go!