North Norfolk Table Tennis League’s Handicap Cup produces thrills galore
After the doubles last week, the first round of the Star Paving Services North Norfolk League Handicap Singles Cup got under way.
A derby at North Walsham Sports Centre saw NWSCB's Dennis Elliott (E), John Vaughan (D) and Dave Johns (F) take on NWSCC's Toby Usher (I), Joe Kirkup (K) and Chris Johnson (J) with Elliott defeating Usher (+8) in straight in the opener.
There are no deuces in handicap contests, meaning that the 20-20 point becomes sudden death to decide a set or indeed a match and this was the case as Kirkup (+12) defeated Vaughan 21-20 in the third, albeit with a lucky edge. A vintage display from Johnson (+8) saw him defeat Johns in two sets before Vaughan levelled against Usher (+10) in two sets. Aggressive play from Kirkup (+10) got him past Johns in two, but with Elliott and Vaughan both too strong for Johnson, NWSCB led the tie 4-3. But Usher (+6) came out on top of a tight contest against Johns as the NWSCC player won 19-21, 21-12, 21-18 to force a deciding match to this cup derby. The decisive ninth battle – between the two undefeated players in the tie – saw Kirkup (+11) take the first set from Elliott 21-12, but the NWSCB player battled back to take the second 21-19. A tense decisive set saw the players level at 16-16, Elliott lead 19-18 and Kirkup save tie point at 19-20 down. That meant the tie would come down to one final point and with Elliott netting his return of Kirkup's serve, NWSCC advanced with the closest of 5-4 wins.
There was more drama at Cromer Tennis Club as Backhanders Teucer Wilson (E), Rod Goffin (G) and Paul Warner (A) hosted Sharks Matthew Hudson (H), Chris Marshall (H) and Steve Hudson (F), with the opening four battles shared, including a brace for Goffin. Steve Hudson then won 21-20 in the third over Wilson before Warner squeezed past Marshall (+12) 14-21, 21-20, 21-20. With Steve Hudson getting past Goffin in three, Warner had to again recover a 12 point deficit to keep his team alive – but he did so against Matthew Hudson 19-21, 21-18, 21-18 to level the tie at 4-4. And it was Wilson who defeated Marshall 21-19 in the second to send Backhanders through to the quarter-finals with a 5-4 win.
Meanwhile over at Antingham, a maximum from Jonathan Batchford – who beat Poachers' Barry Evans (+10) in three and Alan Rutledge (+10) and Andy Woods (+8) both in straight – helped NWSCA to win their first round tie. Evans and Rutledge both took singles, but a straight sets win for Bev Baldock-Yaxley (+8) against Woods and Beane's three set win against Woods (+11) saw NWSCA finish as 5-2 winners.
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Elsewhere in the Cup, the gremlins got to Goblins, while the Specials were spectacular – the team of John Paul, Martin Lawes and Ray Howe recovering starts ranging from 4 to 12 to win their derby 5-1. Back at North Walsham Pirates David Thompson saved several match-points as he came back from 13-20 in the second before edging out Naomi Myhill (+12) 21-20 in the third. Edna Stone was full of zip as she took a maximum for NWSCE but the visiting Pirates team of Thompson, Andy Marsh and Stan Munn all took braces as they ran out 6-3 winners and now advance to the semi-finals following the withdrawal of Outlaws. However the roles were reversed for Pirates and Goblins as they met in the first round of the doubles – the same Pirates trio that won the singles, losing out to Goblins Peter Ward, Jonathan Care and John Miller 5-2.
Handicap Singles Cup First Round: Nwsca 5 Poachers 2, Nwscb 4 Nwscc 5, Backhanders 5 Sharks 4, Goblins 1 Specials 5, Nwsce 3 Pirates 6
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Handicap Doubles Cup First Round: Pirates 2 Goblins 5.
Handicap Singles Cup quarter-finals: Specials v Crosscourts/Nwscd, Nwscc v Backhanders, Pirates bye (due to Outlaws' withdrawal), Nwsca v Gresham School/Barracudas.