Specials wrap up title defence in table tennis league

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Specials have successfully defended their first division title, following the final league match of the season.

The team of John Paul, Martin Lawes and Ray Howe went into their final fixture knowing that they needed a win against bottom-placed Pirates to overtake Delta to reclaim the league crown.

The match took place at Gimingham Village Hall with Pirates represented by the team of David Thompson, Andy Marsh and Mark Fairhurst. Paul opened with a win in straight against Thompson, before Marsh took a good 11-8, 11-8, 11-7 win against Lawes.

Howe edged out Fairhurst 12-10 in the fourth and then the next three encounters were all won by the Specials team in straight sets, including a 13-11, 11-4, 11-5 win for Paul against Fairhurst.

Lawes then defeated Fairhurst 12-10, 11-5, 12-14, 11-5 to seal both the match and the league title. Two straight-sets wins for Specials followed, but the closest contest turned out to be the doubles — an 11-7, 4-11, 11-4, 19-21, 11-7 win for Lawes and Howe against Marsh and Fairhurst concluding Specials' 9-1 win.

The final match in the second division saw Poachers' Barry Evans, Andy Woods and Jon Cheyette host Barracuda's Mike Toye, Derek Philpott and Jonathan Dempsey. Evan's spin serves got the better of Toye in a four-set opener, before the Barracuda went on to be edged out in a couple of epics — including a 17-15, 8-11, 5-11, 11-5, 11-6 win for Woods. Cheyette then came back from 1-7 to level at 7-7 in the fourth as he defeated Toye 11-5, 5-11, 5-11, 15-13, 15-13. A four-set doubles win for Evans and Cheyette over Toye and Dempsey saw Poachers end their season with a 10-0 win.

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The Barracudas' season was far from over however as they visited North Walsham for their handicap doubles semi-final against Cobras. Rex Parfitt took the place of Philpott in the Barracudas' line-up while Cobras were represented by Edna Stone, Bev Baldock-Yaxley and Stan Baldock. With Barracudas leading 2-0, the third contest saw Toye and Dempsey take the first set from Stone and Baldock-Yaxley 21-12.

The Cobras led the second set 17-12, but strong hitting from Toye saw Barracudas drop only one more point as they raced into a 3-0 lead.

Baldock-Yaxley and Baldock (+8) then got Cobras back into the contest with a 21-17, 18-21, 21-18 win against Toye and Parfitt. Stone and Baldock (+4) then edged out Toye and Dempsey 21-20 in the third.

The next contest saw the handicaps give the Barracudas the head-start for the first time in the match, but it was Stone and Baldock-Yaxley who defeated Dempsey and Parfitt (+2) 21-18 in the third — 3-0 to Barracudas had suddenly become 3-3. The Cobras had starts of +6 in both of the next two battles, but Toye and Dempsey defeated Baldock-Yaxley and Baldock 13-21, 21-18, 21-15 and then Toye and Parfitt (the latter playing the match with a bad back) closed out Barracudas' 5-3 win with a 21-17, 21-19 defeat of Stone and Baldock-Yaxley.

So just the four cup finals remain this season — Barracudas meet Echoes in both handicap finals while Delta appear in both of the knockouts, facing Specials in the singles and Gresham's School in the doubles.

Results – Handicap doubles semi-final: Cobras 3, Barracudas 5.

First division: Specials 9, Pirates 1. Second division: Poachers 10, Barracudas 0.