Table tennis ace Hancock suffers another defeat

NWSCA have won the first division of the Star Paving Services North Norfolk League following an 8-2 win against Outlaws.

The team of Andy Beane, Tom Baldock-Yaxley and John Batchford hosted Colin Humphries, Steve Patterson and John Hancock (Jnr) at Antingham Village Hall. It turns out Hancock's defeats in the League are a bit like buses – you wait for ages (214 matches) and then two turn up at once.

Former North Norfolk champion John Batchford has always pushed Hancock close before and this time it was his turn to prevail. Batchford won the important moments to always keep ahead as he triumphed 11-5, 9-11, 11-9, 8-11, 11-8. Hancock still took a brace – strong starts seeing him to two wins in straight. However only three more sets were dropped by the NWSCA trio – Patterson taking one from both Baldock-Yaxley and Batchford plus one in the doubles – as they won 8-2 to seal the title.

The issue of the runners-up spot in the second division has now been settled – both Poachers and Barracudas were level on points with their last game to play. The Poachers trio of David Thompson, Alan Rutledge and John Hancock (Snr) visited NWSCC who with the luxury of a game in hand also had a shout but needed two large wins. The hosts were represented by Chris Johnson, Toby Usher and Stuart Hook (playing up). Usher took a brace, winning a battle of excellent hitting and counter-hitting from both players against Thompson 12-10, 10-12, 12-14, 11-8, 11-2 and edging out Rutledge 13-11 in the fourth. However these were the only two points that NWSCC picked up as Thompson won his remaining games with no more sets dropped and Rutledge beat Hook in straight and Johnson in four. Hancock was on top form, taking a maximum with two wins in four and a tight 11-7, 6-11, 11-9, 11-13, 14-12 victory over Johnson.

The doubles concluded an 8-2 win for Poachers which Barracudas needed to better. The team of Derek Philpott, Chris Gould and Mike Toye were at home to Dropshots' Sally Homfray-Davies, Judy Oliver and Alison Dunnett. There was some good attack at times from Dropshots with Oliver producing some good block returns but there were no sets lost in Barracudas' 10-0 win. And that meant Barracudas pipped Poachers by two points for the final promotion spot.

Anne Armitage took the place of Dunnett in Dropshots' line-up as they were also involved in the first semi-final of the Handicap Doubles. It was a derby affair as they were up against the Crosscourts team of John Welsh, Eric Dolden and Alf Greer with the handicaps giving Dropshots starts ranging between 6-11. Crosscourts won 7-2, however it was a much closer match than that score suggests; only one of the nine battles did not go to the deciding set and there were five 21-20 sets, five 21-19 and four 21-18 ones. Crosscourts now have to wait the outcome of another derby– Sharks v Barracudas – to find out who they will face in the final.

The final quarter-final in the Handicap Singles sawa Tom Baldock-Yaxley maximum helping NWSCA beat Aylsham Methodists 5-3. NWSCA were back for the semi but a long week of three matches in five days caught up with the team as they fell to NWSCB – the team of Dennis Elliott, Paul Price and Stuart Hook won the opening two battles in the deciding set and then three of the next four in straight to book their place in the final with a 5-1 win.

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They will meet the winners of the second semi between NWSCD and Gresham's School.

NWSCD had a match in the first division as Mary Sawyer, Joe Kirkup and Philip Stone hosted Goblin's Peter Ward, Dave Johns and Jonathan Care. Kirkup took a maximum – although Johns and Ward both took a set from him. Ward won in four against Stone and five against Sawyer. Stone led Care 10-5 in the first before winning 13-11, 12-10, 11-6, while Johns was unable to convert chances to lead by two sets as Stone won 9-11, 14-12, 11-9, 11-7 with the match ending in a draw.