Table tennis derby survives weather

Star Paving Services North Norfolk Table Tennis LeagueJUST two matches survived being called off because of the bad weather in the first league week of 2010 as Alpha played Beta in a first-division derby and Poachers visited Gresham's School in the second division.

Star Paving Services North Norfolk Table Tennis League

JUST two matches survived being called off because of the bad weather in the first league week of 2010 as Alpha played Beta in a first-division derby and Poachers visited Gresham's School in the second division.

Beta had a disastrous first half of the season and went into the new year yet to win a match as Chris Johnson and Philip Stone were joined by Matt Robinson, back from Scotland for one match only during his festive break from study at Aberdeen - where he has become something of a star on the Scottish university table tennis circuit.


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Alphas were represented by Dennis Elliott, Dave Johns and Mary Sawyer who had destroyed Beta 9-1 in the reverse fixture at the start of the season.

Elliott started in clinical fashion with a comfortable win over Johnson in straight, before Robinson made his debut in the top division as he took the first set from Johns.

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Robinson took a two-sets lead. Johns survived some awesome backhands from his opponent as he took the next two sets to level, but Robinson won the first four points of the decider.

Robinson was still hitting some cracking backhand winners and making it look effortless as he won the fifth set 11-7 to level the match.

Sawyer raced through the first set against Stone 11-4 but the Beta took control from the middle of the second onwards as he won in four.

Excellent defence from Johnson saw him lead Johns two sets to one, but the Alpha sailed through the latter half of his five-set win as he levelled the match at 2-2. Elliott did not help his cause by having to change his bat at match-point down as Stone recovered from bad starts in each set to win 11-9, 11-9, 11-6.

Sawyer took the first set from Robinson 13-11 and then the Beta let slip a 10-7 lead in the second to give the Alpha a chance to take a two sets lead - however Robinson saved the set-point, took the set 13-11 and won in four.

Beta could now sniff their first win of the season and an upset at that as they led 4-2. Stone led Johns in the next contest two sets to one as Johnson had done earlier but, exactly as he had done against the Beta captain, Johns only dropped eight more points as he won in five.

Sawyer then levelled in straight against Johnson to level proceedings at 4-4. Robinson took a two-set lead against Elliott in the final singles, but Elliott seized his chance to level as a seven and then a four-point start saw him clinch the next two sets.

Elliott led the decider 5-2, Robinson levelled at 6-6 but it was the Alpha who won in the end but only just as he took the set 11-9.

Robinson and Stone had therefore both come within one set of beating all three Alphas for the first time on the same night.

The Betas had another chance in the doubles as they faced Elliott and Johns but their cause was not helped by the second broken bat of the night as Robinson's bat came apart as he hit a shot in the second set. The Alphas came through 11-7, 12-10, 11-9 and breathed a sigh of relief as they won the match 6-4.

Gresham's School saw the team of Ian Darricott, Adam Smith and Sam Curtis host Poachers Andy Woods, Barry Evans and Alan Rutledge.

Darricott showed his full array of shots and proved too strong as he took a maximum - just the one set dropped against Rutledge who won his other two singles in straight.

Some excellent defence from Woods saw him to a brace with a four-set win against Curtis and one in five against Smith. Both of the Gresham's players took a single against Woods - Smith coming through a five-set

nail-biter.

It came down to the doubles with Gresham's consistency the key as they won in straight to seal a 6-4 win.

Although the eight points gained from the victory sees them jump from seventh to fourth in the second division, the table shows just how close the middle pack are to each other.

There could soon be quite a backlog for the league to work through.

Three of those outstanding league games involve Outlaws, delaying the seemingly inevitable century of consecutive North Norfolk singles wins for John Hancock (Jnr).

Players of the week: J Matt Robinson and Andy Woods.

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