Table-top tussles in cup
In the Star Paving Services North Norfolk Table Tennis League, the Handicap Singles Cup saw the first-round matches produce some extraordinary individual battles.
Goblins cruised to the title last year and started their defence with a home match to Outlaws as Peter Ward (G), Rosie Ward (N) and John Miller (K) battled Jamie Craig (E), Colin Humphreys (F) and Andy Tuddenham (H).
The closer to the letter 'A' a player's handicap is, the better their performance is in the league and the greater the difference in the letters between two players in a handicap battle, the greater the head-start given to the weaker player. Matches are played over the best of three sets to 21 exactly, with cup ties the best of nine encounters.
In the battle between Miller and Humphreys, the handicaps translated into a 10-point start for Miller, but Humphreys won 14-21, 21-20, 21-20.
That was pretty much the story of the night as, although Ward took a brace for Goblins, Miller and Rosie Ward never really got to grips with the faster games of Craig and Humphries or the more tactical play of Tuddenham — although each of their wins came in three sets. Outlaws came through 5-2.
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There was a close derby at North Walsham as Beta's Chris Johnson (I), Simon Halliday (G) and David Beane (G) took on Cobra's Adam Brown (F), Bev Baldock-Yaxley (P) and Stan Baldock (P).
A key moment early on saw Brown defeat Halliday (+2) 21-18, 7-21, 21-20 to draw the tie level at 2-2. Later, and with Beta trailing 2-4, Halliday kept his team in contention with a narrow 21-20, 21-20 win against Baldock (+13).
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Beane (+2) defeated Brown in three to force a deciding contest. There Baldock-Yaxley (+11) completed his maximum with a 21-11, 21-7 defeat of Johnson to squeeze Cobras through with a 5-4 win.
Meanwhile Antingham saw Delta's Andy Beane (C), Jack Morton (E) and Tom Baldock-Yaxley (C) host Shark's Keith Register (H), Peter Betts (E) and Steve Nicholls (F).
The opener was an incredible battle between Bean,e who took the first set 21-20, and Register (+10) who took the second, also 21-20. The Shark led 18-8 but the Delta rode his luck to save a number of match points to take the decider – 21-20 of course.
However, the Sharks dropped only two more sets in their 5-1 win, with Nicholls highly impressive.
With power restored at Gimingham after last week's power cut that forced a match to be abandoned, Special's Jonathan Care, Hugh Rout and Ray Howe hosted Barracuda's Jonathan Dempsey, Derek Philpott and Rex Parfitt. The handicaps gave the visitors starts ranging from 10-16.
At one point Rout won 36 points on the trot from 0-14 in the second to 15-14 in the third as he defeated Dempsey (+14) 4-21, 21-14, 21-19.
Care also won in three against the Barracuda but this was matched by Philpott winning a couple of marathons.
The match was swayed by Parfitt playing an attacking game above form to take a maximum and steer Barracudas to a 5-2 win.
In the other first round fixtures, Poacher's Barry Evans, Andy Woods and Alan Rutledge defeated Gresham School's Roy Lau, Ray Sin and Henry Yeung 5-1, which was concluded by Wood's 21-18, 18-21, 21-20 defeat of Yeung (+10).
Rod Goffin (+6) came from 17-20 in the decider to defeat Dennis Elliott 21-20 to take one of two of Backhanders' points (the other coming from Whil De Neve (+11) against Elliott), but a vintage attacking display from Mary Sawyer helped Alpha to a 6-2 win.
Charlie Usher and Paul Price both stuck at it and played well to each take braces for Echoes against Seals, Phil Mole (+2) rounding off their 5-1 win, 21-20 in the second against Matt Hudson.
In the one league match, in the first division, Pirate's Stan Munn, David Thompson and Mark Fairhurst hosted Shark's Keith Register, Peter Betts and Steve Nicholls.
Fairhurst's three singles all went to four sets as he came from a set down to defeat Register and edged out Nicholls 11-6, 3-11, 16-14, 11-9.
But despite coming back from 0-7 to 7-8 in the fourth against Betts, the Shark won 11-8 and just two more sets were dropped in the Shark's 8-2 victory.
Players of the Week: Peter Ward, Bev Baldock-Yaxley, Steve Nicholls, Rex Parfitt, Andy Woods, Mary Sawyer, Paul Price and Mark Fairhurst.
Results. Handicap Singles Cup first round; Goblins 2, Outlaws 5; Beta 4, Cobras 5; Delta 1, Sharks 5; Specials 2, Barracudas 5; Alpha 6, Backhanders 2; Seals 1, Echoes 5; Gresham School 1, Poachers 5.
First Division: Pirates 2, Sharks 8.
Handicap Singles Cup quarter-finals draw: Alpha v Cobras; Barracudas v Sharks; Poachers v Pirates/Crosscourts; Outlaws v Echoes.