Published 24/07/2019 at 09:24:23 by David Wackrill.


Warriors 4 Howsmall 1
Towcester 3  Spinners 2
Aylesbury 4 Phoenix II 1
It was a case of deja vu all over again for leaders Howsmall as the pattern of their first cycle of matches repeated itself this week – 3 whitewash wins against the bottom teams followed by defeat to closest rivals Warriors. Congratulations are due to  Warriors’ Michael Wilkins on being runner-up in Group 3 of the National Veterans Ratings tournament at Grantham on Saturday, Milton Keynes highest finisher on the day. And he was still in good form for this one, roaring into a 2-game lead against Nick Howard before losing, but then seeing off Guy Sparrow 11-9 in the 7th. Warriors bring out their star man Matt Haynes for these big matches and he did not disappoint with just a single game dropped in his 2 wins. Warriors also took the doubles to finish comprehensive victors.
Surprise package Towcester pulled off a shock defeat of former champions Spinners in the first cycle and repeated that scoreline here for another great result. As usual Spinners’ Alan Cherry was imperious, winning in straight games but the feisty Towcester pair of Iain Lindsay and Ian Brown made hay, as the sun still shone brightly outside, in the remaining sets to clinch the match. Spinners’ Pete Tillotson led Ian 3-1 in games before the Towcester lad staged a magnificent come-back that took him to a 12-10 in the 7th victory. Towcester finished by pulling off the crucial doubles set in straight games for their 6th doubles success of the Summer.
The bottom 2 met this week with Aylesbury running out convincing 4-1 winners with all 5 sets also going to 4-1 in games for a nice symmetry. Tim Cheek was in cruise control for Aylesbury and rarely troubled by Phoenix regulars Cazacu Vali and Mervyn Phillips. Ben Rolfe missed his first match of the season for Aylesbury with deputy Chris Hawkes losing out to Mervyn for Phoenix’ consolation win.
Player of the week is Matt Haynes.
Howsmall (36 points)
Warriors (31)
Spinners (22)
Towcester (19)
Aylesbury (18)
Phoenix II (9)
(courtesy of Mike Ainsworth)

Phoenix I 5 Tornadoes 0
Hit n Hope 3 Blades 2
Classics 0 Topspin 5
Stormers 1 Sweet and Sour 4
Just when it looked like the second division was getting closer, Terry Lau decided to call on Biao Wang in the Sweet and Sour match against second placed Stormers and suddenly it looks like a one horse race again…
But if the shock appearance of the likeable globe-trotting bat-for-hire Biao turned the first half defeat on its head, Biao had to fight hard for his two wins, particularly against Andy Smith where a see-saw match saw Biao take a two games to love lead, only for Andy to reverse the tide and take a 3-2 lead before Biao steadied the ship and prevailed with a 14-12 win in the decider. Unlucky for Andy but a great match to watch as Andy was left ruing the absence of the nonchalant slap that sealed one of his 11-0 wins in a week three match. Andy was involved in another marathon against winter league team-mate Julie Snowdon before reversing an early 2-1 lead by Julie with a 4-2 win. But that was the only ray of hope for Stormers who went down by 4-1 and now trail the league leaders by 5 points. It was good to see regular Dave Wackrill back from his injury for Stormers, albeit with a bandaged ankle. The win was Sweet and Sour’s sixth consecutive win after three losses in the first three fixtures and takes them to within three points of Stormers, having now played and beaten the top two in the division. Rumour has it that Terry has lined up Ma Long for next week’s match against Topspin. Read into that what you will…

After last week’s opening defeat the Phoenix team of Ioan Constantin and Gerald Ridgway were in no mood to be generous against the Tornadoes’ youngsters Nicholas Wong and Tanmay Tijare. And so the match card confirms as the only set that wasn’t 4-0 was the contest between Nicholas and Gerald, which Gerald won 4-1. Surprisingly Gerald’s two wins were his first of the summer but I’d put some money on them not being his last.

Bottom markers Blades haven’t won a match since their week 7 win in 2018, when they gained their sole Monday night victory with a 3-2 win against Hit n Hope.  But with Hit n Hope holding a 3-1 advantage overall in the last two summer seasons and also fielding their strongest combination of Ivor Howard and Marco Hahn, things didn’t look too good for Blades at the outset. Unfortunately no-one had given Bill Tyler and Brian Evans the script. After a comfortable win for Marco against Brian in the first set Bill Tyler fought all the way against Ivor before narrowly losing in the decider;  2-0 to Hit n Hope and all going to plan… Marco and Ivor had a 5/6 record in division two doubles matches last season in contrast to Bill and Brian’s 0-7 record but that didn’t stop the Blades pair from tearing up the form book with a 4-2 win on the night. 1-2 Hit n Hope. Bill on next against Marco and again the form book was a useful as a chocolate teapot (which incidentally might have melted without the tea on a sweltering night) and without any regard for Marco’s status as a top three division two player Bill came out a 4-1 winner to level the match at two sets apiece. Last match: Brian v Ivor. Ivor has never lost to Brian who has just the single win to his name this summer. Brian takes a 3-1 lead and looks invincible. (ok I might be getting hyperbolic but you get the drift). Brian has a between-match exchange with Russell Penn and seems confident but he has reckoned without Ivor’s resolve. Ivor takes the sting out of Brian’s attack and takes the 5th comfortably by 11-6. Brian has match point in the 6th but blows it and Ivor takes the set into the deciding game with a 12-10 win. The tension was palpable but there was to be no fairy tale ending in the 7th as Ivor frustrates Brian’s attack completely and storms through by 11-1, completing it must be said a very narrow win for Hit n Hope. A win is a win and a fourth win for Hit n Hope takes them into fifth place. Blades still winless and three points adrift.

In the final match the Topspin team of Russell Penn and Mal Hussain faced a Classics team comprising the in-form Dylan Cox and Barbara Peters but unfortunately Dylan aggravated a gym injury and was forced to concede in the doubles and against Russell and so the match ended 5-0 to Topspin.

Player of the week: Gerald Ridgway (by popular acclaim!)

Week 9 Table:
1)       Phoenix I 37
2)       Stormers 32
3)       Topspin 30
4)       Sweet and Sour 29
5)       Hit n Hope 18
6)       Tornadoes 15
7)       Classics 11
8)       Blades 8