At the seventh time of asking, erstwhile champions Liberal A have at last registered a win in the Braintree Table Tennis League.
Fielding Brandon Crouchman and Scott Dowsett in tandem for the first time, they overcame Black Notley B – 10-0 winners over Netts B in their previous match – by 7-3.
Crouchman and Dowsett won all their singles and their doubles mostly in straight games, but Steve Noble gave both of them something to think about.
Crouchman had to come back from two games to one down to win at 11-6 in the fifth end while Dowsett was involved in one of the season’s longest games when he edged home 23-21 in the third game after sharing the first two. He eventually won 3-1 (11-5, 8-11, 23-21, 12-10).
Liberal’s victory has livened up the bottom of the table, which in effect encompasses all but two teams.
With all teams having met once, positions three to seven are covered by just five points. Liberal A are six points adrift but if Crouchman and Dowsett turn out regularly that is not likely to last.
Somewhat surprisingly Netts B, third last year, are the team immediately above them. Their A team did not help their situation by beating them 9-1, Maria Boulton’s win over Andy Holmes their only relief.
Next up are Notley A, who lost 6-4 to Liberal B, a win that takes the latter up to third place, but Notley are now level on points with Rayne B, who lost to their own A team 8-2. John Andrews grabbed the B team’s two wins.
In division two, leaders Sudbury Nomads ended their first set of matches with their eighth win out of eight, 7-3 over Liberal C.
Liberal’s three wins were all against the formbook. Garry Fryatt, with a 72 per cent average going into the match, beat Jack Cansdale, who was on 81, while Dave Hardy, average 40, scored one of the wins of the season over Karl Baldwin, who had lost only one set in 12 – and he did so in three straight games.
Fryatt and Hardy also took the doubles against Baldwin and Ken Lewis by the surprisingly comfortable figures of 3-1 (12-10, 8-11, 11-4, 11-3).
Notley D, second from bottom (as Notley F) last year, continue to confound expectations in a comfortable second place, a position they strengthened with an 8-2 win over their own F team.
The teams from third to sixth are covered by two points.
Notley C beat their own E team to move within a point of them with a match in hand, while Netts C joined the mix with an 8-2 win over Rayne D.
Oliver Hicks, playing up from the third division, won Rayne’s two singles but was bettered by Joe Meleschko.