The handicap cup in the Braintree Table Tennis League gives the lesser lights a chance to shine – and so it has proved this year as three third division teams have made their way through to the semi-finals.

Netts’ D and E teams and Black Notley G will fight it out against second division Notley D for a place in the final.

Notley teams entered the quarter-finals with the possibility of getting four teams through to the last four, but Netts put paid to that.

Netts E beat Notley H 5-3, with two wins out of two for Jack Dearsley and two out of three for Jimmy Calisin, while Netts D beat Notley I 6-3.

Trevor Johnson, new to the league this season, illustrated his rapid improvement since the handicaps were calculated by winning all three of his sets for Notley I.

Kath Little, Matt Brooks and Jamie Brooks all took two singles as Notley G overcame division three leaders Rayne E 5-3.

Little and Jamie Brooks became the first division three players this season to beat Oliver Hicks, but they did need 12 and eight points start respectively to do so.

Peter Foster was unbeaten as Notley D came past their own C team 7-2.

The previous round had produced a series of tight matches. No fewer than four of the six ties that were played (two were walkovers) finished 5-4.

Notley C’s victory was one of those – and they prevented another third division team from making progress. Giving away 12 or 14 points each game, they reached 4-4 before they finally overcame Rayne G, Neil Freeman creeping past Roger Hasler at 21-18 in the third game at that stage. Dave Parker had been their mainstay, though. He won all three of his singles.

Notley H left it even later against Rayne C, having to come back from 4-3 down to make it through to the last eight.

With the score at 4-4, Graham Chinnery received only three points start against Richard Whiteside, but showed that he would not be out of place in division two with a 21-17, 21-12 victory.

Notley G looked to be on the way out against Sudbury Wanderers, who led 4-2 but could not grab the vital fifth set. Jamie Brooks won his three singles for Notley G.

Netts E also had to win the last singles to progress at Notley E’s expense, Jimmy Calisin taking advantage of his eight points start to beat Stewart Ireland 21-14, 21-12.

The other two matches were a bit more straightforward. Netts D beat their own C team 7-2, with Michael Goodchild and Chris Krelle unbeaten, while Rayne E declared at 5-1 against their own F team.