After going almost the whole season unbeaten in division three of the Braintree Table Tennis League, Oliver Hicks has at last tasted defeat.

In week 31 out of 33, it was Netts D’s Kierlan Richards who ended his run at 51 sets.

Hicks had won all but four of those in straight games but Richards, who only started playing again in December after a nearly three-year lay-off, triumphed in four. It was tight in the first two, 13-11, 9-11, but the last two were a surprisingly comfortable 11-5, 11-4.

Richards also beat Alex Morgan and Scott Whiteside and Michael Goodchild’s win over Whiteside limited Rayne E’s victory margin to 6-4.

That meant that Sudbury Wanderers, who beat Rayne G 9-1, stretched their lead at the top to 10 points, although Rayne E have a match in hand.

Jim Davy was unbeaten as Black Notley G beat Rayne F 7-3 while Paul Downes followed suit in Notley I’s draw with Netts E.

In division two, the top two both scored 7-3 wins, Sudbury Nomads over Notley E and Liberal C against Notley’s D team.

Rayne C improved their chances of finishing third by beating the team above the, Notley C, 6-4.

Richard Whiteside was undefeated.

Netts C kept in touch with the middling pack with a 9-1 win over Notley F, where Mike Baldwin and Szczepan Ziobro were unbeaten. The result condemns Notley F to relegation.

In division one, Brandon Crouchman again did his best to lift Liberal A out of the relegation zone almost single-handed when he won his three singles in straight games against Rayne A, including a victory over Lee McHugh, fresh from his run to the semi-final of the men’s singles. He still finished on the losing side, by 6-4.

The lower end of the table remains congested and Rayne B and Notley B improved their positions by recording important wins.

Rayne B beat Liberal B, one of the teams just above them, 8-2 thanks to unbeaten evenings from Ryan Pitt and Victor Chan, while Notley B beat Netts B, a team just above them, 6-4.

Dan Anderson, Steve Noble and reserve Sean Clift all won twice for Notley B while Maria Boulton did likewise for Netts B.