Netts B’s Nikki Kennard came within an ace of pulling off one of the results of the season when she stretched former men’s singles champion Brandon Crouchman to the limit in the Braintree Table Tennis League.

Crouchman, of Liberal A, had lost only once – to Steve Pennell – in his 12 sets this season but Kennard appeared to be heading for victory when she took the first two games.

Crouchman got back into his stride and won the next two games 11-5, 11-4, but Kennard was not finished. She had Crouchman teetering on the brink again as she pushed him all the way to deuce in the fifth game before he finally clinched it at 13-11.

Nor did he find it easy against Maria Boulton. This time he won the first and lost the next two before coming through 11-9, 11-4 in the final two games.

Crouchman’s efforts were not quite enough for Liberal A to avoid their seventh defeat in eight matches.  Zach Harrington had an excellent win over Kennard but Netts B took the rest.

At the top end of division one, Rayne A leapfrogged Netts A, who have a match in hand, after an 8-2 win over Black Notley A. Rayne welcomed back Lee McHugh, another ex-singles champion, for his first match of the season and he obliged with his three sets.

Rayne’s and Notley’s B teams also faced each other, where Steve Noble’s three singles enabled Notley to share the points.

In division two, Notley D and Liberal C continue to nudge along in each other’s shadow with wins of 8-2 and 7-3 respectively.

The Clift brothers double act brought seven of Notley D’s eight points against Rayne D while Gareth Davies was unbeaten in Liberal’s win over a two-man Notley C.

The teams in fourth and fifth place, Notley E and Rayne C, faced each other and after a suitably tight encounter it was Notley E who emerged 6-4 better off.  Alan Billing, Gary Copsey and Stewart Ireland all won two for Notley and Richard Whiteside two for Rayne.

In division three, Rayne E caught up with their match in hand on Sudbury Wanderers and rose above them, albeit by only one point.

They were made to work hard for their 6-4 win over Notley G. Oliver Hicks gave away nothing as usual but Jamie Brooks and dad Matt took two each for Notley.

Martin Brunker’s win over Jim Davy at 11-9 in the fifth effectively preserved his team’s 100 per cent win record.

The Netts E v D match went according to the alphabet, unlike their first meeting which the E team won 8-2.  The D team triumphed this time, but by a modest 6-4 in a match where nobody won all three and nobody lost all three.

Rayne F’s match against their own G team also accorded with their initial evaluations.  Dave Whiting’s three singles led the F team to an 8-2 win and it was Ernst Midl who was on form for the G team, notching up a double for the first time this season.