At the halfway stage of the season the Netts club remain favourites to win divisions two and three of the Braintree Table Tennis League.
Division two looked very open from the outset. With two teams promoted and none relegated from division one, there was no obvious candidate for the top spot, and so it has proved.
Netts B’s rise from sixth place (as Netts C) to pacesetters is partly down to the addition of Jon Hill and more appearances from Joe Meleschko but that has to be set against the loss of Ben Page and more infrequent outings for Szczepan Ziobro.
More relevant perhaps is that the teams who finished third, fourth and fifth last season all lost players. Black Notley C, who were third, are now without Neil Freeman, who has been promoted to division one, fourth-placed Rayne C (now D) have been without Richard Jennings, who is now at Liberal, and Notley E, fifth last time, have had to do without the injured Alan Billing, although he has returned for the last three matches.
Of Netts’ three title contenders, their D team in division three look to be in the best position. They have put in a series of strong performances and seem to have few weaknesses.
Most impressive has been the surge in form of Charles Calisin, whose 35 per cent average last season gave no hint of things to come. He has reigned supreme with only two defeats in his eight matches so far.
A measure of his improvement is that he has numbered among his victims Graham Chinnery, whose six defeats last season, with one exception, were by players now in division two.
Almost as impressive has been the performance of his father Jimmy, whose average has jumped from 60 to 83.3. He too has numbered Chinnery among his victims, one family accounting for the Notley G man’s two defeats.
They have reliable backing from Michael Goodchild (80 per cent compared with 51 last year) and Keith Traynor (up from 41 to 72) and enter the new year after an impressive run of three 9-1s and two 10-0s in their last five matches.
Great Yeldham, Rayne G and Notley G have been doing their best to keep up a challenge but unless there is a major upheaval the title is Netts D’s to lose.
Yeldham have been one of the finds of the season. Together with Finchingfield, they joined the league after being donated a table through a Braintree League and Table Tennis England initiative.
With former Nomads player Lorraine Burgess to the fore, they have been up among the front runners from the start of the season.
She has lost only twice in 18 sets, both against Notley G, Yeldham’s only defeat so far, and has received excellent backing from Doug Sanders (80.9 per cent), Kevin Mills (70) and Ray Carter (55.6).