By Ron Fosker
Champions versus champions-elect ought to produce some high-quality table tennis and so it proved in the Braintree League’s latest set of fixtures.
An up-and-down match ended 5-4 in Netts A’s favour, but Liberal A did not make it easy for them.
Perhaps the major feature of the match was that Paul Davison lost twice. All seemed to be going according to the form book against Terry Dowsett as Davison, the 2018 men’s singles champion, won the first two games 11-8, 11-5. But Dowsett, whose first men’s singles title came at the age of 17 in 1979, rolled back the years to win the last three games 11-9, 11-8, 12-10.
The win over Davison by Liberal’s new signing Adam Cuthbert was more convincing: 11-8, 6-11, 11-9, 11-7.
Andy Holmes, men’s singles runner-up in 2017, also found Dowsett and Cuthbert too hot to handle and went down in straight games to both.
Rising above it all was Michael Andrews, whose three sets ensured the win for Netts. He was in particularly devastating form, beating Dowsett 11-4, 11-4, 11-2, Cuthbert 11-2, 11-7, 11-4 and Zach Harrington 11-3, 11-7, 11-3.
It could be that there were three men’s singles champions in the match, two past and one future.
If so, Andrews will need to overcome current champion Lee McHugh, who last week reached the semi-final of the Chelmsford individual tournament.
But McHugh took time to get going in Rayne A’s 9-0 win over Black Notley B. He had to come from two games down to win against both Neil Freeman and Patrice Élonge.
Ashley Skeggs, whose form has dipped in recent weeks, rediscovered it in time for Liberal B’s match against Netts B where his wins over Nikki Kennard and Colin Bennett were Liberal’s only successes of the evening.
Maria Boulton won her three singles in straight games and has now been defeated only four times in 30 sets.
Notley A played twice and notched up two creditable results. Two days before beating one former men’s singles champion, Adam Cuthbert had lost to another, Steve Kerns getting the better of him in Liberal B’s 5-4 win.
Notley A went on to beat a two-man Rayne B 6-3. Takunda Nerutanga, in his first season in division one, had excellent wins over both Keith Martin and Ryan Pitt.