Woodham A had the Taylor Pest Control company from Cold Norton to thank for their recapture of pole position in the Burnham & District Table Tennis League this week. 

Woodham A crushed the resistance of Maldon A this week with a dominant 9-1 victory that sees them back atop of the Division 1 table with a game in hand over joint leaders Mapledene A.

Woodham’s Chris Penrose and Lee McHugh went unbeaten all evening whilst third wheel Kaung Htet Paing won two of his three singles losing out to the leftie genius of Maldon’s Jon Stokes. 

However, the real drama came in the Mapledene A versus Cold Norton A encounter where so many of the individual encounters could be a forerunner to this year’s League Singles Final. Mapledene fielded a very strong trio of Gary Young, Liam Squirrell and Reece Seddon but none of them could ‘topple the Taylor’ as Cold Norton’s top player Duncan Taylor laid down his own marker for the upcoming tournament when he destroyed the Mapledene Galacticos.

‘Destroyed’ might be a bit harsh as the Taylor versus Seddon battle went to a deciding leg, and when disposing of Squirrell it look four long legs before the deed was done. The Mapledene trio won the rest of the singles including three five-setters where Young beat Sam Lowman and Charles Sweeny, and Seddon just edged it against Lowman.

Lowman did pair up with the pest control supremo Taylor to flush out and humanely destroy a young Squirrell combo in the doubles. A long and eventful evening that finished up with Mapledene as 6-4 winners, and more importantly no rodents were injured or killed during the event.

In the final Division 1 match of the week Fambridge had to forfeit three points as they were a player short. However, that was all they gave up during the short and sweet evening’s sport as both John Poysden and Keith Adams won all their matches including the doubles with the only real trouble coming from Stow’s in form Gary Brignall who took Adams to five sets. 7-3 to Fambridge.

 A full set of fixtures in Division 2 with no real upsets other than Mapledene C unable to win at Stow C. Woodham C continue to dominate this Division with yet another high scoring victory as they waltzed passed Blackwater B 8-2 to maintain their 100% win rate.

For Woodham, Chris Hancox and Graham Briggs both hit home runs with a hat-trick apiece plus the doubles. For Blackwater a notable win for Tina Hutchinson as she picked up a valuable point in a four-leg victory over Dave Meah.

The less fancied Woodham D side had a great start to their match with second placed Maldon B when Eamonn Hall took the opening match in five sets against Dawn Baldry. But despite another three five-setters and a very long evening that was all Woodham could muster as Maldon B won out 9-1 in a match where the score belied the competitive nature of the match.

Hat-tricks for Colin Napper and Hamish Innes but only just. Napper hadn’t dropped a set all night until his final match-up, but then the unique and awkward style of Woodham’s Malcolm Henstock caused him to wobble until the very end of the deciding leg where he finished with aplomb to secure his hat-trick and the player of the match tag.

Innes also struggled against Henstock and again had to go to five sets to get the job done but this was just a precursor to his main event when in the penultimate match of the night he had a marathon battle with Hall which included Hall saving 10 match points and having two match points of his own. Eventually Innes won out 16-14 in the titanic deciding leg, and as the two athletes fell to the floor the crowd rose in unison to applaud the sport they had witnessed.

Peter Hance was in great form for his Stow B side winning all his singles in a 5-5 draw with Blackwater A. Despite this form Hance didn’t make the cut for the doubles which Blackwater won and this secured the draw on the night. Nicky Reece-Ford won the other points for Stow and was on for his own hat-trick until the final leg of the final match of the evening where he succumbed to the trickery of Alan Scammell.

The Stow D team didn’t make the same selection mistake as their B team. Tim Pulham scored another hat-trick and paired up with Graham Naggs for the doubles point that saw Stow D beat Maldon D 6-4. Despite the loss there were some good individual performances for Maldon D and especially Ella Sach’s 3 leg victory over the dogged Tim Huxtable.

Maldon C also selected their high scoring players for the doubles and this ensured a 6-4 victory in their match with Cold Norton D. Maldon’s talismanic Steve Aspland won all of his singles but was pushed hard by the Nortonians. He was ably supported by Colin Barrell who won twice and of course teamed up with Aspland for the bonus doubles point. For Cold Norton Dave Hancox was on good form as he took two wins including the Barrell scalp.

In the final match of the week Mapledene C travelled to Stow C hoping for a good win to keep up their podium ambitions. In a long and tough encounter the result came down to the final match of the night as the two unbeaten top seeds took to the cauldron for a winner takes all skirmish. With Mapledene 5-4 ahead, the task of redemption fell upon Stow’s Peter Chastin as he faced Mapledene’s Richard Gill.

Before we got to this point both Chastin and Pete Layzell had won two points for Stow, including two five-setters against Mapledene’s Sue Body. Layzell had beaten Mike Johnston in five, and then Body atoned for her defeats with her own five-set victory over Jean Chasmer. So it had been a tough night all round and the morning was drawing close so naturally the final encounter went into a deciding fifth set. As their bodies crumbled Chastin just held on for an 11-4 final set victory and secured the overall draw that stifles the Mapledene top two challenge.

St Lawrence A put their recent mixed form behind them this week when they overpowered highly placed Blackwater C in a 7-3 victory that sees them solidify their top-of-the-division placement. Steve King showed his class and determination with three fine wins in his singles matches and then teamed up with the vastly experienced Mike Pratley to secure the doubles.

Pratley took two singles for himself but wasn’t able to overpower the confident play of Blackwater’s pocket rocket Phil ‘Wild’ West. West took four legs to get passed Pratley but then came from behind to beat Mick Robinson in five – two great wins for the Blackwater Buccaneer.

Blackwater E have now eased their way into the runner-up spot following a 10-0 whitewash over a 2-player Woodham E side. A full house for all the Blackwater trio of David Sage, Peter Davenport and the ever-improving Jo Hart.

In the Maldon derby this week F defeated E in yet another extensive and tough encounter. The F team’s John Leavett was the undoubted star of the show with 4 wins over the course of the evening including a vary lengthy five-set comeback victory over James Raymond. Raymond won his other two matches for the E team and Roger Warren matched this for the F side.