Grantham Academy lead the way in both boys’ and girls’ Premier Divisions after the first weekend of the Junior British League, held at Derby Arena and satellite venue Draycott & Long Eaton TTC.
But it is in different circumstances, as the boys’ team dominated proceedings to stand five points clear at the top and already close to clinching the title, while the girls are level with defending champions London Academy on points but narrowly ahead on the individual match ratio.
The Girls’ Team of the Weekend was Ackworth from Division Two (pictured above), and their player Eva Eccles took the Girls’ Player of the Weekend award.
In the boys’ competition, Team of the Weekend was Lillington from Division Two, while the individual accolade went to Vladimir Pandurevic of Woodford Wells, from the same division.
There was also sadness as a period of silence was observed during Sunday’s play in memory of Richard B Hudson, who died on Saturday and who, among many other roles in table tennis, was the JBL Administrator from 2014-19.
Grantham Academy and champions London Academy lead the way at the top, with a three-point lead over Draycott.
The top two are unbeaten and drew the match between themselves 3-3, meeting in the final round on Sunday afternoon.
There was a great rearguard action from London Academy, who recovered from 2-0 and 3-1 down to claim the draw. Tianer Yu and Maria Girlea put Grantham ahead with wins over Sienna Jetha and Scarlett Anders respectively, before Maliha Baig reduced the defcit by beating Mabel Shute.
Yu’s win over Anders restored Grantham’s two-match advantage, but Jetha impressed in beating Shute 3-2 (11-8, 9-11, 4-11, 11-7, 11-9) and Baig then beat Girlea in three (7, 7, 10) to crown the comeback.
It is Grantham who hold a slender lead thanks to an individual match record of 24-6, as against London’s record of 22-8.
Draycott were defeated by the top two but were in impressive form otherwise with a one 6-0 and two 5-1 victories.
In the averages, Yu leads the way with a perfect 10, while team-mate Girlea and Draycott’s Megan Jones are just behind with 9/10.
There is a familiar look to Division One as well, with Grantham College II head of London Academy II by virtue of a better match difference, and Draycott II in third.
The top two are unbeaten, but won unlike in the Premier Division, they won three and drew two each.
London Academy and Draycott drew 3-3 in the first round of matches, and it was a great fightback by Draycott which secured the point from 3-0 down.
Bethany Ellis started the fightback with a 3-2 (9-11, 11-8, 12-10, 9-11, 11-3) win over Ching Sum Pang, Naomi Coker then defeated Gene Lam in three close games and Emily Flynn clinched the draw with a brilliant 3-2 (9-11, 18-16, 8-11, 13-11, 11-8) win over Lianna Shilani Tousi.
London and Grantham drew their meeting in round three, with the Academy coming from 2-1 and 3-2 down as Lam beat Anaiya Ali in the final match.
Grantham’s 5-1 win over Draycott in round four saw them look on course for top spot, but they dropped another point in the final round, drawing 3-3 with Bribar Crewe Central, who picked up two draws and three defeats over the weekend but came from 3-1 down to draw against Grantham. Hanne Pui Yu Chui beat Darcey Taylor in the fifth to make it 3-2 and Abbie Hurley then saw off Ali 3-0 (11-6, 15-13, 13-11) to complete the comeback.
Ching Sum Pang’s 9/10 sees her at the top of the averages for London, with a posse of three Grantham players in the next three places.
Greenhouse II lead the way in Division Two and are unbeaten, though they dropped a point in the second round with a 3-3 draw against Graham Spicer. They had to dig deep as they came from 3-1 down, Jyothirmayi Ghanta beating Man Yin Ng in the fifth match and Caron Charles then overcoming Chui-Que Wong in the sixth.
Player of the Weekend Eva Eccles won all 10 of her matches for Team of the Weekend Ackworth, who are second in the table, two points behind the leaders.
Joola Plymouth have a 100% record in Division Three and hold a healthy four-point lead over Birmingham TTA and South Croydon.
Alyssa Nguyen was their spearhead, with a perfect record from her nine matches, putting her top of the averages.
London Academy III hold a two-point lead over Thornton Sports in Division Four and remained unbeaten, though they had a 3-3 draw in the second round against Brighton, who came back from 1-0 and 2-1 down to lead 3-2, before London’s Chi Yin Pang beat Georgina Hunter to seal the draw.
European para medallist Bly Twomey won two matches for Brighton in that fixture, and she remained unbeaten over the weekend to lead the averages with 8/8.
It is fair to say Grantham Academy will need to implode in the second half of the season for them not to win the Premier Division title.
They hold a five-point lead at the top having won every match. Second-placed Urban won only once, but drew three times, and sit level with Ormesby, who won two and drew one.
Grantham won four of their five matches 4-2 but were never behind, though they did have to make sure in the final match a couple of times.
Grantham’s leading lights, Elias Sjogren and Toby Ellis, both won nine out of 10 over the weekend to jointly lead the averages.
Ellis’ defeat was a close 3-2 (11-8, 13-15, 11-13, 11-9, 11-7) scoreline in favour of Ormesby’s Ben Piggott. Sjogren lost his final match 3-0 (8, 8, 8) to Abishek Vepa of Ormeau.
Draycott lead the way in Division One and are unbeaten, holding a two-point lead over Ackworth having dropped one point in the opening round, against eBaTT.
Draycott led that match 1-0 and 3-1, but Max Radiven completed a personal double for eBaTT by beating Nathaniel Saunders in match five and then Elliott Chan came from 2-0 down to beat Daniel Jones 3-2 (9-11, 7-11, 11-8, 11-9, 11-8) to secure the draw.
There were no 100% records in the averages but North Ayrshire’s Gavin Yuan and Ackworth’s Yan Masa Hiko both won nine from 10.
Any of four teams will have realistic ambitions to win the Division Two title as only two points separate them at the top.
Lillington lead on eight points from four wins and a defeat, while Draycott II and Woodford Wells both have seven points and Cippenham have six.
Lillington’s defeat was back in the first round, a 4-2 reverse against Cippenham in which they were 2-0 and 3-1 down. Chun Wai Sheung gave them hope with an 11-9-in-the-decider win over Ryan Chung, but William Saint sealed it for Cippenham by defeating Christopher Ho in four.
In the later rounds, Draycott were defeated by Lillington and drew with Woodford Wells, while Woodford’s defeat was to Lillington. Cippenham won their three matches on day one but were then beaten by Draycott and Lillington on day two.
In the averages, Woodford’s Vladimir Pandurevic won all eight of his matches, while Cippenham’s Ben Dunkley won nine from 10.
Division Three is led by London Academy, who won all five matches and are two points clear of Mid Ulster. They met in the fourth round and it was a 5-1 win for London, who only dropped six individual matches all weekend.
Ching Jay Law won nine out of 10 for the leaders, but is behind his team-mate Parsa Yamin in the averages – Yamin having won all six he played.
Greenhouse II are top of Division Four with a record of four wins and one draw, to stand two points above London Academy II.
The dropped point came against Chelmsford in round four as Greenhouse led three times but were pegged back on each occasion – finally by Aidan Lees’ 3-2 (12-14, 11-3, 7-11, 11-4, 11-6) win over Teagan Khazal.
There are two 100% records – London Academy’s Janak Shah from 10 matches and Greenhouse’s Angad Saggu from nine. Both won their two matches in the meeting between the top two, but Greenhouse won that one 4-2.
Graham Spicer were dominant in Division Five, wining all five matches for the loss of only four individual ties. They have a hand and a half on the trophy, leading the standings by five points from South Croydon and Ormeau II.
Spicer’s closest match was against Fusion III, who were level at 2-2 before Sebastian Mak and Noah Byrne-Smith brought it home for the leaders.
Three Spicer players – Pok Kwan Lee, Mak and Bryan Chow – won seven from their eight matches to lead the way among the regular players.
Drumchapel Glasgow hold a three-point lead in Division Six ahead of Waterside. The leaders won four of their matches, dropping only one point, in the second round against Byng Hall.
Drumchapel twice fought back to level and then took a 3-2 lead, but Matthew Davies’ 3-2 (13-11, 9-11, 11-4, 6-11, 11-4) win over Anthony Chim bagged a point for Byng Hall.
Joe Mulhern won all of his eight matches for the leaders to top the averages.
It’s tight in the eight-team Division Seven, where Bribar Cleeve Park are at the top and unbeaten, having won three and drawn two.
They are level on points with Urban III, who won four and lost one, while third-placed Kingfisher II are also unbeaten with two wins and three draws.
The leaders dropped a point in the first round, against Kingfisher, who came back from 2-0 and 3-2 down as Theo Kniep won the sixth match 3-2 (13-15, 11-5, 4-11, 11-9, 11-8) against Philip Kmiecik.
Cleeve Park beat Urban 5-1 when the top two met, but they also dropped a point against Cippenham II, who won the last two individual matches through Louis Alexander and George Driscoll – the latter 11-9 in the fifth against Nilay Balaji.
Prayrit Ahluwalia (Kingfisher) and Ryan Goodier (Brighton) both won 7/8 to lead the averages.
SGS College head Division Eight with a maximum 10 points, only losing six individual ties to open a three-point advantage over Nottingham – it was 5-1 in the match between the top two.
William Short of Nottingham won all six of his matches. Of those who played the full set of 10, Joshy Branch won nine for SGS College.
Only one point separates the top two in Division Nine, with Ormeau III leading on nine points, from also-unbeaten Britannia II.
The top two drew 3-3 – Ormeau leading 2-1 and 3-2 before Alexander Gosling beat Toby Caldwell in four to claim a draw for Britannia.
Alexander Graham won all eight of his matches for Britannia, while Ormeau’s Aaditya Singh won nine out of 10.