The County Championships Junior Premier Division matches unfolded at Wood Green Table Tennis Club in Wednesbury on December 16th and 17th, showcasing intense competition among top county teams.

In the initial matches, Middlesex, newly promoted, triumphed over defending champions Nottinghamshire with an impressive 8-2 victory, although Brandon Sangchin was stretched to a full five games by Gabriel Cooke and so was Jonabel Taguibao by Zarita Lo.

Lancashire displayed dominance, defeating Surrey 9-1. Fraser Massey, Brooke Morris and Louis Cheung Turner were all stretched to five by Sebastian Mak, Chui-Que Wongand Angad Saggu respectively. The last named won the only match for Surrey, beating Massey.

Essex secured a 6-4 win against Derbyshire, while Warwickshire matched this score against Kent, featuring thrilling encounters like Aniket Bhanushali versus Chun Wai Sheung, which was won 13-11 in the fifth by Sheung, and Frederic Wilke against Rex Wong which saw Wilke win12-10 in the final game.

Moving to Round 2, Derbyshire drew with Nottinghamshire, and Lancashire drew with Essex. Middlesex and Warwickshire asserted their ambitions with convincing wins over Kent and Surrey, respectively.

The last round of matches on Saturday evening had Nottinghamshire against Lancashire, Essex against Warwickshire, Surrey against Kent and Middlesex against Derbyshire.

A fairly even encounter was witnessed when Notts played Lancs, the exception being the match between Anna Green and Brooke Morris, where the latter won the decider 11-8.

Two Middlesex players were made to work hard for their team’s 8-2 win over Derbyshire. Brandon Sangchin beat Joseph Cooper 3-2 – Cooper had earlier defeated Max Radiven 3-2 – and Mia Lakhani overcame Connie Dumelow 3-2. Middlesex topped the table with Warwickshire second on sets difference.

Day 2 saw a 9.30 start for Round 4. Derbyshire beat Lancashire 6-4, Middlesex beat Surrey 8-2, Notts held Warwickshire to a draw, and Essex beat Kent 7-3. The battle between Nottinghamshire and Warwickshire had quite an intensity to it.

Round 5 started half an hour later than scheduled. Essex drew with bottom-placed Surrey with just one match going the distance. Nottinghamshire beat Kent 6-4, with Kent’s Saskia Key suffering a shoulder injury in the previous match against Essex and conceding her two matches.

Warwickshire beat Derbyshire 9-1 and Middlesex beat Lancashire 8-2, though the scoreline could have been different with three matches going the distance. Bethany Ellis and Louis Cheung Turner won the Lancashire points against Jonabel Taguibao and Benjamin Levi respectively.

Middlesex topped the table with Warwickshire one point behind and it was clear that the champions would be either of these two teams.

Round 6, the penultimate round, saw a change of fortunes. Warwickshire beat Lancashire 7-3 as Bethany Ellis defeated Sum Monica Chang 3-2, Hanne Pui Yu Chui beat Ellis 3-2 and Rex Wong beat Louis Cheung Turner in the key matches.

Essex beat leaders Middlesex 6-4, with their girls Maliha Baig and Mabel Shute winning both their matches and James Donald triumphing against Max Gonpot.

Nottinghamshire beat Surrey 6-4 and Derbyshire beat Kent 6-4 with Saskia Key unable to play her matches.

Warwickshire now topped the table with a point more than Middlesex, who they faced in the final round.

The final round saw Nottinghamshire beating Essex 7-3, securing third place. Derbyshire triumphed over Surrey 6-4, and Lancashire defeated Kent by the same margin.

The title showdown between Middlesex and Warwickshire unfolded on Tables 3 & 4 and after six matches, the scores were level at 3-3. Middlesex won the next two and the match between Brandon Sangchin and Nathaniel Saunders decided the fate of the championship. Sangchin won it 3-0 as Middlesex clinched the match 6-4 overall.

So, in a thrilling conclusion, Middlesex emerged as the 2023-2024 champions, securing the title in a spectacular fashion.

The winning Middlesex squad
The runners-up from Warwickshire