The final weekend of the Junior British League (JBL) was held on 6/7 February, at the Derby Arena and the Lillington squad of Timmy Cooper (Ranked 48th in England), Lee Dorning (54) and Sam Weaving (84) began Saturday morning in 4th place, three points clear of the bottom two. With their sights on the top of a tight Division 2B table, they couldn’t afford any slip ups if they were to finish in the top two.
The first match of the day was against Northfield II, who fielded England No 24, Jimmy Yeung at number 1, supported by Jack Cope (69) and his younger brother Joe (117). Lillington had the added bonus of England Number 1 Lady and Lillington TTC President, Kelly Sibley, who came to offer her support. Dorning got Lillington off to a great start by defeating Yeung, with Cooper and Weaving beating the older and younger Cope brothers in turn. Cooper added the scalp of Yeung and Dorning beat Joe Cope, before Jack saved the whitewash with a 5th set deuce win against Weaving. A 5-1 win and a great start for Lillington.
Match number two was against the dangerous BATTS, who began the day in 2nd place, and the consistent Joe Walker (218) got off to a good start with an unexpected win over Cooper in 5 sets. Dorning hit back with a win over 74th rated Swede, Viktor Kjellander, before Weaving strolled past youngster Deisel Harvey (704) in straight sets. Kjellander came back to the table to inflict a second defeat on Cooper, before Dorning and Weaving wrapped up a 4-2 win for Lillington.
The final match on Saturday was of great importance. Dublin A always provide stern opposition and the Lillington trio had not had the greatest of success against them in the past. With Dublin starting a place ahead of Lillington, beating another of the teams above them was crucial. Dublin number 2, Conor Gallagher (77) was in razor sharp form and especially so at the end of three tight sets as he beat Cooper in the opener. Dorning then faced Henrik Sartor-Brusenbach and found himself 2-0 down. Digging deep, Dorning turned the tide and reeled off three straight sets to take a five-set win. Weaving then took to the table and was himself involved in a five-set battle. This time, it was Lillington who went 2-0 up, before Joey Nelson (249) hit back to level. Weaving, though, kept his nerve and put Lillington 2-1 up with an 11-7 final set. Cooper guaranteed a point for Lillington with a 3-0 win over Sartor-Brusenbach before the impressive Gallagher beat Weaving in four. Dorning held firm after dropping the 3rd set against Nelson to secure an excellent win against the lads from Ireland and leave Lillington well placed going in to the final day.
Sunday’s morning match would determine whether or not Lillington still had an outside chance for the title. If they beat table topping and undefeated Byng Hall, there was still a slim possibility of a first place finish should Byng Hall drop points in their last match. The first two games of the match were both five-setters. Dorning faced Carl Baldry (49) and Cooper would play Ed Haskell (58). Unfortunately it was Byng Hall who emerged victorious in both, giving them a 2-0 lead. Winning the next four games was an absolute must but, unfortunately it was not to be. Weaving lost to Billy Shilton (79) and Haskell, and Cooper to Baldry. Dorning’s penultimate game win over Shilton the only point won in a 5-1 reverse.
With the title well and truly out of the equation, Lillington needed to pick themselves up and secure at least a draw against bottom of the table Formby to get the runners up spot. Cooper got things off to a good start with a 3-0 win over Rhys Davies (298), which was added to by Dorning who beat Stefan Schober Tomson (208). Weaving then stepped on to the table to secure the win which guaranteed 2nd place in straight sets against Joshua Parker (350). Cooper, Dorning and Weaving finished of the remaining games in straight sets for a 6-0 win.
After two weekends of competition, the Lillington trio finished second on 14 points (7 wins, 3 defeats) to the impressive Byng Hall (8 wins, 2 draws) who ended on 18. Dublin A were next on 11, just edging out BATTS by a single point. Northfield II and Formby completed the table.
Dorning’s 90% average over the second weekend (9 wins from 10) left him with a final average of 80% (16 from 20). Cooper returned 50% (5 from 10) to finish on 50% overall (10 from 20). Weaving’s 60% (6 from 10) combined to leave him with an average of 55% (11 from 20).
After some slightly disappointing results back in October ultimately cost Lillington a decent shot at first place, the lads all deserve great credit for bouncing back and jumping from 4th place to claim their runners up medals on the second weekend.