The Junior Boys team from Lillington Free Church, sponsored by Leamington IT solutions provider NS Optimum, once again made the trip up the M1 to Derby to take part in the Junior British League on 21st/22nd January. After the first of the two weekends of competition, Lillington were placed fifth in the six-team Division 2B with relegation facing the side who finished bottom.
Lillington’s first match of the weekend was against table-topping Halton – no tougher start was possible. Number 1, Timmy Cooper found himself 2-0 down against Halton’s number 2, Connor Whitehead but managed to get in front and pull a leg back. Finding his range and moving his opponent about, Cooper also took the following two legs to put Lillington 1-0 up in the match.
Adam Cofler then faced Halton’s top player, Keir Morton, and was blown away in the first leg, before recovering a little in the second and going on to take the fourth 11-9. A lightning start in the fourth by Morton set the tone and he never looked back, cruising through to level the match.
Jack Green stepped in to the court for Lillington and got an early lead against Harry Watson, before Watson started to steadily peg him back, ultimately nicking the leg 11-9. This was followed by an 11-7 and an 11-6 leg, sending Halton 2-1 up in the match.
From there, it was relatively plain sailing for the top side. Cooper looked sharp in taking the first leg against Morton, but could manage no more, and with Green and Cofler losing to Whitehead and Watson respectively, the match ended in a 5-1 defeat.
Green kicked things off in the match against Kingfisher and looked in good form during the first leg against number 1, Reece Chamdal. Chamdal managed to claw himself level at the death and take the first leg 12-10. Green struggled to put Chamdal under pressure in the second leg and although he returned to his first leg form in the third, the game slipped away 3-0.
It was a similar story for Cooper, who wasn’t able to put opponent Jamie Liu under enough pressure and lost in straight sets, but Lewis Singleton, making his first appearance of the weekend, looked sharp against Joshua Gallen. The players shared the first two legs, but it was Gallen who took the following two.
Cooper lost in four close sets against Chamdal, and Green and Lewis in straight sets against Gallen and Liu. A 6-0 reverse for the second match of the weekend.
Market Rasen were the final opponents on Saturday and with them in second place trying to chase down Halton, they were in no mood to hang around. They rattled off the first three games in straight sets, with Dylan Curry beating Cooper, Sam Chesterman beating Cofler and Tom McIntosh beating Singleton.
The Lillington lads kept fighting, though. Cooper (v Chesterman), Singleton (v Curry) and Cofler (v Mcintosh) all went to four, but with all on the wrong end of the results, the team suffered their second whitewash of the day.
After the results on Saturday, Lillington started Sunday knowing they were just too far adrift of fourth place, so the focus was avoiding bottom place and relegation. First to be faced were the fourth placed Irish Boys and Cooper looked in excellent form as he sped to a 3-0 victory over Art McLaughlin.
Dylan Grace, Dylan Byrne and McLaughlin the put their collective feet down and rattled off the next four games. Grace beat Cofler, Byrne beat Green and Grace returned to the table to beat Cooper in four. McLaughlin accounted for Green, but Cofler overcame a both a first leg and heavy fourth leg defeat to display excellent mettle and beat Byrne deuce in the fifth, limiting the defeat to 4-2 overall.
The final match of the weekend and the season was against bottom-placed Ulster. With Ulster yet to score a point and Lillington on two, a minimum of a draw would guarantee the side avoided relegation. Defeat would leave the two teams tied on two points and the final positions would then be decided based on the number of individual legs won and lost over the whole competition.
Defender, James McGrath, edged Ulster into an early lead with a hard fought win over Green, after which Cooper safely negotiated his way past Matthew Cherry to level.
Singleton was looking confident after levelling at 1-1 against Conor Smith, but the third leg passed him by a little too quickly before Smith took a closer fourth to take the win.
Cooper and McGrath shared the first two legs, both 12-10, but McGrath then got on top and trotted through the next two to move Ulster within one point of victory.
Green came to the table needing to beat Smith to keep the draw alive for Lillington and let an early lead go during the middle of the first leg, losing it 11-8. Green regrouped well and used heavy topspin and the slower ball to great effect, growing in confidence with every point as he took the next three legs to leave the match score at 3-2 to Ulster.
Last to play was Singleton, needing to beat Cherry to grasp a draw. Unfortunately for Lillington it wasn’t to be and Cherry put in a fine performance, taking the game 3-0 and earning Ulster a 4-2 win.
With that last match defeat, Lillington and Ulster were tied on points. Although the Lillington lads had undoubtedly found it tough, their ability to extend their opponents to four and five legs in defeat over the two weekends proved decisive and they ended up avoiding relegation by virtue of this.
Halton finished the competition as champions with 19 out of a possible 20 points. Market Rasen were runners-up on 15, with Kingfisher just pipping Irish Boys to third (both 11 points).
With Lillington losing two of their top juniors this year as they moved into the senior ranks, it was always likely to be a hard season. In a strong looking division, inexperience at this level did them no favours, but the younger members of the squad will have learnt plenty. With relegation avoided, thoughts will now turn to improving before next season.
The club would like to extend a huge thank you to their sponsors, NS Optimum, with their kind donation helping to reduce costs to the players involved.
NS Optimum provides complete IT solutions to small nursery and infant schools right through to colleges, including primary, junior, middle, secondary and independent schools. They are responsible for some of the UK’s largest campus wide school networks providing in many cases a complete managed service.
You can find out more about NS Optimum and the services they provide by visiting their website at www.nsoptimum.co.uk
Pictured – Lillington FC JBL squad members (L-R) Jack Green, Timmy Cooper, Adam Cofler and Lewis Singleton.
The third weekend of the Senior British League consisted of a single day of play on Sunday 11th December, with each side playing twice. Lillington’s side of Lee Dorning, Timmy Cooper, Sam Weaving, Sam Wiggins and Tom Brocklehurst started the weekend in third place with work to be done to try and catch the top two.
Dorning got things off to a flying start against XLNT Sports Draycott V, making light work of chopper Gareth Hickling and blowing him away 11-3, 11-5, 11-3 with a powerful display. Cooper took the first leg against Malcolm Truman, before Truman’s canny blocking and use of the angles swung proceedings in his favour. At 2-1 down, Cooper rallied to level things up but in a hard fought decider it was Truman who prevailed 12-10 to level the match score.
Weaving was next to step up for Lillington and he faced the short pimples of David Greaves. Weaving displayed little trouble in an efficient 11-5 opening leg, before following up with an 11-7. Greaves, though, made some adjustment and out-positioned Weaving well to create chances which he put away well to catapult him back in to the game at 2-2. Having lost the fourth leg 11-4, the momentum was against Weaving but he kept composed at the business end and won the fifth 11-8.
It was another tight game when Wiggins took on young left-hander, Jack Finney, with Wiggins edging the first 17-15. Finney started covering the wide angles better and took the next two legs, which was followed by another one for Wiggins. The deciding leg, as with the first, went to the wire but it was Finney who triumphed 12-10 and drag Draycott level in the match once again.
The doubles often prove crucial in these matches and when Dorning and Cooper found themselves 2-0 down to Truman and Finney, both legs in deuce, things looked ominous. The two Lillington players, though, have proved to be a strong combination over the years and managed to stem the tide to run out 3-2 winners. Wiggins and Weaving then faced the long/short pimple combination of Hickling and Greaves. With the game tied at 1-1, it was Wiggins and Weaving who won a deuce leg to edge in front and then duly completed a 3-1 win and move Lillington two points clear for the first time in the match.
Six points are required to guarantee the match and with it two precious league points and Dorning and Weaving secured them for Lillington in the next two matches. Both players took four legs to do it, with Dorning beating Truman and Weaving getting the better of Hickling. Cooper and Wiggins were unable to add to the total, dipping out against Finney and Greaves respectively, but the win was secured.
The afternoon’s match was always going to be the crucial one, with Lillington due to face second placed Halton. Halton had dropped a point in the morning with an unexpected draw against Mount, which meant that a win against them would move Lillington level rather than just a point behind.
It was Dorning, again, who opened for Lillington and faced Beth Farnworth. Dorning won a fairly comfortable opener, but that was not a sign of things to come. The second way also went Dorning’s way, but this time by the narrowest of margins 11-9. Farnworth was growing into the game and her strength when blocking in the quick rallies was added to with perfectly timed counters and she found herself back level at 2-2. The deciding leg was a tense affair before Dorning finally managed to pull away at the end to win 11-7.
The good start, unfortunately, did not continue as Halton put the hammer down to win the next three games in a row. Cooper lost in four to Ryan Lunn, Weaving also lost in four to Michael Lunn and Wiggins couldn’t find a way to stop Jake Shaw’s forehand and lost three-straight.
At 3-1 down, winning both doubles became imperative and Dorning and Cooper saw off the two Lunns in four. Wiggins and Weaving had a good start in their doubles, moving 2-0 ahead before Shaw and Farnworth pegged them back. With their tactics sorted, the Halton pair duly completed a five set win 11-4.
This meant that Lillington required four successive games to win the match, but in the event it was Halton who made it a five-game winning run to take the match 8-2. Dorning lost in five to Ryan Lunn, Weaving and Cooper lost 3-0 to Farnworth and Shaw respectively, with Wiggins managing a little better in taking a leg off Michael Lunn before losing 3-1.
With one weekend remaining, due to be played in March, the top two and promotion now looks out of the question, barring a lot of shock results. Drumchapel Glasgow and Halton are tied at the top on 17 points and will battle for the title. Lillington’s challenge now looks to be to pip Ormesby to third. The two sides are level on points, but Ormesby hold third by virtue of a better sets ratio.
Lillington would like to extend their continued thanks to Fulcro, a Bidford-on-Avon based engineering company, for their sponsorship. Fulcro are an innovative, creative engineering team who provide Building Information Modelling (BIM) and Virtual Design and Construction services. Further information is available on their website: http://www.fulcro.co.uk/
Photo – Timmy Cooper (L) and Lee Dorning won both their doubles games during the weekend.
The second weekend for National Division C-3 of the Senior British League was held at Draycott and Long Eaton Table Tennis Club on the 12th/13th November and the Lillington Free Church side, sponsored by engineering company, Fulcro, were looking to put pressure on the top of the table.
Sitting in fourth after the first weekend in September, the Lillington side opened their weekend with a match against Bromley who were a point behind them in fifth. Lee Dorning met Bromley number one, Thomas Savary, and the first three legs were tight affairs, Savary going 2-0 up before Dorning pulled one back. The match was all about the forehands and whilst Dorning’s was mis-firing, Savary’s was getting more accurate as the match progressed and he won a more comfortable fourth to take the game 3-1 and get Bromley off to a winning start.
Timmy Cooper was next up for Lillington, taking on the more defensive Peter Canavan. Again, the first three legs were shared as Cooper tried to work out a way past Canavan’s excellent retrieving combined with opportunistic attacking. It was Cooper who took the third leg, before running away with the fourth to level the match score at 1-1.
The two matches before the doubles were shared. Tom Brocklehurst couldn’t impose his attacking game on the defensive Jarendra Patel and Bromley inched ahead. Sam Wiggins then immediately restored parity with a convincing win over Mark Nicholls and the match was poised at 2-2.
Both doubles were four-leg affairs, both going the way of the Lillington pairs. Dorning and Cooper beat Savary and Patel, which was followed by a win over Canavan and Nicholls by Wiggins and Brocklehurst.
Savary pulled Bromley back within a point at 4-3 with his second win of the match, this time against Cooper, but Dorning, Wiggins and Brocklehurst reeled off the next three games to secure a 7-3 win in the opening match for Lillington.
Sam Weaving was restored to the line-up for the second match of the weekend, Lee Dorning making way against Wood Green II. After Timmy Cooper had beaten Anil Patel, Weaving found himself 2-0 down against Luke Gittins, who’s forehand block was out-positioning him to good effect. Weaving dug deep and started to implement some tactical changes which saw him sneak a 14-12 leg and stay in contention. Becoming more comfortable with the new tactics, Weaving grew in stature and never looked back as he convincingly won the final two legs to put Lillington 2-0 up in the match.
Wins followed for Sam Wiggins and Tom Brocklehurst in the singles, which were added to by Cooper/Weaving and Wiggins/Brocklehurst in the doubles. The rest of the match was relatively plain sailing as Cooper, Wiggins and Weaving won their second singles without dropping a leg. Brocklehurst surrendered a 2-1 lead in the final game of the match against Harpal Juttla, but won the fifth convincingly and completed a 10-0 whitewashing of the division’s bottom side.
Sunday’s first match was a vital one for Lillington. They faced third placed Ormesby who, after also winning their Saturday fixtures, remained a point ahead in the table. A close match was expected and that was exactly how it turned out to be.
Lee Dorning got Lillington off to a perfect start with an efficient straight sets win over Ormesby IV number one, David Ashwell, before Ormesby replied with a 19-17 deciding leg victory over Timmy Cooper by Jevon Chan. Chan’s last British League appearance was 30 years ago against England legend, Des Douglas!
Sam Wiggins restored Lillington’s lead with a win over Peter Wilkinson. Wiggins won the first two legs, with a notably impressive 11-6 in the second, but Wilkinson came back into the match showing exceptional fight to save match points in the fourth and force a decider. Wiggins, though, held his nerve and took the fifth 11-9 with consistently strong, well-directed forehands.
Sam Weaving faced Michael Young, Young in possession of a powerful backhand, made harder to return by virtue of his short pimples, and a spinny, well-angled, forehand. The first leg was a close affair, with Weaving staying strong at the end to edge it 11-9. Buoyed by the first leg, he then sailed through the second before Young rallied and took the third leg to the wire. Weaving, though, kept his cool and completed a 3-0 win.
Dorning and Cooper had a hard fought doubles win against Chan and Ashwell, being extended to the fifth leg before finally putting them to bed and putting Lillington 4-1 up and in a commanding position. Wiggins and Weaving were unable to find a solution to the Ormesby pair of Wilkinson and Young and when Ashwell beat Cooper in 4, Lillington’s lead was cut to 4-3.
Dorning stepped up and proved too strong for Wilkinson, winning 3-0 and putting Lillington on the brink of victory, needing one of the next two. The first chance came as Weaving took on Chan, Weaving taking a 2-1 lead that included two deuce legs. Weaving managed to get to 10-7 up in the fourth but Chan pulled out the next five points to force a decider, which he breezed through 11-5.
Wiggins was left to try and overcome Young for the match and despite nicking the first leg, found himself 2-1 down. The fourth leg was hard fought and went the distance, but it was Young who held firm at the end and took it 12-10 to snatch what had looked an unlikely draw for Ormesby. An excellent match and a terrific fightback from the Middlesbrough based side meant they kept their one-point lead over Lillington in the table.
Sunday’s last match marked the start of the second half of the season’s fixtures, so Lillington were looking to repeat their 7-3 victory over Mount from the first weekend. Mount had strengthened their side from the first weekend with the addition of Chun Yin Yu, a youngster with an extremely aggressive forehand and the footwork to get it in from all angles, so it was expected to be a tougher test this time round.
It certainly proved to be that way with Chun flying past Lee Dorning in the first match to give Mount an early lead. Mount’s number two, Duncan Wraight, looked like he would be little trouble for Timmy Cooper as Cooper raced into an early lead with some clever positional play which left the defender seemingly without any answers. However, Wraight adjusted and clawed his way back and was unlucky to lose the leg 12-10. Wraight did win the next leg though, 16-14, before Cooper took the final two, both 12-10, in a very close match.
Tom Brocklehurst met Peter Smallcombe, but was unable to put Lillington into the lead. Smallcombe went 2-1 up, with a convincing third leg and then looked set to seal it in the fourth before Brocklehurst pegged him back and forced a decider by winning 13-11. In the fifth, it was Brocklehurst who pulled away first, but it was Smallcombe’s turn to overhaul a deficit and he put Mount back into the lead.
The pattern continued. Weaving levelled the match at 2-2 with a win over Dean Eadington, before Dorning and Cooper lost the final two legs of their five-leg doubles 12-10 against Chun and Wraight. Weaving and Brocklehurst also saw their doubles go the distance, but won the decider 11-7 against Smallcombe and Eadington. Cooper managed to take the second leg off Chun, but was unable to consistently apply the necessary pressure to prevent Chun winning 3-1 and putting Mount 4-3 up.
Having only drawn against Ormesby IV, for Lillington to keep the pressure on a draw would not be good enough and a loss disastrous. Dorning stepped up against Smallcombe and simply had too much power for his opponent with a largely trouble-free 3-0 win which levelled the match at 4-4.
Weaving then faced the second pressure game and looked in fine form, hurrying into a 2-0 lead against Wraight. As he’d earlier done against Cooper, though, Wraight adjusted and as Weaving started to miss he capitalised on the situation by taking the next two legs. Moving into the fifth, the momentum was with Wraight and Weaving had it all to do. To his great credit, Weaving composed himself and took fewer risks, showing greater patience to construct the point. It was by no means easy and the decider was a close run affair, but Weaving raised his game at exactly the right time to win it 11-8 and put Lillington ahead for the first time in the match.
The final pressure game, required to take two precious points rather than a mere single, fell to Brocklehurst. The first leg against Eadington was nip and tuck at the start, before Brocklehurst pulled away to take it 11-7. With the first leg in the bank, the remaining two were free of drama with Eadington struggling to control Brocklehurst’s serve which helped Brocklehurst to a 3-0 win and snatch a 6-4 win for Lillington.
In their final Sunday match Ormesby IV suffered a heavy defeat to second placed Halton III, a result which saw them drop to fourth with Lillington moving into third by a point. Lillington sit third on 11 points from 8 matches, with Halton III on 14 from 8 and league leaders Drumchapel Glasgow III a further point ahead on 14.
The next fixtures are due to be played on Sunday 11th December 2016, with each side playing two matches. Lillington will open against XLNT Draycott V before facing off in a huge clash against Halton III which will determine whether they are going to be able to challenge for the top two spots.
The Lillington SBL side for 2016/17 is sponsored by Bidford-on-Avon based engineering company, Fulcro, an innovative, creative engineering team who provide Building Information Modelling (BIM) and Virtual Design and Construction services. Further information is available on their website: http://www.fulcro.co.uk/
Photo – Sam Weaving (R) receiving advice in the corner during the match against Ormesby IV from team-mate, Timmy Cooper.
October 22nd/23rd marked the start of the Junior British League season for 2016/17, with Lillington Free Church Table Tennis Club sending a team of junior boys to the Derby Arena to compete in Division 2B.
Last season the club came away with a silver medal in Division 2B, but with two of the medal-winning side no longer able to compete in the junior events it was time to blood some new talent from the within the club ranks. Timmy Cooper, last year’s number one, has been joined by club-mates Adam Cofler, Jack Green and Lewis Singleton.
In another notable change from previous years, this season also marks the first sponsorship deal the club has managed to secure for the Junior British League competition. Locally based IT solutions provider, NS Optimum, have generously covered the cost of the team kit this season and the club is extremely grateful for their assistance.
NS Optimum are a Total IT Solutions Provider to schools and colleges throughout the UK. Since the early 1990s they have supplied thousands of schools and colleges from their wide range of products and services. They have developed long-term partnerships with schools in both the state and independent sector.
NS Optimum provides complete IT solutions to small nursery and infant schools right through to colleges, including primary, junior, middle, secondary and independent schools. They are responsible for some of the UK’s largest campus wide school networks providing in many cases a complete managed service. You can find out more about NS Optimum and the services they provide by visiting their website at www.nsoptimum.co.uk
The Lillington boys started their campaign with a match against a strong Halton side and if they were under any illusions as to the quality of opposition in the division, things were quickly cleared up and Timmy Cooper, Adam Cofler and Lewis Singleton were whitewashed 6-0. Cooper put up a good fight against Halton’s number one, Keir Morton, going the distance before the deciding fifth leg just got away from him.
Next up were Kingfisher who boasted the prodigious young talent, Jamie Liu, amongst their ranks. Cooper was first up for Lillington and failed to cope with Liu’s speed and spin in the first leg before adjusting and becoming more competitive in the ensuing legs. Liu, who represents England in the younger age groups, was just too sharp, though, and ran out a 3-1 winner.
Jack Green was brought into the side for the second match and produced some excellent play in his opener against Sam Liu, showing good touch combined with attacking intent. Green lost two close legs before taking the third, but the fourth ran away from him.
Adam Cofler also fell to Sam in four legs, and did extremely well to take the Kingfisher number one, Josh Gallen to four legs. Cooper extended Gallen to a fifth leg, which he came through to win 11-9 and pick up Lillington’s first win of the day, salvaging some pride in a 5-1 defeat.
The last match on the first day was against top-seeded Market Rasen. Rasen’s number 1, Sam Chesterman, was in imperious form as he blew away Cooper and Green 3-0. Lewis Singleton produced a fine effort against Nick Keast, taking him to a fifth leg before succumbing. Green was unfortunate not to take Rasen’s Tom McIntosh the distance, as a strong finish at the end of a competitive fourth leg gave McIntosh a 3-1 win. Cooper lost the first leg to Keast, but knuckled down to reel off the next three. Lillington leaving the match with a second 5-1 defeat.
Day two of the weekend started with a match against Ulster and Cooper got things off to a positive start with a comfortable 3-0 win against Conor Nugent, using a combination of controlled blocking and offensive top-spin from both wings.
Adam Cofler followed this up with an outstanding win against Ulster’s number 1, James Magrath. In a see-saw match, Cofler found himself 7-8 down in the deciding leg when a time-out was called from the corner. Composing himself and cutting out the cheap errors that were costing him, Cofler reeled off the next four points to put Lillington 2-0 up in the match.
Jack Green was next to step up and faced Connor Smith. Green found himself 2-1 down and squeezed home in a tight leg to go to the decider. Green’s touch play was superb and he used it to great effect, denying his opponent opportunities early in the rally and attacking first to take control of the points. Green opened up a big lead, before Smith started to narrow the gap. Another effective time-out was called to stem the come-back tide and Green went back to the table, served intelligently and finished the job 11-6.
Lillington were guaranteed at least a draw, but the win looked far from certain as Cooper couldn’t find a way past Magrath and Green found himself on the wrong end of an 11-6 fifth leg this time against Nugent. This left Cofler to play the final game of the match against Smith. After winning a tight first leg, Cofler was ominously blown away in the second. Cofler, though, stayed calm and found his attacking range to take the final two legs and give Lillington their first win of the weekend 4-2.
The final match of the weekend was against Irish Boys. It was another hard match for the Lillington boys and they found themselves 3-0 down as Green, Cooper and Singleton were defeated by Thomas Joyce, Dillon Byrne and Art Mclaughlin respectively.
Cooper stemmed the tide with a win over Joyce – four 11-9 legs being shared, before Cooper came through a tense decider 17-15 to notch one on the board for Lillington.
A draw was still possible, but it wasn’t to be as Green and Lewis fell to Mclaughlin and Byrne in straight sets, leaving the final result as another 5-1 defeat.
At the end of the weekend, Lillington sit in 5th place in the table on two points; two above Ulster and two below Irish Boys. Halton lead the way with nine points, followed by Market Rasen (eight) and Kingfisher (7).
The Lillington boys fought hard all weekend and they will doubtless learn from the experience, looking to come back stronger for the second weekend, taking place in January.
Photo – Lillington FC JBL squad members (L-R) Adam Cofler, Lewis Singleton and Jack Green, with Director of Coaching, Chris Mulligan, presenting a team shirt, signed by England No.1, Kelly Sibley, to Rob Smith, Sales Manager, of NS Optimum, Lillington FC TTC JBL 2016/17 Team Sponsors.