Lillington Free Church’s Junior Boys were in action at the Derby Arena, competing in the second and final weekend of the Junior British League for 2017/18 and the triumvirate of Ricardo Bolanos, Jack Green and Nikit Sajiv can be immensely proud of their efforts after hauling back a first weekend deficit to end up Champions of Division 3B.
The Lillington side, who have been sponsored for the event by local IT solutions provider, NS Optimum, began the weekend in second place, two points adrift of leaders, Formby, and three ahead of third placed Ormesby. Lillington would face both on day two of the weekend but would first need to overcome the other three sides to give themselves a chance of taking honours.
First opponents, Pompey, were only able to field two players so immediately conceded two points, leaving Bolanos, Green and Sajiv needing to pick up a further two. Bolanos and Green secured the result with wins against Thomas Poynter and Yaj Vashee respectively, but the team were unable to extend the winning margin and the match finished 4-2.
With the potential for things to be very tight at the top of the table, Lillington went into the match against bottom side, Plymouth, determined to do what they could to improve their games ratio. Sajiv took his first wins of the weekend, beating Jarvis Lee and Oliver Cornish in confident style. Bolanos also beat Cornish, as well as Ben Edmunds, with Green beating both Edmunds and Lee in straight games to complete a 6-0 win for the loss of only three games.
The last match on Saturday was against Wood Green and Green found himself in all sorts of trouble in the opener as he went 2-0 down against Ben McDonald registering just three points in those two games. Green, though, remained calm and adjusted his tactics to complete an excellent comeback and win 3-2. McDonald registered a point for Wood Green with a straight games win over Bolanos but that was all Wood Green could muster. Bolanos beat Luke Gittins 3-0, Sajiv oozed class as he blew away Alex Lee and Gittins, and Green completed a 5-1 win with a comeback win over Lee.
It was mission accomplished on Saturday, with Lillington taking six points from a possible six. Table-topping Formby had dropped a point the previous day when they drew with Ormesby which meant that two wins on Sunday would see Lillington crowned champions.
Green endured a tough start against Ormesby, losing to their number one player, Luke Robinson 3-1. Bolanos then took to the table against Ben Savage who, with Kevin De Bruyne-like accuracy on his blocks, extended the lead with a 3-1 win. Sajiv continued his excellent form by rushing to a 2-0 lead against Chris Edwards before being pegged back to a decider. The youngest member of the Lillington team belied his years, though, holding out under extreme pressure to pull a point back for his team. When Bolanos was unable to make a dent in Robinson, the win was no longer possible and attention turned to avoiding defeat. Sajiv returned to the table and saw off Savage 3-1 before Green showed outstanding composure to beat Edwards 3-2 and salvage a draw for Lillington. The significance of the draw was that, as well as keeping them within touching distance of first, it meant Ormesby could not catch them so second place and promotion was guaranteed.
The final match of the weekend and, indeed, the JBL season, was set up nicely. Formby were two points clear and win for Lillington would see them level on points and having to rely on countback. Lillington number one, Bolanos, had been suffering with illness over the weekend but dug deep when his team needed him the most to first beat Yameen Al-Dahari 3-2 and then the number six ranked cadet in the country, Rhys Davies 3-1. Davies had beaten Green 3-1 and Sajiv had blitzed Joshua Parker to put Lillington 3-1 ahead. Sajiv, though couldn’t quite get over the line against Al-Dahari, losing the deciding game. It was down to Green to make sure of the win and then see what transpired on countback. Knowing that each game for and against mattered, Green secured a 4-2 win for his side with a 3-0 demolition of Parker which left the two teams tied at the top of the table, equal on points. When the results were entered and the final calculations completed, Lillington’s superior record of games won to games lost over the two weekends saw them lift the trophy.
The trio have secured the Division 3B title, promotion to Division 2 for the 2018/19 season and served to enhance the reputation of their club with an excellent display of teamwork, focus and attitude over the two weekends. They will no doubt hope for similar success next year.
Pictured: The Lillington Junior Boys Junior British League team receiving the Division 3B Winners trophy from the Chair of Table Tennis England, Sandra Deaton. (L-R) Nikit Sajiv, Jack Green, Ricardo Bolanos.
In another part of this web-site you can read about the exploits of our Junior British Boys’ team who played magnificent table-tennis at Derby arena. I hope they inspire all of our club members, especially our youngsters. In their division Jack, Ricardo and Nikit were seeded 6th of 6 teams but are placed second at the half-way point of the competition after 4 wins and a narrow loss. This season several of our teams have been placed in divisions where they might easily be thought of as one of the lowest ranked sides. As a club we did not object to the League placings as we are confident that our players can learn from the experience and put it to their advantage. I recently heard about a secondary school who had adopted the motto “sometimes we win, sometimes we learn”. We want you to take the same outlook in your matches. Most of you work hard in practice and coaching each week. We know the potential in our club is staggering so be BRAVE, go for it and remember there is no such thing as failure. If you do find yourself on the wrong end of the scores don’t get upset but take away at least one thing that you can work on. Above all ENJOY your matches.
For those of you not yet in the League may I remind you that Jack, Ricardo and Nikit were once beginners who no doubt would have struggled in our present beginners group at BT school. Be inspired to match their achievements. Have a great season!
Lillington Free Church Table Tennis Club sent a three-man squad to the opening weekend of the 2017/18 Junior British League, the top team competition in the junior calendar.
The Lillington side of Ricardo Bolanos, Jack Green and Nikit Sajiv have been supported by local IT solutions provider, NS Optimum, who generously agreed to extend their sponsorship arrangement with the club for a second season. NS Optimum are specialists in the education sector and have supplied thousands of schools since their formation in the early 1990s.
Competing in Division 3B of the league, Lillington were seeded bottom of the six teams on duty and with two of their number making their debut in this competition they were certainly not expecting an easy ride. It was with great delight, then, that the remaining member of last year’s side, Jack Green, got them off to a flying start with an excellent win against Pompey’s Yaj Vashee. Lillington number one, Ricardo Bolanos, failed to find a way past Ali Malloch in a compelling five sets, before youngster of the team, Nikit Sajiv, won in five against Thomas Pointer.
Bolanos was unfortunate to find himself on the wrong end of another five setter, this time against Vashee, as the match drew level at 2-2. Green confidently dealt with Pointer in straight sets and when Sajiv showed great determination to beat Malloch in five Lillington had got their weekend off to a great start with a confidence-boosting 4-2 win.
Joola Plymouth were next up for Lillington and Bolanos showed no adverse effects from his two five-set defeats earlier, making light work of Plymouth number two, Oscar Pollard, 3-1. Green was tested by Ben Edmunds and had to work hard to avoid his opponent’s strong forehand. Thanks to some excellent tactical acumen and variation, he solved the puzzle and took a deciding set to send Lillington in to a 2-0 lead. The draw was promptly secured when Sajiv cruised through his long-pimpled adversary, Isaac Pollard, in three straight sets in which he made a tricky style look simple to play against.
Bolanos quickly put Lillington over the line by beating Edmunds 3-0, with some good footwork allowing him to put pressure on at every opportunity. Sajiv was unable to continue the flow against Oscar Pollard, but Green sealed second win of the day by beating Isaac to leave the final score at 5-1.
Saturday’s last match was against Birmingham based Wood Green and things did not get off to a good start. Bolanos couldn’t get the better of Ben McDonald and Asa Gauntlet’s ability from both wings saw off Green 3-0.
With their 100% win record firmly in trouble, there was some pressure on Sajiv’s encounter with Luke Gittins. In a crucial, and what proved to be a match changing moment, Sajiv showed considerable composure and determination to win 3-0 and reduce the deficit to 2-1. Bolanos stepped up against Gauntlet and played his best table tennis of the day to come through an entertaining game 3-2, before Sajiv stepped back on to the table and pulled out a five-set win of his own against McDonald. Ahead in the match for the first time, Green was never likely to let things slip and duly completed a turnaround to leave Lillington with three wins from three at the end of the first day.
With the first day of play over, the league table was beginning to take shape and Sunday’s first match saw Lillington take on Formby, with both sides level at the top on six points. Green got Lillington off to a stunning start with a win over Formby number one, Rhys Davies. Green found himself 7-1 down in the opening set, before flicking the switch to launch an almighty comeback from which Davies never recovered. Green took the first set, then followed up to complete a 3-0 win.
Bolanos was next on court and the story of his game with Yameen Al-Dahari was one of serve and receive. Although Bolanos had some joy on his own serve, it was Al-Dahari who conjured many points with a wide variety of well disguised serves who held the upper hand, coming through 3-1. Sajiv’s battle with number three, Joshua Parker, went the way of the Formby player who’s controlled placement of the ball coupled with a fast forehand gave him a 3-0 win.
Davies recovered from his loss to Green and gave Formby a 3-1 lead with a win over Bolanos, leaving Lillington needing both remaining points to avoid a first defeat of the weekend. Green completed a comfortable win over Parker but Sajiv was unable to finish the job against the very impressive Al-Dahari and Lillington lost the match 4-2, slipping two points behind their opponents in the league table.
At the end of a long weekend of table tennis, and on the back of a first defeat, it was important that Lillington kept themselves in contention at the top of the table in their final match against Ormesby 3rds.
Bolanos rose to the pressure of leading the side out at number one, beating Luke Robinson to get Lillington off to a perfect start. Not to be outdone, Green then matched him with a 3-0 win against Ormesby’s number one, Chris Edwards, once more showing tactical composure which allowed him to dominate the rallies.
Sajiv bounced back from his Formby defeats in style, beating Ben Savage 3-1, which was followed by Bolanos winning the battle of the number ones, taking out Edwards 3-1. Green was unable to complete the whitewash against Savage, but a 5-1 win was a good way to finish the weekend.
The Lillington trio deserve much credit for making a mockery of the on-paper seeding, with all three putting in accomplished displays over the two days. At the end of the first weekend, Lillington are sat in second place in the table, two point behind leaders, Formby, and three ahead of third placed Ormesby.
Lillington will head to the second weekend in February knowing that another good performance could be enough for them to secure promotion. However, the determined and ambitious youngsters will have their eyes firmly set on the title and will be looking to claw back that two point gap to Formby.