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Braintree League: Rayne defeated their title hoodoo in style

Braintree League: Rayne defeated their title hoodoo in style


Perennial Bridesmaids Rayne A finally reached the top of the Braintree Table Tennis League this season after finishing second for the past six years.

Champion Netts A mixed it up with them at the start of the season, briefly holding top spot in weeks seven and eight after a win over Rayne and Rayne's surprise defeat two games later to Liberal B, but a defeat to Liberal A knocked them off again . and then Rayne sailed into the sunset. In the next five games they only dropped two points.

Nett's chances of securing a third consecutive title always looked problematic after they lost the services of 2022 men's singles champion Michael Andrews.

Rayne was strengthened by the addition of Maria Boulton, who joined from Netts B, who won 22 of her 24 sets.

Paul Lucas won 36 of 41, 2019 champion Lee McHugh won 14 of 15 and with Adam Buxton missing just one match, improving his average from 61 per cent last season to 71, they finished with a comfortable lead of 19 points.

The new Rayne C, with Steve Pennell and Ian Whiteside dropped from the A team, finished just eight points behind Netts, while the next four teams, Black Notley B, Liberal A, Liberal B and Sudbury Nomads were just two points behind them.

The Netts club may have missed out on the top-flight title, but compensation came with the success of their B and D teams in divisions two and three.

Nett B's success was built around two of the strongest players in the division, Szczepan Ziobro and Joe Meleschko, with 31 out of 37 and 34 out of 41 respectively, with the added assurance of the support of one-time first division regular , Jon Hill. , undefeated in his 17 sets.

Sudbury Wanderers pushed them hard until they faded on the run-in and Rayne D overtook them with three games to go.

Longtime reserve Dave Moles opted to play more regularly this season and he and Richard Whiteside formed the backbone of the team, finishing with almost identical averages of 73.8 and 73.3.

Nett's father-and-son combination, Jimmy and Charles Calisin, were something of a revelation in division three. Both improved immeasurably from the previous season, something to be expected from a junior, but Jimmy almost kept pace with his son and they combined to win 85 of their teams (141 sets), including eight unbeaten successes in doubles.

Their main challengers were Great Yeldham, a new team who entered as part of the league's joint initiative with Table Tennis England to provide them with a table and equipment.

However, they found their own players and seasoned campaigners Lorraine Burgess, Doug Sanders and Kevin Mills ensured that Netts D did not have it all their way.

If the league had been calculated on the basis of two points for a win and one for a draw, they would have finished top with Notley G in second, but that would have required turning back the clock 59 years.




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