Halwell ramp up pressure on defending champions
DIVISION One Champions Newton Abbot Batmen continue to lead the way after a 10-0 whitewashing of lowly Bishop's Academicals.
But a resurgence from the 2006-7 champions Halwell bounced the team of Mick Atkinson, Rod Sugden and Dave Wadling back into contention for the title.
Catching up with some postponed matches, Halwell snatched five victories from six to catapult themselves from sixth to second place.
They only failed in their away meeting against Brixham Sharks who currently occupy the third spot. In that match, young Brixham starlet Jazmin Johns shone throughout, winning all three individual games in straight sets against Sugden and Wadling before coming through 11-7 in the fifth against Atkinson to help the Brixham team to a 6-4 win.
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Halwell played with just enough of a winning edge against Battlers and Taverners to amass 18 points in the two encounters but only a few of the games were straight-set wins.
Pete Nicholson and Keith Hawkins put up a big fight and Ed Thompson was able to take a point for Battlers.
Geoff Read and Colin Harrop came out the wrong end of five-setter games for Taverners. Richard Jessop was able to take the sole point for Taverners beating Atkinson in three 15-13, 11-6, 12-10.
The real stutter for Halwell came during their meeting against the reigning champions. Dennis Gibbs and Nick Halse had given Batmen a 2-0 lead against Atkinson and Sugden before an epic game took to the table.
Wadling has always struggled to play his best at Newton Abbot, but with new lighting and the prospect of playing against his old team-mate Kevin Nicholls, he started the night in really good form.
Nicholls tried to match Wadling's counter hitting style, but just missed out in the second set 13-11 to go two sets down.
Also at 8-5 down in the third with Wadling hitting well, it looked all over. But Nicholls backed away from the table and with some quality high side-spin lobbing, he managed to force mistakes from Wadling and take the set.
The fourth set was all Nicholls and at the start of the fifth, as early as 3-1 down Wadling had all but given up, but won the next two points.
At 5-3 down however, Waddling crashed out again and Nicholls was gifted the win.
There were no such concessions when Wadling played Gibbs and Halse, beating them both in three straight for the second time this season.
In the end, an 8-2 win for Batmen keeps nine points of daylight between them and their nearest challengers.
BRIXHAM Trawlers continue their march to the title and promotion back to the top flight in Division 2. 9-1 wins against Brixham Swallows and TTTA 1.
Together with an 8-2 victory over Dawlish Diamonds, Trawlers have put a massive 36 points between themselves and second-placed Marldon.
Trawlers' Alan Maynard, Terry Stead and Chris Baron all enjoyed maximums in the matches with Maynard now leading the Division Two averages over team mate Geoff Beavington.
Marldon matched the Halwell feat of sixth to second in Division Two with big 9-1 wins over Brixham Pirates, both at home and away, as well as on their travels to Dawlish to play their second team Diamonds.
In those encounters, Dave Atkin, Graham Holmes and John Oatley all won maximums to begin the Marldon ascendancy. However, only one point separates the three teams of Marldon, TTTA 1 and Newton Abbot Longshots in the quest for second spot.
Longshots failed to take home advantage on board in their meeting with TTTA 1. Star of the evening was talented youngster Dan Brewer, who powered through Newton's Andy Tyrrell in three straight and overcame Zach Stevenson and Mike Coxhead 11-7 and 11-4 in the fifth sets respectively.
With strong support from Sam Perkins and Simon Furgol they came away 7-3 victors to keep in touch at the top.
Down at the bottom, Brixham Swallows and Dawlish Diamonds shared the points to force nearly 20 points between themselves and the drop-zone currently occupied by struggling Brixham Pirates.
Joshua Millman for Swallows improves week on week and on this occasion deserved his maximum, beating Don Beesley, Bruce Freeman and Dave Davies, the latter 16-14 in the final set.
TORRE Table Tennis Academy's second team TTTA 2 leapt to the top of the division over Hasbeens, beating last season's Division 3 winners in convincing style 9-1.
Peter Heathcote and Rhys Lush both won fine maximums over Hasbeens' Dave Alexander, Richard Fitzgerald and Gerry Bennett to leapfrog Hasbeens into the top spot with a game in hand.
Fitzgerald won the only game for Hasbeens 12-10 in the fourth against Robert Excell however Excell praised his new youngster:
"Young Rhys played in an entertaining yet skilful style to take all three of his games, the most nail-biting being the win over Fitzgerald 6-11, 15-13, 7-11, 14-12, 12-10."
Close at hand is Marldon Badgers who also jumped over Hasbeens into second spot even though they succumbed to Hasbeens 6-4 on their visit to Bishopsteignton. In that match, Richard Fitzgerald was back to his best beating Badgers' Mike Hern, Simon Hern and Mike Green.
The father-and-son Hern duo were able to win the doubles to stop the rot and then capitalise with a 7-3 win over Brixham Rebels and an 8-2 victory over Dawlish Drifters to keep in touch with TTTA 2.
Down at the bottom, although points have been gained, Brixham Panthers still struggle to find their first win going down to Dawish Drifters 8-2 and 9-1 to Brixham Rebels.
Tania Johns helped the cause winning two games against Brixham Swifts to force a draw and keep the hope of gaining points on their rivals alive.
For more information about the Acacia Blinds South Devon & Torbay Table Tennis League, see www. sdt-tabletennisleague.co.uk.