Melbourn II vs Haverhill I
Mon 4th February
Melbourn lost 7-16
With little to chose between the top three sides in Division 4, just three points separating them, there was a lot riding on this match between the 2nds (top before the start of play) and Haverhill (2nd).
The first match on was Mark (4), who was making his seasonal debut against Gary Last. Mark started like a house-on-fire, Gary struggling to read his cross-court power as he ran away with the opening game 15-5. Some wise words from his teammates appeared to settle Gary down, and he began to feed off the pace rather than be burned by it. He was particularly reading Mark’s crosscourt from the front forehand corner. Gary built a 14-10 lead, but Mark clawed things back to 13-14 with solid play before a poorly executed drive popped out to give Gary the chance to kill things off. Game three was extremely similar, reaching 10-14 but then Mark storming back, saving game balls. This time the rally at 13-14 went Mark’s way thanks to a nerveless drop shot fractionally above the tin. He also won the next two points as Gary looked dispirited. However, the fourth started in Gary’s favour until an unfortunate clash of racquet and head opened up an eyebrow. After a ~10-minute pause for running repairs, it was Mark who took charge on the restart, recovering a 5-1 deficit immediately and powering through to take the game 15-10 and the string 3-1.
Skipper Roger (5) did not settle down initially against a somewhat tricky opponent in Malcolm Day. Despite gaining the lead, Roger lost the first game 14-16. After that Roger took control of the match and won the second quite convincingly. By Malcolm was missing opportunities and made a lot of errors and the Melbourn player ran in a comfortable winner 3-1 [ed – the last two games were both 15-2!].
Third string paired Sean (3) against Nathan Ttophi and his brilliant Edwardian handlebar moustache. Game one was tight, but that was more through dogged battling by Sean and some uncharacteristic errors from Nathan (who is an extremely strong 3 for Div.4). Made things afterwards would have been different if Sean had claimed the breaker, but it went the visitor’s way, and from there Nathan cleaned things up to win 3-0 fairly comfortably.
Matt (2) struggled from the start to find his form against Tony Archer, who was very much in form. The first game was lost quite quickly with Matt still unable to find his usual rhythm and reliable drop shots. Under a lot of pressure, Matt made more mistakes and could not hold back an opponent who efficiently won 3-0 to level the scores on the night.
Top string paired Jan (1) with James Fitzpatrick. Jan was making his second comeback from several months out, baring one ill-advised outing a few weeks ago. He was worried about his fitness, but it turned out that James was also nervous due to a groin injury. In fact, the winner here was the manufacturer of Deep Heat, given the amount used! Despite being clearly hampered in his movement, James’ shot making was enough to win him game one, and also game two as a tie-break went against Jan. Game three saw the Melbourn player finally able to exploit his opponent’s reduce mobility, winning it 15-10 but game four went very wrong as Jan’s tactics and execution went awry and he capitulated 15-5. To a man on one leg. D’Oh!
Roger commented “This was a top-of-the-table clash and we were expecting a tough match. We competed hard but at the end of the day we were beaten by a stronger team. However, we are still aiming for promotion with just 5 matches to play”