Ravenscroft Senior British National League Weekend 4 Report 2016/17 Season
Ravenscroft II - Lawrence Stacey, Ben Foss, Alex Robinson & Paul Hainsworth
Close but no cigar was the overall outcome for the Ravenscroft sponsored Guernsey table tennis teams this weekend in their pursuits of Senior British League titles. With both of the leading teams having taken the honours in their respective divisions last season, the hope was for another year of glory and respective promotions, however whilst the titles may have narrowly eluded the sides, there is still the chance for promotion to higher divisions.
The first team of Garry Dodd, Joshua Butler, Joshua Stacey and Phil Ogier were beaten to top spot by Fusion II in National B-3 in Reading, whereas the second team of Lawrence Stacey, Alex Robinson, Paul Hainsworth and Ben Foss were very unlucky to miss out in National C-4 in Widnes to North Ayrshire II by just 2 points, despite having by far the best record in the Division in terms of sets and games won.
In Reading the side started excellently with a 9-1 win over Kingfisher II, with the only defeat coming for Butler, who missed out to the awkward left hander Hari Gehlot in 5 ends. Gehlot also caused problems for Dodd, but Guernsey’s own left hander came through over the full 5 sets. Ogier was making his season debut and he put in a man of the match performance with a 4 set win over Sam Liu and a comfortable straight game win over Anaya Patel to close proceedings on the encounter.
This set-up a tasty clash against Fusion II, who at the time were level on points, in a winners take all clash. Unfortunately for the Sarnians, the clash did not go to plan and a heavy 9-1 defeat was incurred. Joseph Hee is the stand out player in the division and the defender contributed heavily to the win, beating Dodd in 4, Stacey in straight games and also part of the doubles combination with James Smith that defeated Dodd and Stacey in 5 sets. Ogier was unfortunate not to add to his brace from the morning clash as he narrowly lost out to both Sherwin Ramata and Jamal Dennison over the full 5 sets. In the end it was Stacey that restored some pride for the local side with a comprehensive straight sets win over Dennison.
The encounter with Finsbury on Sunday ended in a surprise 6-4 defeat, with the opposition taking both of the important doubles rubbers. Dodd made no mistakes in the match and came through against both Karim Kassal and Hoang Vu, whilst Butler and Ogier each beat Kevin Kan. A key match within the encounter was between Stacey and Kassal and despite leading 2-0, Stacey was cruelly edged out 16-14 in the deciding 5th end.
The outcome of that match had no bearing on the league table though, as the 2nd position was emphatically obtained with the side in 3rd an incredible 9 points behind.
Over in Widnes at the Halton Stadium, the 2nd and 3rd teams were completing their campaigns with excellent success. The 2nd team knew that the title was out of their hands and North Ayrshire II expectedly won all 4 of their matches, despite being tested by their opposition in all matches. Ravenscroft II did more than enough and evidenced the dominance they have held over the Division this season with 4 utterly decisive victories. This was clear to see as just 1 individual match was lost out of the 40 contested over the weekend.
A 10-0 win was achieved in the opener against then 3rd placed side Ormesby VI and 7 of the matches were won in straight games. Of the 2 games to go the distance, the first saw the debutant doubles combination of Stacey and Hainsworth battling back from a 2-0 deficit to overcome Adam Webster and Rana Rassem, whereas Robinson was tested strongly by the very impressive 11 year old rising talent Benjamin Piggott before taking the decider 11-6.
Ormesby V were the next victims, however the encounter saw the only minor blip for the Guernsey side, a 9-1 win achieved. The only defeat of the weekend came for Hainsworth, who was edged out by the tricky veteran Steve Crosby in 5 sets. Crosby edged the opening 2 ends 12-10, 11-9 and an unreturnable edge and net closed proceedings in each instance. Despite battling back with comfortable 11-5 outcomes in the 3rd and 4th ends Hainsworth was unable to take the decider and went down 11-6. The other 5 set match in the match came between Foss and the vocal defender Ryan Nassau. Nassau edged the first 2 ends 12-10 and it looked like an upset was on the cards, but Foss held his nerve very well and navigated through the remaining 3 sets fairly comfortably.
4th placed side Halton IV and Bishop Auckland were the sides to feel the full force on Sunday, with venue hosts Halton the first to incur a whitewash. There was just the single 5 set encounter in this match and it came between Robinson and the high quality Hungarian Kristof Pinter. Pinter had beaten both Robinson and Foss in the encounter earlier this season and was once more the danger man. Foss had earlier done very well to bounce back from losing the opener to win in 4, but Robinson made an even better comeback by bouncing back from a 2-0 deficit to take the decider 11-4. Stacey had his closest singles match of the weekend in this encounter when he came through 14-12 in the 4th against the erratic Jordan Mcgarry, the same score by which Hainsworth overcame him later in the encounter.
The final side to be brushed was 7th placed side Bishop Auckland and it was achieved in record time. Only 3 individual sets were dropped throughout the match in an apt finish to the season. Stacey dropped the 3rd set of his singles encounter with Lee Tinkler despite being comfortable throughout as was the case for Hainsworth, who dropped the 3rd against Edward Sett, despite leading 10-7. The other set was lost in the second doubles encounter where Robinson and Foss overcame Tinkler and Sett in 4.
An even greater gap to 3rd place was evident here as Isle of Man were 10 points behind in 3rd. Incidentally this was the only Division of all 14 where the team finishing 2nd had a superior sets and games ratio than the champions and the main reason for this was the use of Premier Division player Chris Main for the encounters just against the Ravenscroft backed side. Foss was deservedly presented with the award for most wins in the Division, having won 27 and just losing once to Pinter. Stacey was next best with 26 wins and was unfortunate to have only lost to Main on the 2 occasions they played. Robinson and Hainsworth also had solid records and won 23 of their 28 singles encounters.
Finally there was some success for the Junior developmental Ravenscroft III side of Ryan Bichard, Daniel Collenette, Ryan Gilson and Matthew Casey on the final day of competition. A gritty 5-5 draw was obtained against Bishop Auckland. Casey was the player of the match and he picked up 2 important singles wins. He breezed past Ben Kelly in straight games but left his best to last in the final encounter of the match. He was up against Sett and managed to squeeze through the decider 16-14 to give his side the point. Bichard had given the side the perfect start when he came back from 2-0 down to overcome Tinkler and he secured another 5 set win alongside Collenette in the doubles when they beat Samuel Hume and Kelly 13-11 in the decider. The final victory was obtained by Collenette when he beat Kelly in straight games.
The side came very close to doubling their tally in the afternoon fixture, but were agonisingly edged 6-4 by Ormesby VI. Gilson put in a superb performance consisting of a duo of straight game wins over Rana Rassem and more impressively Chrissy Edwards. Casey defeated Rassem but was unlucky to lose out to Piggott over the full 5 ends. Bichard and Collenette secured another good doubles win over Rassem and Adam Webster over 4 sets.