Table Tennis

Ellenborough and Tees Sport are the cream of VBL

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In thrilling finishes to the Veterans’ British League, Ellenborough retained their Women’s Premier Division title on sets difference, while there are new champions in the Men’s Premier, where Tees Sport won the title in the deciding game of the final match left on court.

The matches were played at Derby Arena and Draycott & Long Eaton TTC, with almost 400 players in action and 15 divisional champions to be crowned.

Women’s divisions

Winners Ellenborough with Table Tennis England Director Ritchie Venner

Ellenborough went into the weekend a point clear of Foresters, but it was back level after the second round on Saturday as the leaders were held to a 3-3 draw by IPS Tigers.

Clare Peers edged past Hurey Ahmetoglu 15-13 in the fifth to put Tigers ahead, and they also led 2-1 and trailed 3-2 in a match which both could have won.

In the end, Zoe Podmore defeated Tumay Ekrem in three to secure a point for Tigers.

The following round saw Ellenborough slip from the top spot as they once again had to settle for a draw, this time against Bribar Failand.

Continuing the parallels with the Tigers match, both sides led and Ellenborough were in front at 3-2 before being pegged back, this time as Janet Adams defeated Ekrem 15-13 in the fifth.

It was still in Ellenborough’s hands going into Sunday, as a win over Foresters in the final round would put give them the title by a point – but a third successive draw in the penultimate round changed all that.

This time, it was Market Rasen who clinched the 3-3 scoreline, though this time Ekrem rescued what would turn out to be a vital point as she beat Jane Vickers in four in the final match.

So to the showdown. Foresters knew a draw would secure them the title, while Ellenborough needed a win – any scoreline would do, as they held the advantage on sets difference.

It was 1-1 after the first two matches, but Ellenborough had one hand on the trophy when victories for Rebecca Hurrell and Ahmetoglu put them 3-1 ahead.

Alice Flatman beat Hurrell to reduce the gap to 3-2, and when Julie Byrne led Ekrem 2-1, it seemed Foresters were suddenly favourites again. But Ekrem turned it around to win 3-2 (12-14, 11-7, 6-11, 11-8, 11-5) and give Ellenborough the title.

Ahmetoglu topped the divisional averages with 18/20 (90%), while Foresters’ Wanda Litynska-Sydorenko also had 90%, from 10 matches all played on Weekend 1.

The Women’s Division 1 champions with Ritchie Venner

Topspin Fusion headed Division One by a point from Waterside Fusion of Ladies after the first weekend, but ended up pulling clear to take the title by five points.

That was courtesy of a 100% weekend, while Waterside were defeated 4-2 by third-placed Billwood in Round 8.

It meant nothing was riding on the final match, but that was a 4-2 win for the champions over their nearest rivals.

Mijung Choi of Topspin topped the averages and was the only player with a 100% ration, from 12 matches. Anita Jermyn won 14/16 in second place for Waterside.

Cleeve Park at the presentation

Division Two went down to sets difference and Cleeve Park won the title, despite having won fewer matches than second-placed Foresters III.

Three draws and only one defeat was the champions’ record, whereas the runners-up had one draw and two defeats.

One of those two defeats came in the first match after the eight-team division had split, as Ashford beat them 4-2.

It meant a win for Cleeve Park in the final match against Foresters would give them the title, and it was 5-1 in favour of the champions, though they did trail 1-0 after Sue Pingram beat Rita Lopes in five.

Nicola Duke had an impressive 15/16 for the champions, while Christine Wicks of Foresters finished with 14/16.

The Division 3 presentation

The seven-team Division Three went the way of Foresters IV, winning by two points ahead of Drumchapel Glasgow.

That was despite losing 4-2 to the Scottish club in the final round – Foresters had already done enough. Joy Daniels won all 10 matches she played for Drumchapel.

Men’s Divisions

Tees Sport Vetts receive the trophy from Table Tennis England Director Ritchie Venner

The Premier Division title race was always destined to be close, with Tees Sport Vetts, Topspin Fusion and defending champions Team Bribar all level on seven points after the first weekend.

With some tasty matches in prospect later on in the weekend, it was perhaps a surprise when Team Bribar, who had won five of the six previous titles, were beaten 5-1 by Lilleshall in the first round of the weekend.

It left the champions with it all to do, and when they dropped another point in a 3-3 draw with Tees Sport on Saturday night, in reality the title had gone.

Bribar led twice in that match, but also trailed 3-2 before Niall Cameron rescued the point by defeating Mark Short to complete a personal double. It was a win apiece for Andrew Wilkinson, Short and Adam Fuzes for Tees.

Topspin Fusion had been keeping themselves in it with three wins on Saturday, and they put themselves in pole position with a 5-1 win over Bribar on Sunday morning.

It was not a thrashing, however, as all five matches won by Fusion were in the fifth game, including doubles for Lorestas Trumpauskas and Eli Baraty.

It meant Fusion were a point clear of Tees Sport going into the final match – and what a match it was.

Neil Charles beat Baraty to put Tees in front, but Trumpauskas levelled by overcoming Short. Fuzes restored the Tees advantage against Neil Pickard, but once again Trumpauskas hauled his side level, defeating Charles 3-2 (12-10, 9-11, 11-9, 7-11, 11-7).

Fuzes completed his personal double by coming from behind to beat Baraty 3-2 (8-11, 11-9, 12-14, 11-6, 11-5), setting it all up for Short and Pickard to decide the title.

With every other match at Derby Arena having ended, it meant quite a crowd gathered to see a real tussle before Short edged home 3-2 (11-3, 12-10, 11-3, 5-11, 12-10) to seal the title.

It was a double celebration for Fuzes, who topped the averages with 15 wins out of 16.

The Division 1 (Group 1) champions

Central took the Division 1 (Group 1) title as they finished a point clear of Foresters B. The runners-up were undefeated – but will rue four draws across the two weekend, while Central drew one and lost one.

Central still needed something from the meeting of the top two in the final round, and they had to dig in to recover from 2-1 and 3-2 down, Chris Clinton winning the crucial final match 3-2 (11-4, 9-11, 7-11, 12-10, 11-8) against Jack Boult.

Adam Laws of Central was top of the averages with 15/16 (93.75%).

The Division 1 (Group 2) champions

Draycott ruled supreme in Division 1 (Group 2), winning all 10 matches and losing only nine individual ties across the two weekend, taking the title by a colossal – potentially a record? – 10 points from Westfield Nomads.

The spearhead for Draycott was John Taylor, who won all 16 of his matches.

The Division 2 (Group 1) champions

Division 2 (Group 1) saw leaders Joola Plymouth fall away, failing to record a single victory on Weekend 2 and ending up in third place.

They were a point behind runners-up BATTS, who in turn were five points behind champions The Musketeers, who only dropped one point all weekend, in a 3-3 draw with BATTS.

Paul Whiting, who won all 10 of his matches, topped the averages, but was unable to play for Joola Plymouth on Weekend 2. His team-mate Paul Giles won 18 from 20 – Tim Dyson of Musketeers separated them in the averages, winning 15/16.

The Division 2 (Group 2) champions

Horsham Spinners won Group 2 by six points from Foresters D, but were unable to complete a perfect season as they were surprisingly beaten 4-2 by Newton Abbot, who finished fourth, in Round 7.

Spinners’ Oleh Biletskyi topped the averages with 18 wins from the full complement of 20 matches, with his team-mate Rory Scott only one win behind. Paul Carter of Foresters also got 90%, from 10 matches.

The Division 3 (Group 1) champions

Nailsworth Phoenix were the Division 3 (Group 1) champions, by four points from Ashford.

The runners-up did at least get bragging rights in the final round of matches, defeating the champions 4-2 to inflict on them their only defeat of the campaign.

Lee Thomas of Nailsworth topped the averages with 10/12, ahead of Percy Collino of Ashford, who won 16 of the full complement of 20.

The Division 3 (Group 2) champions

Group 2 was a lot tighter, with champions Halton only taking the trophy on games difference from Norton Commandos.

Both had matching records of seven wins, one draw and two defeats and a sets ratio of 2.16. Halton will be relieved to have got the verdict on games ratio of 1.73-1.67, having gone into the weekend three points clear and with a 100% record.

Norton won four and drew one on Weekend 2, including beating Halton 4-2 in Round 9, but Halton fell over the line with a 4-2 win in their final match, against Border Reivers.

Anthony Bates of Halton had a 90% record from 20 matches. His team-mate Tony Worthington topped the averages with his 10/10 from the first weekend.

The Division 4 (Group 1) champions

Division 4 (Group 1) went to Graham Spicer II with an almost perfect record – only a 3-3 draw in their final match against Foresters E prevented a clean sweep as they topped the table by seven points from TableTennisDaily.

Dariusz Zurowski hit a full house of 20 victories to top the averages, three wins ahead of team-mate Jaroslaw Chrzanowski.

The Division 4 (Group 2) champions

Cutnall Green were unbeaten champions in Group 2, dropping only eight individual matches and one point as a team, which was on Weekend 1.

They beat their nearest rivals, Cippenham II, 5-1 in the final round to take the title by three points.

Not surprisingly, the champions dominate the averages, headed by Stephen Horton with 15/16.

The Division 5 (Group 1) champions

Division 5 was played at Draycott & Long Eaton and Swerve came out on top by three points from Ashford II in Group 1.

They lost only one in their 10 matches – to fourth-placed Dyflin in Round 7 – and were led by the immaculate Steve Brunskill, who won all 20 matches to lead the averages from Davoud Afzal of Graham Spicer III with 18/20.

The Division 5 (Group 2) champions

Butterfly Lilleshall B remained undefeated as they won Group 2 with seven wins and three draws.

That put them a point clear of Halton II, whom they beat 4-2 in the final round to seal the title.

Several players had 100% records, including Tony Vaughan on 10/10 for Halton, but of those who played across both weekends, Hemal Raval of Lilleshall was the best with 18/20 for 90%.

Ellenborough and Tees Sport are the cream of VBL Table Tennis England.

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