by Brian Croasdale
I’ve had a strange couple of weeks working with the Whitworth Academy, who have been getting ready for their first outing down in Wellingborough.
Since the demise of Team Matlock, Whitworth Academy have stepped in to take over the mantle of the official representatives of the Matlock & District Table Tennis League.
We travelled down to Northamptonshire last weekend hoping to have enough under the bonnet to at least compete at the highest level.
Captain Andrew Middleton (Rowsley Scorpions) had selected a useful side in John Davies (Scorpions) Mike Bradbury (Scorpions), Martin Dean (CDTTA A) and Keith Bradshaw (Cromford CC) to represent the league.
It turned out to be a powerful and positive display that left the side eager for more table tennis at this high standard. On Saturday, they were drawn to play Grantham Tornadoes and Redlands Rogues 111 and on Sunday Westfield 111 were followed by Woodfield 1V UK Deaf.
On Saturday, they lost to Grantham 5-3. With England number one junior 15-year-old Emily Bates in their side, Grantham proved to be too strong as a team and she deservedly took the “player of the match award”.
Wins by Martin Dean (2) and John Davies (1) were the Whitworth successful players.
A better outcome was hoped for in the afternoon match against Redlands Rogues 3rds and this they acheived with a 7-1 scoreline in their favour. Wins by all of the side meant a good first day, made better by Mike Bradbury being given the coveted players award.
Sunday saw matches against Westfield 3rd and Woodfield 1V UK Deaf and the side arrived at 9.45am eager and ready to play. Captain Andy Middleton dropped himself in favour of Keith Bradshaw of Cromford. Up first were Westfield and they had a shocking start going three matches down before replying with the next four.
The final match between Martin Dean and M.Horrocks was to be the decider which unfortunately ended with Whitworth losing 7-11, 13-11, 11-13, 9-11. Still, a draw was a creditable result against a very good side.
Last match of the weekend was against Woodfield 1V and again a shocking start meant the side were facing a two-rubber deficit before taking all the remaining matches to earn Whitworth a hard-fought 6-2 win. Man-of-the match Martin Dean won both his games as Woodfield struggled to gain a foothold after a useful start.
Captain Andy Middleton was rightly proud of his players and justifiably pleased with his side’s first outing in the South Midlands west section. Training has been good and they pulled together as a squad playing at a high tempo.