by Brian Croasdale
I am no Paul Drinkall, neither am I Liam Pitchford. One thing I do know is that I can recognise great table tennis when I see it and this week I have.
The start of the Matlock season was perfect.
Eight scheduled matches all played on time and all with full strength sides. What more could the League Management Committee ask for?
My first thought on seeing the fixtures was one of quiet satisfaction with the Division One Champions Rowsley 08 down to play new side Cromford Spireites, promoted teams Detonators and Hopes Fulfilled both at home and the ever-dangerous Cylinder Cougars, moving to the Whitworth Academy, doing a metamorphosis to become Whitworth 1st.
Warren Slaney (2) opened for champions 08 with a match against Spireites’ player Tim Denby.
Warren was given a thorough testing by Tim, coming from two games down to pinch the win for Rowsley. Further wins by Jamie Smith (2) and Sam Perry (3) made it appear as though nothing had changed as Rowsley cruised into a 3-0 lead. Jake Meikle (2), the former Derbyshire Champion, had other ideas though and recorded comfortable wins over Warren and Jamie, before Rowsley ran out the winners 8-2.
Promoted Detonators faced another new side Cromford New Boys at the Community Centre and found the going tough against the class of Cromford.
Eddie Gregory (1) was the exception, completing a win over Phil Rastrick(1) before just going down in five to Stuart Morris (3) in a thoroughly absorbing tussle. A great future is anticipated for this lad, which we will follow with some interest.
On Friday at the Whitworth Academy, promoted team Hopes Fulfilled faced the experienced Cromford Community Centre, who were at full strength.
Dave Hill(2) beat Tony Gregory(1) and also Daniel Burton(1) while Mike Douglas (2) beat Tony and Andrew Burton(2) in five before Louis Gay (1) beat Daniel Burton to give Hopes Fulfilled a well-deserved share of the points.
Whitworth 1st had Geoff Gill (3) in stupendous form which was just as well because all the Rowsley Scorpions side were on good form and have had lots of practice during the close season.
Mike Bradbury, the Scorpions’ number one, was again working and, rushing, was probably not at his best. Geoff Gill(3) faced him first and had a seemingly effortless victory in three straight games.
John Davies(2) and Keith Bradshaw(2) completed wins over Mick Padley and Andy White, but a win in the doubles meant a final score of 6-4 to the Scorpions.
You really couldn’t make the story up. Four matches scheduled in Division Three and all four ending up with 5-0 wins to the successful sides.
Favourites Whitworth Rifles C were away to Matlock Marauders on Thursday and both Bradley Vallance and new player from Chesterfield Max Smith were untouchable, taking only 30 minutes to complete the match.The Cabers faced the Degenerates and had a seemingly comfortable time with a win. Their captain Chris Long dropped himself, allowing Adam Lavelle(2) and new signing Luke Steeples (2) to play the fixture. Both won but Sam Bunting and Alistair Richards put up creditable performances.
The experiance of Scared Hitless was evident right from the beginning of their match with Whitworth Stars Paul McDonald(2) and Connor Davies (2) were far too good for the youngsters Cameron Griffiths and Thomas Elson, but it is early days and I am sure they will improve with more competitive play.
The final match saw the girls of Batty Birds playing the girls of the Gators team, all four players being new to the Matlock Association. I must confess to casting a sideways glance at this match as my wife and Helen Griffiths(2) were both making their debuts.
Good performances from both as they ran out winners 5-0 and all credit to Pat Thorley for her summertime coaching sessions.
This week sees the Division Two teams join the action and with some more good players involved exciting matches can be anticipated.