With the start of the new season and the excitement of the Wimbledon Ballot and Club Championships Draw, the exploits of our various league teams have largely gone unnoticed.
However, having been, somewhat unjustly, relegated from Division 2A last season despite finishing 3rd in a division of 5 depleted due to the withdrawal of Newbury, our 1st Men’s Aegon Team have been beating all challengers in Division 3 and now sit in joint 1st place with Windsor 2 with 2 matches to play. The next match is against bottom club BCS 2 in a week’s time and the last match is a battle for the top spot against Windsor at the beginning of June.
Back in April, the team started with a 6-0 win against Shinfield. This was a confident win and the only blemish was the loss by David Smith of his first set against the Shinfield No.1, Thanh Liem Than. However, he more than rectified that by taking the next set 6-0 and winning the tie-break. James Brennan at No.2 beat Tim Atkins 6-1 6-0, Russell Finch, No.3, beat Sean Haggerty 6-4 6-1 and John Phillips at No.4 beat Peter Bechtold 6-4 6-3. In the doubles Smith & Phillips beat Than & Bechtold 6-0 6-1 while Finch & Brennan won 6-1 6-1 aganst Atkins & Beck to complete the whitewash.
Next up were Bisham Abbey 2. Matt Paxton at No.1 fought well to take the first set 7-6 against Robert Daly but Daly proved too strong and took the next 6-3 and the tie-break. At No.2, David Smith also had a tough first set aganst the wily Norman Bhargava but won it 7-6 and took the second 6-1. At No.3 James Brennan was the third Crow to win a tough first set, this time 7-5, and followed up by taking the second 6-3. John Phillips had a relatively straightforward time at No.4 beating Justin Walker 6-1 6-0. As in the first match, our team was on a different level in the doubles, losing just 4 games in total to make the match score 5-1.
Just last week the team visited Wokingham to play their 1st team and Matt Paxton at No.1 was in fine form, crushing Michael Childs 6-0 6-3. David Smith at 2 had a tougher time aganst Duncan Coles and, despite winning the first set 6-3, he went on to lose the next 1-6 and the tie-break. Russell Finch then had the satisfaction of beating a player he had faced the previous week in the O45 Veterans playing for Bucklebury. Darren Dunmow had partnered Berkshire ex-county player Andrew Rogers in that match in which Bucklebury prevailed, so it was sweet revenge for Russell as he dismantled his opponent 6-3 6-3. Completing the lineup was Andy Sayer making his first appearance of the season in the AEGON at No.4 and crushing his opponent Alex Soto 6-0 6-2. In the doubles, Wokingham’s Duncan Coles continued his strong form, teaming up with Childs to beat Paxton & Finch 6-0 6-2, but Sayer & Smith, our 2015 Men’s Doubles champions, were able to ensure the match win with a 6-2 6-3 victory against Soto & Dunmow.
The three wins mean that promotion is almost in the bag; a loss against BCS seems most unlikely and, with a strong team available for the trip to Windsor on 4th June, we could soon be congratulating the Division 3 winners!