The second and final weekend of the 2018/19 Junior British League competition took place at the Derby Arena, with the two Lillington sides hoping to build on the experience gained from a tough first-weekend campaign.
The NS Optimum Lillington Boys team, with the continued kind sponsorship of the local IT solutions provider, started the weekend in 5th place of Division 2A, level on points with bottom placed Sussex Blades.
The first match for the boys’ team of Ricardo Bolanos, Jack Green and Nikit Sajiv was against London-based Greenhouse Sports. Greenhouse, looking to break into the top two of the division, were highly focused and although three of the six games went the distance, Green’s win over Josh Amanor was all the reward they got, losing the match 1-5.
Things weren’t likely to get any easier when the second opponents of the weekend arrived in the guise of Ormesby B. The Middlesbrough based club are traditionally strong and their second string were clear at the top of the division. Bolanos pushed Ben Piggott all the way but couldn’t quite get over the line, leaving it to Sajiv to save the whitewash with a fine win over Adam Webster. Another 1-5 defeat for Lillington.
Saturday’s last match brought some relief, with Lillington securing a 3-3 draw against St Mary’s Tigers. The outfit from Hull had Ché Goulbourne in imperious form, not conceding a single set, but Bolanos, Green and Sajiv all contributed to secure the point. Bolanos beat Rowan Jones 3-1, with Green and Sajiv both putting paid to Eshan Jawadi.
Sunday brought with it two matches to finish the season. The first was Cardiff City and an incredibly sharp trio of Joseph Roberts, Martin Johnson and Benedict Watson steamrollered through to a 6-0 win.
The curtain came down for Lillington with a fixture against Sussex Blades, one which would determine which team would finish above the other. The Blades held the advantage, being 1 point ahead, which meant Lillington would need a win. Green got them off to a great start with a five set win over Owen Brown, including a stunning comeback in the fifth and deciding set. Bolanos was unable to find a way past the tricky long-pimpled Charlie Graham-Adams, but Sajiv restored the lead by taking out Will Mitchell.
Bolanos fought hard against Brown, but lost a tight game in the fifth, after which Green stepped up to comfortably defeat Mitchell 3-0. This left Sajiv needing to beat Graham-Adams to secure the win but, alas, he was unable to find an answer to the unorthodox opponent and the match ended in a draw.
Ormesby B were clear winners of the division, with Cardiff City trailing them by four points. Lillington finished in last place, just a single point behind Sussex Blades.
The Lillington Girls started their second weekend at this level of competition at the foot of Division 3, a point behind Byng Hall and were seeking to improve on their first weekend results which had yielded two draws.
Wensum were the first opponents for Emily Beasley, Milly Green and Ciara Hancox and Green almost got them off to a perfect start against the deceptively effective Victoria Coll, pushing her all the way before just missing out in the deciding set. Beasley then stepped up for her own five-setter, showing good determination to beat Natasha Johnson 3-2. Beasley completed a fine double when she beat Coll 3-2 and Hancox added one of her own in yet another five set game to secure an opening draw for the girls.
Woodfield were the second team on the roster and the first weekend’s experience suggested they would be right up there competing for honours. Beasley and Hancox were on the wrong end of a couple of matches which went all the way, with Beasley managing to take out Ruby Bennett for the sole point in a 1-5 defeat.
Mid-table Bishop’s Auckland also handed out a 1-5 loss for the girls with their number 1, Pravesha Ravi, cruising through her games. Hancox missed out in five against Amy Mold, but Green picked up a fine win against Ebony Hempsell to avoid a pointless return for Lillington.
The crunch match against Byng Hall came first thing on Sunday morning and the girls raised their game for the occasion, triumphing 4-2 in a match where half of the games went the distance. All three showed they had good mental strength to back up their play with Beasley, Green and Hancox all coming through deciding sets. Beasley beat Nicola Dawson and Green and Hancox put paid to Isabel Webb. The fourth point was taken by Hancox, beating Dawson.
The JBL season concluded with a match against Ormesby, which the northern side won 4-2. Green took one of the points with a great win against Reem Raseem and Beasley the other, also against Raseem.
Wensum topped the Divison 3 table, two points clear of Woodfield. Lillington, despite an excellent draw against the eventual winners, were unable to overhaul Byng Hall and finished a point behind them.
After the Boys 3A title winning season of 2017/18, 2018/19 proved to be a far more difficult affair for the club. The boys, having gained promotion, found themselves in a very strong division and can be pleased with their efforts against the high quality opposition, even if the results weren’t always as they would have wanted. The girls, too, can be proud of their play over the two weekends. Their first exposure to the top team competition in the country was always going to be hard, but they fought well and improved with every match. The sides will doubtless be back next season, looking to continue to raise the bar.
Lillington Free Church Table Tennis Club had two three-player squads competing in the first weekend of the 2018/19 Junior British League, held at the Derby Arena.
For the Lillington Girls, it was a return to the competition for the first time since the late 1990s and the trio of Emily Beasley, Milly Green and Ciara Hancox were able to follow in the footsteps of the 90s side by lifting the Team of the Weekend trophy. The trophy, which Lillington Girls previously lifted in the 1997/98 season, is awarded to the team who, in the opinion of the umpires and officials, show not only good play but also an outstanding attitude and excellent sportsmanship throughout the two days. The club is incredibly proud of this achievement, which is in keeping with their long-standing ethos.
On the table, though, the girls faced some tough opposition and were given a testing introduction to the tournament by the Ormesby side. Emily Beasley picked up a win against Reem Raseem, and Milly Green came through a five-setter to beat Katie Bates. The remaining sets were well contended, but the girls couldn’t add to their total and fell to a 4-2 defeat.
If the first match was tough, then the second one proved to be a notch even higher! Lillington competed well in every single leg played against a very sharp Woodfield side containing Megan Jones, Jyothmaji Ghanti and Maliha Baig, but could find no way past any of them and lost the match 6-0.
The last match on Saturday was against Bishop Auckland and saw the girls pick up their first point of the weekend. They each picked up a game, with Beasley beating Anya Milne, and Green and Ciara Hancox beating Ebony Hempsell in the 3-3 draw.
Sunday’s first match saw the girls pick up where they left off and the promptly added their second point with another 3-3 draw. Beasley was instrumental against Byng Hall with an excellent maximum against Nicola Dawson and Isabel Webb, whilst Green added the crucial third point by beating Dawson.
The weekend was completed with a match against the table-topping Wensum team. Although Beasley obliterated Victoria Coll 3-0, the match ended with a 5-1 defeat. The two points from five games leaves the girls at the foot of Division 3, but within touching distance of the two teams above them and they will no doubt be stronger for the experience next time round.
As for the Lillington Boys, having won Division 3B last season, Ricardo Bolanos, Jack Green and Nikit Sajiv were always likely to be up against strong opposition in Division 2A and it certainly proved to be the case. Once again, the Lillington Boys team have been sponsored by Leamington IT solutions provider, NS Optimum whose support over the last few years has been greatly appreciated by the players and the club.
First up for Bolanos, Green and Sajiv were Greenhouse Sports. Bolanos took out Cacherel Merjer-Mercer, whilst Sajiv accounted for George Long, but although Green just missed out in a deciding set, nothing more was forthcoming and they lost the match 4-2.
Ormesby Boys were unlikely to prove to be any easier, with Tom Rayner leading them as a very strong number one. Green pushed Rayner all the way in a pulsating five set clash, for which he deserves immense credit, but a 6-0 whitewash could not be avoided.
The boys completed their first day against Sussex Blades and Sajiv excelled with a maximum. He beat Owen Brown 3-1, before dishing out a 3-0 defeat to Will Mitchell. Bolanos, narrowly missed out in a deciding set, which left Green to show steely focus to beat Mitchell 3-1 and earn a draw for the team.
Sunday morning brought another severe test, with Lillington facing off against Cardiff City. The Welsh trio of Joseph Roberts, Martin Johnson and Benedict Watson were in red hot form at rattled of a 6-0 win.
The boys’ weekend was completed with a match against a St Mary’s Tigers side boasting two notable players in their ranks. Although the match was lost 4-2, Sajiv picked up a good win against Che Goulbourne, before Bolanos took the scalp of the high-class Harry Dai with an outstanding 3-1 win.
The boys side sit 5th in the table at the end of the first weekend, the draw against Sussex Blades proving crucial in avoiding the bottom rung of the ladder. Although points were hard to come by, the lads from Lillington fought well in what was an exceptionally strong division.
Both teams will be back in action at the start of February for the concluding weekend of the 2018/19 Junior British League.
We are very pleased to be able to confirm that NS Optimum, the Leamington based IT solutions provider, have once again agreed to extend their sponsorship of our boys' Junior British League team and will be partnering with us for the 2018/19 season.
The 2017/18 JBL season was a succesful one for the boys team of Jack Green, Ricardo Bolanos and Nikit Sajiv, who overcame a 6th place seeding to finish up as JBL Division 3 Champions! The 2018/19 season takes place on 10/11 November 2018 and 2/3 February 2019 and the three lads will be hoping to continue their success.
The club, players and coaches are extremely grateful for NS Optimum's continuing generosity.
Please visit the Sponsors section of this website to read more about NS Optimum.