Monthly Archives: February 2015

Table toppers keep up the momentum

This week Prefects, Swots and Prospects were the teams in league action and it all happened in St Andrews on Monday night.

The Prefects needn't have looked so anxious before their match

The Prefects needn’t have looked so anxious before their match

Prefects (Kong Wan, Ian Smith and Howard Lee) faced Division 2 Rockets from Broughty Ferry, who were hardly weakened by bringing reserve Ian McLagan into their line up for the night. Howard was again at his very best, smashing all before him, and with Ian and Kong also picking up another three terrific wins between them, the St Andrews team ran out narrow 6-4 winners to keep their promotion challenge well on track. Prefects were never behind in the contest but the result wasn’t decided until the battle of the Ians, in match nine, when Smith thrashed McLagan in three straight games. Kong, who has played some heroic last matches in recent weeks, then had the opportunity to extend the margin of victory in match ten but, after winning the first game was overcome by ‘quick Carol’ McLean and lost 1-3.

The other two St Andrews teams faced up in Division 3 for the second of their derby fixtures. Swots set out their playing order to win matches early on, but their strategy was blown out the water when Prospects’ Maxi Strobl played out his skin in the first match against Dave Beveridge. Then, in the next match, Swots’ Robert Brown couldn’t get a grip of Collin Bleak and Swots suddenly found themselves 0-2 behind. Emma Bissett finally got Swots off the mark against Neil Lea and six of the next seven matches went to the table toppers, including Robert and Dave’s 3-0 doubles win over Maxi and Collin. The exception was Collin’s second win of the night, a tight five game affair against Emma. With the result secure, Swots looked like putting the icing on the cake when Dave had Collin on the ropes at 2-0 but the big man changed his tactics and dramatically took the next three to complete a terrific hat-trick. Final score Swots 6, Prospects 4.

With only a handful of fixtures to go, and Prefects and Swots still on top of their divisions, the nerves are jangling to see if the club can complete the double promotion that has looked very possible for a few weeks now.

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King Kong drives Knut nuts

It was a great week for the three teams from St Andrews Table Tennis Club in action in the league.

New Kids had another free week which meant that, on Monday, Victory Memorial Hall was the sole prerogative of the Swots. The opposition were Topspin from Monifieth High School, who have struggled all season to field a team and struggled to win matches when they did. Even with a full complement of players the youngsters were not in the same league as Robert Brown, Dave Beveridge and Emma Bissett who each, as expected, won all the matches on offer. The 10-0 win gave Swots the honour of being the first team in any of the three divisions to pass 100 points and it put them back on top of Division 3. However, that was only expected to last until the following night, when fellow title chasers, Tigers, were due to play Prospects.

The bearded Dr Bleak crushed Division 3’s top player in straight games

The bearded Dr Bleak crushed Division 3’s top player in straight games

How wrong can you be. Tigers unexpectedly turned up a man short on the Tuesday and Prospects took sufficient advantage to help their stable-mates stay at the top of Division 3 and keep themselves in the top half. Dave Goddard and Emily Howat both played terrifically well and put both Tigers players under severe pressure, but it was Collin Bleak who starred by beating the division’s top player Kenny McLaren in straight games and repeating the feat against Charlie Ross. It was only Kenny’s second defeat of the season. Although Prospects were unable to secure another win, Collin’s two points were enough to grab a priceless 5-5 draw from the fixture.

Also on Tuesday, Prefects achieved an equally valuable away win over fellow promotion hopefuls, Defibrillators. The Gauldry team weren’t helped by the absence of Graham Wood through injury and this may yet be a turning point in the destiny of the Division 2 title. It was nip and tuck the whole night with Prefects taking an early (but slender) lead and then going behind after James Shaw and Knut Radmer beat Howard Lee and Ian Smith in the doubles. However, this was the signal for Prefects to shift up a gear and they impressively won the last three singles matches to secure a 6-4 win. The decisive last match witnessed a ding dong battle of the septuagenarians with the Prefects’ Kong Wan (age 74) from Hong Kong taking on the relatively young Knut (age 72) from Germany. Applying his knowledge of quantum physics and Euclidean geometry, Kong nutted Knut 11-3 in the fifth game to ensure an overall victory in the fixture. Our trio picked up two singles wins each to stay top of Division 2.

Day of the Daves – Swots and Prospects progress to quarter finals

New Kids, Swots and Prospects were in Handicap Cup action this week, while Prefects had a re-arranged league match. If last week’s action was dramatic it had nothing on what unfolded in St Andrews and Broughty Ferry on Monday night.

In Victory Memorial Hall, Prefects (Ian Smith, Howard Lee and Kong Wan) fought out a terrific 5-5 draw with Barons in Division 2. There was never more than a point between the teams. Young Scott Hamilton from Barons returned another impressive hat-trick of singles wins and partnered the equally youthful Craig Shearer to a five game doubles win over Ian and Howard. Prefects weren’t letting them have it all their own way though. Howard and Ian both beat Craig and John Thain, and the final result of the fixture came down to Kong’s energy and experience versus Craig’s youth and raw talent, in the last match of the night. It was a breathtaking contest. Kong has two speeds, fast and really fast, and he deployed them both to come back from 0-2 to win the match 14-12 in the fifth.

Alongside, Swots (Dave Beveridge, Robert Brown and Emma Bissett) were playing Thumpers in the Handicap Cup. Swots got off to a good start and were 5-2 ahead after four matches, the best of which was Emma’s 2-0 defeat of Jim (of the awkward bats) Fleming. However, only Robert could pick up a win over the next three matches and Thumpers moved 8-6 in front. The next two matches and the final outcome were to be decided by tie-break points. Emma first beat Ian McLagan 2-0, taking the first game 26-25. Dave, who had lost 14 points in a row at the start of the night, took the first game off Tony O’Shea 26-22. Struggling to win points on Tony’s serve, Dave squandered a big lead in game two, but rallied to 25-25. With Tony to serve, Dave finally made another decent return and the Thumpers’ player dumped the ball in the net, probably through sheer shock. Final score Swots 10, Thumpers 8.

Dave Goddard

Dave Goddard

If that was dramatic, it had nothing on Prospects’ cup tie against Comets in the Ferry. After five matches Comets were 8-2 in front, and then only one game away from victory when Neil Lea and Glenn Christie shared match seven 1-1. Captain Maxi Strobl rallied his troops with a storming 21-9, 21-9 win over Fraser Smith. Dave Goddard then had the big task of having to beat Eric Brown 2-0 to take the contest into a deciding third game between the same two players. Dave is a fair size himself and he proved he has the heart to match. The big man reeled off three games 21-15, 21-19 and 21-18 to snatch victory from the jaws of defeat. A special mention goes to the recuperating Neil Lea, chairman of the St Andrews’ Club, who won a crucial game for the Prospects in this tie. Final score Comets 9, Prospects 10.

The final contest of the week was New Kids’ handicap cup tie against Kingsway at Blackness Fire Station. Despite the best efforts of Peter Bladen, Michael Hahn and Nick Shepherd, there was to be no joyful outcome to this contest. The Kids are having a lean spell just now and Kingsway were in no mood to make them feel better. The Firies made a great start to the tie to go 4-0 ahead. While New Kids rallied a bit around matches three to five, to narrow the lead to 6-4, Nick Shepherd and Peter Bladen then lost both of the next two matches 2-0, to Willie Cooper and Derek Thomson. The handicaps may not have done New Kids any favours, over the piece, but that made it game over. Final score Kingsway 10, New Kids 4.

At the end of the week’s activity Prefects remain top of Division 2, for now, and Swots and Prospects progress to the quarter final of the Handicap Cup. Not bad.

High stakes for St Andrews TT teams

The tension, the tension….it’s getting unbearable. With lots at stake for all four St Andrews teams this week, there was high drama, some terrific performances and one or two disappointments.

On Monday in Victory Memorial Hall, Prefects kicked off the week with a Division 2 match against Chieftains. It started well. Howard Lee and then Kong Wan had our boys 2-0 ahead before Ian Smith and Kong lost the next two in straight sets. However, Howitzer Howard had Prefects back in front in match five with a surprisingly easy demolition of Jim Tawse. Prefects then lost the next four matches, including the doubles, to go 3-6 behind. Although the fixture was lost, every point counts, and Howard was in no mood to give Chieftains another one, beating rising star Jack Bell in four games. It was a pity that Howard’s finest performance in a St Andrews shirt didn’t coincide with a win for the team. Final score Prefects 4, Chieftains 6. Prefects still top Division 2 though.

Across the hall, Prospects were recording their best (if not biggest) win of the season so far in Division 3. Lairds are no mugs and had given Prospects an 8-2 going over in the first half of the season. Not this time. Maxi Strobl, Collin Bleak and Dave Goddard all beat Eddie Dougan and Gary Aitchison, Eddie’s five game curse returning to haunt him in his matches with Maxi and Dave. Lairds wins all came from the bat of young Blair Duncan but the fiery redhead was pushed all the way by Collin and Dave. Maxi and Collin, pals again after a tactical ‘debate’ earlier in the season, made a fine job of dispatching Eddie and Gary in four games in the doubles. Final score Prospects 7, Lairds 3. Prospects now look like breaking into the top half of the division.

On Tuesday, New Kids were forced to play two reserves in a crucial Division 1 fixture at Ward Road against the struggling Kings. It was a tough night for Peter Bladen and reserves, Howard Lee and Ian Smith. Peter beat Plamen Kostadinov in straight games in match three but that was the only point that the Kids could muster. Howard lost the doubles, with Peter, in five games against Angie Guo and Plamen. Howard looked like he would later take revenge on Plamen when he took a 2-0 lead in their singles match but lost the next three games to 7, 4 and 8. The 9-1 result gives Kings something of a lifeline and, after looking like their first division status might be secure, pitches New Kids into the relegation battle.

Swots – L to R Emma Bissett, Robert Brown and Dave Beveridge have fought their way to a four point lead in Division 3

Swots – L to R Emma Bissett, Robert Brown and Dave Beveridge have fought their way to a four point lead in Division 3

Alongside, Swots were playing Squires in Division 3. Between now and the likely showdown with Tigers in the last fixture of the season, the game for Swots is about dropping as few points as possible. Squires are a tricky outfit, so Swots would readily have accepted a 9-1 victory before the match started. Dave Beveridge dropped the only point for the St Andrews team with a nervy performance against Steve Wilson. Emma Bissett was also pushed to five games by Tanya Kapelyukh, but won. Once Dave had got a grip, Swots snatched the other seven matches without losing a single game. Robert Brown was simply untouchable for Swots all night and Emma’s 3-0 demolition of Steve Wilson, losing only twelve points in the process, was clinical. Swots now top Division 3 and have a four point lead over Comets.