This season saw the intriguingly named division 4 ‘south/east/west/’ take place at Filton College, Bristol. This initially seemed an odd choice seeing as there were 3 teams from Sussex and 2 teams from London but it turned out to be a fine venue with excellent playing conditions while the Filton College staff and players kept everything running smoothly and efficiently providing refreshments to players.
On the first weekend, Waterside put out the squad of Ed Slot (1) James Meyers (2), Jonathan Pearson (3) and consistent defender, Carl Leeson (4). The first round of matches saw Waterside win a hard-fought contest against Horsham Spinners with Ed, James and Jonathan all picking up 1 win and Carl picking up a crucial 2 wins. The second match was against London based team, York Gardens, consisting entirely of juniors. It is fair to say that Waterside did not play to their full potential in this match; although Jonathan and Ed both picked up 1 win, James and Carl failed to convert – no doubt the packing away of equipment contributing to their losses. Nevertheless, York Gardens did well to maintain focus and pull off a convincing 6-2 win. Waterside’s 3rd match, taking place on the Sunday Morning, was against Brighton. Brighton, incidentally, were in Waterside’s division last season where Waterside managed to gain a 7-1 win. However, the same team, led by Tim Holtam, have improved in leaps and bounds as of late. Juniors George Tester and Paul Bergin, coached by Tim, both managing to gain wins over Jonathan and James respectively. Tim was the star of the show picking up 2 wins and although all Waterside players picked up a win each, they’ll be feeling a little disappointed as they all had several chances to win the match. The final match of the weekend was against Horsham II (a completely separate club/squad to Horsham Spinners). This was similar to the York Gardens match in that there were a lot of closely fought matches, Ed managed to get the team off to a good start with a relatively comfortable win over Mark Collins. However, things slowly went downhill from there. It is worth saying that in this match James Meyers performed outstandingly in both his matches picking up a win against consistent blocker Graham Carter and was a little unlucky not to convert his chances against Srilankan international Amila Thilakarathna. Waterside finished their first weekend with 3 points about 6th place out of 8.
The second weekend saw Waterside bring in star Polish player, a friend of Carl’s, Przemyslaw Sikorski in replacement for James Meyers. No-one in the hall, (including our team!) knew quite how good he was throughout the weekend as he never appeared to be tested, a few players got the odd game off him but you felt he was on cruise control throughout. The first match for Waterside was against the current table leaders, London Academy. This is an outstanding club with many fast improving juniors. Omar Khassal won a tight first match of the weekend against Ed Slot 12-10 in the fifth. Przemyslaw got Waterside on the board with a comfortable win over Omar’s brother, Karim. From there on, though it was only Ed and Przemyslaw who picked up wins against Roger Pyle and Omar respectively and so London Academy could be thought a little lucky to win 5-3, with London winning 2 out of 2 five setters. However the next 3 matches over the course of the weekend all went Waterside’s way. The inspired squad picked up wins against Ilfracombe Pirates (6-2), B-Batt Pavillion III (5-3) and Horsham Spinners (7-1). This three match winning streak bumped up Waterside’s point tally by 6 points pushing them into 4th place.
The next single day in January saw the welcome return of Jonny Evans to the team. Initially we were a little worried as to how he would perform as before the match Jon announced he hadn’t picked up his bat since the final league match before Christmas 4 weeks earlier! It didn’t look hopeful at first as Jonny lost the first 2 games against Andre Dunkley (a quality player from the York Gardens squad). However, from there on, Jonny showed his class by reeling off 3 games in a row as well as his remaining 3 matches of the weekend winning 4 singles matches out of 4. It was a very good overall team performance and the squad of Ed Slot, Jonny Evans, Matt Horrocks and Carl Leeson won both their matches against York Gardens and Brighton City 7-1 and 6-2 respectively. While the Brighton match, at 6-2 looked comfortable, Waterside were 2-1 down and valiant performances of Matt Horrocks and Jonny Evans saw them both win intense battles against Paul Bergin and Tim Holtam both 3-1 – at several points during the match you felt they could go either way and this meant Waterside were 3-2 ahead instead of 4-1 behind – a crucial turning point.
The final weekend from the teams performance perspective was a little disappointing. Waterside went into the weekend 3rd on points with Horsham II and London way ahead battling it out for 1st and 2nd. With 1st and 2nd almost out of the question, there wasn’t so much pressure on the first matches as they happened to be against both London Academy and Horsham II. However Waterside were keen to extend their lead on the rest of the field. An injured Ed Slot, suffering from a shoulder injury, had two shock losses against Mark Collins and Graham Carter in Waterside’s first match against Horsham II. Carl Leeson performed fantastically picking up two wins as did Matt Horrocks picking up 1 win. Things didn’t look much better when Waterside faced London Academy, Ed Slot still suffering and while Jonathan Pearson gave Omar Khassal a little scare, leading 8-3 in the 4th set, it was only Carl Leeson that managed to pick up Waterside’s only win. The third and fourth matches saw up and coming defender, Jamie Trevillion replace Ed Slot. With Carl Leeson ill, Matthew Horrocks and Jamie Trevillion picked up two crucial wins against Ilfracombe Pirates to gain a 4-4 draw. The final match saw a disappointing end to Waterside’s British League season, with Matthew Horrocks picking up Waterside’s only win against B-Batt Pavillion III.
Despite this though, Waterside finished a very respectable third behind 2 teams that arguably belong in higher divisions. It was a true team performance with every team member contributing with vital wins.
For results, have a look at https://tabletennis365.com/sbl/Results/Team/Statistics/SBL_2012-13/Division_4_South_-_East_-_West/Waterside
By Ed Slot