Match No. 12
Cromer suffered another defeat this week in what was their final match of what has been a disappointing Norfolk SRA League Division Three season. For the match at home to Potters II former club champion John Baker was again available and he came into the team to play the first string match in place of the unavailable Matt Copeman while Technical Director Barry Starling resisted the temptation to recall himself and gave a debut to Steve Price who, after a series of impressive internal league results deserved his chance to play at No.5. Martin Sanville, John Chandler and Matthew Jordan kept their places in the middle of the order.
Price found himself on a steep learning curve and although he battled hard he was up against a wily and experienced player and it was no disgrace that he went down to a straight game defeat. Jordan, in contrast, has benefitted from an extended run in the team and, buoyed by his recent success in the club's handicap tournament where he finished as runner-up, was always in control of his fourth string match and comfortably came out on top 3-0.
The decisive matches were the second and third string ones. At No.3 John Chandler gave as good as he got against a very good opponent and although he lost in straight games he only lost each of the three games by the narrowest of margins and on another day and with luck on his side he could just have easily won by the same score. Martin Sanville was up against his opposite number and after taking the opening game, lost the next two before drawing level at 2-2. Again the final game could have gone either way but it was the Potters' captain who came out on top 13-9 to win the match 3-2 and ensure his side would take the bonus points.
In the final first string match John Baker found himself playing a very deceptive and unorthodox player and struggled in the first game. He recovered to win the second and then after losing the third narrowly lost the fourth 12-14 to lose the match 3-1 which meant the visiting Potters side ran out winners 17-6.
After the match Starling said: "Unfortunately this was the story of our season. I was pleased to be able to give Steve Price the chance to represent the club and Matthew Jordan's game has certainly improved no end. We weren't disgraced in the other three matches but luck went against us at vital times. As it is we finished the season in sixth place in the division which isn't too bad but if we had been able to field our strongest team throughout the season we would have finished higher."
Results:- John Baker lost to Cliff High 3-13 13-10 8-13 12-14 Martin Sanville lost to Darren Green 13-11 5-13 5-13 13-10 9-13 John Chandler lost to David Cook 11-13 12-14 12-14 Matthew Jordan beat Graham Fackman 13-8 13-9 13-10 Steve Price lost to Richard Soanes 6-13 3-13 5-13
Match No. 11
For his team's penultimate Norfolk SRA league Division Three match of the season away to UEA II Cromer's Technical Director, Barry Starling was once again struggling to raise a team of five players and he was, for the first time this season, forced to call upon the services of former club captain, Martin Braybrook to complete the team and play the fifth string match. Matt Copeman was available to play at No.1 while team captain Martin Sanville and veteran John Chandler played the second and third string matches with Matthew Jordan at No.4.
Starling suspected his team would be in for a tough evening when they arrived at the University courts and found the five young students taking part in some vigorous pre match warm up routines and this is what happened. Copeman, who had to rush off to Stansted airport immediately following the match was first on court and although he narrowly won the first game of his match was unable to build on this and went down to a 3-1 defeat. Jordan, meanwhile was playing on the adjoining court and after losing the first game had several chances to draw level but committed the cardinal sin of serving out on "game ball" and lost the second game 14-16 before going on to lose the third and go down to a straight game defeat.
Braybrook battled hard in his match, especially in the second game but was never really in with a realistic chance of winning a game and then the captain, Sanville, became the third player to lose in three straight games as he found his wristy opponent too good.
In the final match of the evening John Chandler was up against the students' captain who he actually beat on the Cromer courts earlier in the season. The courts, however, are like chalk and cheese and although he did win the second game to draw level at 1-1 he was always on the defensive in the third and fourth games and went down to a 3-1 defeat. This meant that the Cromer team suffered a heavy 20-2 defeat and also meant that they dropped a place in the division from fifth to sixth where they will almost certainly finish the season.
Starling said afterwards: "The youngsters were simply too good for us. They are young, keen, fit and enthusiastic and able to adapt to the fast warm courts. When we saw their warming up routines I thought that was something we should adopt and I will try and get our team to work on this before the start of the summer season. In the meantime we have got one match left to play and hopefully we will give a better account of ourselves."
Results:- Matt Copeman lost to Jamie Nesbit 13-11 9-13 8-13 7-13 Martin Sanville lost to Ash Sinha 11-13 8-13 7-13 John Chandler lost to Tom Greenfield 8-13 13-11 9-13 10-13 Matthew Jordan lost to Graeme Brittain 6-13 14-16 7-13 Martin Braybrook lost to Alex Tanner 4-13 10-13 4-13
Match No. 10
After last week's heavy defeat at Oasis, Cromer , this week, welcomed back both Matt Copeman and John Baker for their Norfolk SRA League Division Three match against top of the table Broadland IV. This gave the team a much more balanced look with these two at the top of the order which in turn enabled team captain Martin Sanville to drop down to the third string slot followed by John Chandler and Matthew Jordan at Nos 4 and 5.
Jordan is steadily adapting his game to competitive squash and coming to terms with "Point A Rally" scoring. After a shaky start in the first game he delivered what was arguably his best performance to date as he won the next three games to win his match 3-1 and give Cromer a winning start. In the fourth string match the veteran Chandler opened up a 2-0 lead against the visiting captain and looked to be heading for a comfortable victory before the Broadland player pegged the score back to 2-2. Chandler, however, is a determined and experienced campaigner and he recovered his form to take the decisive fifth game 13-7 to win his match 3-2 which left Cromer one match from victory.
Unfortunately for them however that victory didn't come. The captain Sanville played brilliantly against a very good young opponent but the points just went against him at vital times. After losing the first game he took the second but then lost both the third and fourth games by the narrowest of margins to go down to a 3-1 defeat. The closeness of the match was reflected in the scores as in a match of 105 rallies the total points score was just 54-51 in favour of the Broadland youngster.
Former club champion John Baker has been short of competitive play since the turn of the year and he was disappointed that he too lost his second string match 3-1 while Matt Copeman, playing at No.1 was up against a good player who has played in both Divisions One and Two and he became the third Cromer player to lose 3-1 leaving the final score 17-9 in favour of the visitors.
Technical Director, Barry Starling, who was happy to give up his place in the team, said afterwards: "Before the match started we would have settled for nine points especially after we were only able to pick up five on the Broadland courts earlier in the season. After winning the fourth and fifth string matches I did think we had a chance of getting a win in but Martin Sanville had no luck at all in his match and the Broadland team were just a little bit too strong at the top of the order."
Results:- Matt Copeman lost to Justin Miller 12-14 13-11 11-13 8-13 John Baker lost to Andy Ford 9-13 11-13 13-6 5-13 Martin Sanville lost to Oliver Gollop 12-14 13-10 12-14 14-16 John Chandler beat Richard Hall 17-15 13-7 4-13 11-13 13-7 Matthew Jordan beat Gary Pwley 3-13 13-9 13-11 13-9.
Match No. 9
After last week's Norfolk Closed championships Cromer returned to Norfolk SRA League action this week and had an evening they would prefer to forget after travelling into Norwich to take on a strong Oasis team in their Division Three fixture.
Numerous players were, for a variety of reasons, unable to play which meant that Technical Director Barry Starling was forced into making a rare appearance for the team and club stalwart Kim Payne was once again persuaded to come out of retirement. Matthew Jordan filled the No.4 slot, John Chandler, who reached the final of the Over 65 event in the Norfolk championships, was at No.3 while team captain Martin Sanville was, by necessity forced into playing the first string match.
Starling, who nowadays is more used to providing direction to other players rather than competing himself struggled in his fifth string match and he went down to a straight game defeat. Jordan, who is still relatively new to competitive squash was the pick of the Cromer players and with his match evenly balanced at 1-1 he did have a genuine chance of winning. He could easily have taken the third game which he eventually lost 13-15 and his opponent then went on to take the fourth to win 3-1.
Chandler's straight game defeat was not a reflection of how well he played. The first two games, both of which he lost 12-14 could easily have gone in his favour and if he had gone 2-0 up instead of 0-2 down he could well have gone on to win. As it was, tiredness took its toll in the third game, which he lost 7-13 which meant he lost 0-3.
Both Kim Payne and Martin Sanville played well in their matches against two very good and experienced players without ever really looking like winning a game and both went down to straight game defeats which left Cromer on the wrong end of a 20-1 scoreline.
A philosophical Starling said afterwards: "It was unbelievable how many players were unavailable and all had genuine reasons. I suppose we could have asked to postpone the match but that's not the Cromer way and all credit to those who did play. Both Matthew Jordan and JC could easily have taken games and, if they had, that would have made the scoreline look a lot better.
Results:- Martin Sanville lost to Richard Hatch 9-13 9-13 5-13 Kim Payne lost to Terry Mayes 5-13 8-13 7-13 John Chandler lost to John Milton 12-14 12-14 7-13 Matthew Jordan lost to Dave Horrex 6-13 13-10 13-15 9-13 Barry Starling lost to Keane Pye 5-13 3-13 5-13
Match No. 8
After a well deserved mid season break during which time they were put through what Technical Director Barry Starling called some interesting and innovative training routines Cromer returned to Norfolk SRA League action this week with a trip to Fakenham to take on the home club's second string in their Division Three fixture.
Starling was able to welcome back No.1 Matt Copeman into the team along with former club champion Stephen Watts at No.2 but with another former club champion John Baker unavailable Starling took the opportunity of rewarding Steve Booth for a fine performance in the recent Over 35 tournament, where he reached the semi-final, with the fifth string slot while team captain Martin Sanville and veteran John Chandler played at Nos 3 and 4.
Owing to a series of hip problems Booth had not represented the club for several seasons and had certainly never played under the new "Point A Rally" scoring system. Against Rob Pawley he found the first game, which seemed to last for ever, difficult but eventually won it 16-14 only to lose the next three to go down to a 3-1 defeat. Chandler, however, soon brought the scores level. He lost the opening game of his match against young Tom Horn 9-13 but his experience and controlled racket skills enabled him to dominate the next three games as he came out on top 3-1.
The key match turned out to be the third string one in which Martin Sanville was up against one of the seemingly inexhaustible supply of Fakenham youngsters, Leyton James. He lost the first two games both with a 12-14 scoreline to go 0-2 down but recovered brilliantly to take the next three games and win the match 3-2. Stephen Watts, however, was unable to capitalise on this going down 1-3 to the experienced Fakenham veteran Bruce Bushell. Watts had missed out on some of the training sessions and although he had his usual speed around the court he did struggle at times against a very good player.
With the match finely balanced everything depended upon the outcome of the first string match and Cromer's Matt Copeman clinched victory for his team as he beat Nick Fairbrother 3-1 to give Cromer the five bonus points and a 16-10 victory - a result which consolidates their fifth place position in the table.
Starling said afterwards:- "This was a very good victory against a team who are too good to be at the bottom of the table. Both Matt Copeman and John Chandler played well to win their matches but Martin Sanville was the real star as he came back from 0-2 down. I was pleased that we were able to get Steve Booth back on court as he needs game time and this will now give us another option for the rest of the season."
Results:- Matt Copeman beat Neil Fairbrother 13-11 9-13 13-9 13-4 Stephen Watts lost to Bruce Bushell 5-13 13-11 5-13 9-13 Martin Sanville beat Leyton James 12-14 12-14 13-7 13-8 13-8 John Chandler beat Tom Horn 9-13 13-9 13-8 13-9 Steve Booth lost to Rob Pawley 16-14 3-13 6-13 7-13
Match No. 7
For their last Norfolk SRA League Division Three match before their mid season Christmas break Cromer's Technical Director, Barry Starling was able to field an unchanged team as the team made the long journey south of Great Yarmouth to take on Potters II. Although due to work commitments, injury and holidays the team was again missing key players they did give a good account of themselves and were only narrowly beaten 16-8.
Veteran Malcolm Crane, who is the team's oldest player, is still working hard to regain his match fitness and after a hard fought first game which he could easily have won went down to a straight game defeat in the fifth string match. In contrast, fitness is not a problem for the club's tennis champion Alex Youngman. He seems to be a natural games player and he is steadily learning more about the technical aspects of the game. This week the improvement in his game was noticeable and he recorded a very good 3-1 victory at No.4 to keep the Cromer team in contention.
At No.3 John Chandler, who later in the week was to finish as runner-up in the club's annual veterans tournament also showed a welcome return to form. Point a Rally scoring seems to suit his style of play and although he lost the opening game of his match this was only a temporary set back as he went on to take the next three to come out on top 3-1 and give Cromer a real chance of victory.
Sadly for Cromer this was as good as it got. Team captain Martin Sanville had what he described as an "off-night" and was very disappointed with his own performance as he lost the second string match in straight games but the decisive match was at No.1 where young Alex Oliver, who last week turned in a tremendous performance to win his match 3-2, was up against the home team's captain.
At one game all he had chances to open up a 2-1 lead but just lost the third game 12-14 and then after comfortably taking the fourth game to once again draw level he lost the deciding fifth game by the narrowest of margins 11-13 which meant that he was beaten 3-2 and that Cromer lost the match 16-8.
Afterwards Starling said "This was a case of so near and yet so far. We were again three players light which obviously weakened the team but all credit to those who played and especially Alex Youngman and the evergreen John Chandler who both won. If Alex Oliver had managed to have won the fifth game of his match we would have won 14 -10 which would have been a much fairer reflection of the effort everybody put in. We will re-group now and do some light training routines before resuming our fixtures next month."
Results:- Alex Oliver lost to Darren Green 13-8 10-13 12-14 13-6 11-13 Martin Sanville lost to David Coe 4-13 6-13 4-13 John Chandler beat Graham Fackman 11-13 13-10 13-9 13-6 Alex Youngman beat Richard Copland 13-4 10-13 13-8 13-10 Malcolm Crane lost to Richard Soanes 13-15 4-13 6-13
Match No. 6
Twenty four hours before Cromer's scheduled Norfolk SRA League Division Three fixture at the Bob Carter Centre in Drayton captain Martin Sanville had a strong team ready to travel but then his plans were thrown into disarray as his No.1 player, Matt Copeman, was forced to withdraw after suffering a badly twisted ankle on the football field. Veteran Malcolm Crane gallantly stepped into the breach as a last minute replacement to play the fifth string match but everybody else in the team was forced to move up the playing order. This left Cromer on the back foot from the start and it was no great surprise that they returned home after going down to a 19-3 defeat.
Having recently been on holiday Crane had not played squash of any sort, let alone a competitive match, for almost a month and he was understandably always struggling as he was soundly beaten in straight games. Moving up the order to play the fourth string match club tennis champion, Alex Youngman, was up against an experienced player who actually beat the Cromer captain back in October, and although he hits the ball hard and moves around the court well he is still learning the technical aspects of what, for him, is basically a new sport and he, too, went down to a 3-0 defeat.
Playing at No.3 John Chandler, who was suffering from a heavy cold, played the home team's captain and after losing the first two games had chances to get himself back into the match in the third but eventually lost that game 15-13 to become the third player to lose in straight games. Martin Sanville, playing at No.2, found himself up against the home team's former No.1 and his match followed a similar pattern to Chandler's. He lost the first two games and then, in his own words could or should have won the third before losing it 14-12.
At this stage Cromer didn't have a point on the scorecard but luckily young Alex Oliver was in tremendous form. Playing a player who last season was playing in the Premier Division but who has now dropped down to Division Three he won the opening game of the first string match only to lose the next two to trail 1-2. Showing a great deal of maturity he won the fourth game to draw level and then took the decisive fifth game 13-10 to come out on top 3-2 which did at least give Cromer three points for their evening's work.
Afterwards Technical Director Barry Starling said: "It was a great pity that Matt Copeman was injured but with John Baker and Peter Arbuthnot both unavailable we had to go with what we had got. I could have played at No.5 but at the moment I don't think that would have made any difference to the final score. The one plus point was Alex Oliver's result and performance which was magnificent. We ought probably to have nicked at least a couple of games from the second and third string matches."
Results:- Alex Oliver beat Eddie Webber 13-10 6-13 9-13 13-9 13-10 Martin Sanville lost to Graham Sibley 10-13 7-13 12-14 John Chandler lost to Ian Pearson 9-13 10-13 13-15 Alex Youngman lost to Steve Cunningham 4-13 5-13 7-13 Malcolm Crane lost to Paul Parker 6-13 6-13 5-13
Match No. 5
After last week's disappointing result at Broadland, Cromer returned to winning ways this week with a good 17-7 victory against a young, fit and enthusiastic UEA II, a result which moved the team up into fourth place in Division Three of the Norfolk SRA Squash Leagues. Technical Director Barry Starling made two enforced changes with both the reigning veterans Champion, Matt Copeman and club handicap champion, Peter Arbuthnot unavailable. Former club champion John Baker, fresh from his recent success in the club's Over 35 tournament, filled the No.1 slot whilst at the bottom of the order there was another opportunity for the club's current tennis champion, Alex Youngman.
Team captain Martin Sanville and the team's oldest player, John Chandler were first on court and they had mixed results. Sanville, who was playing at No.2 was up against a very good, wristy student and after two closely contested games was well beaten in the third to go down to a straight game defeat while, on the adjoining court Chandler, playing at No.3, looked to be heading for defeat when he trailed 1-2. However, he has proved himself a determined and experienced campaigner and these qualities showed through as he drew level by taking the fourth game 13-11 and then went on to win the decisive fifth game 13-7 to come out on top 3-2.
Matt Jordan, playing at No.4, followed Chandler on court and although he lost the opening game he was always in control and came out on top 3-1 while John Baker was involved in a remarkable first string match on the No.1 court. He was soundly beaten in the first game, picking up just four points along the way but recovered to win the next two games both of which could have gone either way. In the fourth game however he completely dominated his young opponent and served straight through the game to take it 13-0 and win the match 3-1.
Youngman came straight off the tennis court to play the final fifth string match and in an interesting hard hitting encounter won in straight games to leave the final score 17-7 in favour of Cromer.
Starling said afterwards: "It was important that we bounced back after last week's defeat. The students were a good bunch of lads but at the end of the day we probably just had too much experience for them in the matches which mattered. John Chandler gave 49 years to his opponent but had enough skill and determination to counter-act this while Johnny Baker was awesome in the fourth game of his match. With point a rally scoring it is very unusual at our level for a player to win a game 13-0 but he did this and I think his poor opponent was a bit shell shocked. Our two younger players are getting good experience and I was pleased that they were both able to win."
Results:- John Baker beat Jamie Nesbit 4-13 13-11 13-10 13-0 Martin Sanville lost to Ash Sinha 13-15 12-14 4-13 John Chandler beat Thomas Greenfield 8-13 13-6 4-13 13-11 13-7 Matthew Jordan beat Alex Tanner 9-13 13-8 13-7 13-5 Alex Youngman beat Chas Kirby 13-10 13-7 13-8
Match No. 4
Cromer's Technical Director , Barry Starling, was disappointed but not disheartened this week after his Cromer team suffered what on paper at least appeared to be a heavy 20-5 defeat at the hands of Broadland IV in their Norfolk SRA League Division Three fixture played at Fleggburgh. He made two enforced changes to the team who last week beat the league leaders, Oasis, as with both Alex Oliver and former club champion John Baker unavailable the reigning club veterans champion Matt Copeman and club handicap champion, Peter Arbuthnot, came into the team to play the first and fourth string matches respectively.
Matthew Jordan again played the fifth string match against the home team's captain and although he lost the match 3-1 the result could easily have gone in his favour as he lost both the first and third games 14-12 before going on to narrowly lose the fourth game 13-10. Arbuthnot had spent five hours in the earlier part of the day driving around and back from London and tiredness and stiffness appeared to play a part in his defeat. He was well beaten in the first two games but looked like making a recovery only to lose the third game 14-12 as he went down to a straight game defeat.
In the third string match the team's oldest player, John Chandler had what he could only describe as an "off-night". The difficult court conditions did not suit his game and his young opponent was able to chase down all his drop shots and he too lost 3-0 without ever really mounting a serious challenge.
With only one point to their name from these three matches the Cromer team were hoping to gain something from the first and second string matches and, at No.2, team captain Martin Sanville who recovered from losing the first two games of his match looked to be heading for victory as he opened up a 10-4 lead in the decisive fifth game. However, at this stage, things started to go wrong and he lost the next eight points in succession which enabled his opponent to draw ahead at 12-10 and although he took the next two points to keep in contention at 12-12 it was the Broadland player who evntually won the game 14-12 to take the match 3-2.
The final first string match was another closely contested affair in which Cromer's Matt Copeman opened up a 2-1 lead. However, in a night when nothing went right for Cromer he just lost the fourth game 13-11 and his opponent went on to take the fifth game and win the match 3-2 leaving the Cromer team to reflect on what might have been.
Afterwards Starling said: "Although we lost 20-5 the match was much closer than that. With a little more experience Matt Jordan could easily have won his match and I am still not sure how Martin Sanville managed to lose the fifth game of his match. Added to this Matt Copeman could well have won his match 3-1. We had worked hard on how to close matches out so I think we will have to do a bit more work on this"
Results:- Matt Copeman lost to Justin Miller 8-13 13-9 13-10 11-13 9-13 Martin Sanville lost to Chris Ashman 8-13 11-13 13-11 13-6 12-14 John Chandler lost to Ollie Gollop 11-13 3-13 9-13 Peter Arbuthnot lost to Josh Hall 8-13 9-13 12-14 Matthew Jordan lost to Richard Hall 12-14 13-10 12-14 10-13
Match No. 3
Technical Director, Barry Starling was full of praise for his Cromer team this week as they won their Norfolk SRA Division Three fixture against the previously unbeaten and top of the table Oasis 18-9. He was able to select three of the four players who actually played in the previous week's victory over Fakenham II and Martin Sanville, John Chandler and Matthew Jordan were all able to drop down one place in the playing order as Alex Oliver was available to play at No.1 while former club champion John Baker filled the second string slot.
Jordan got the team off to a perfect start as he was too strong and too mobile for his fifth string opponent and he eased his way to a comfortable straight game victory. The remaining matches, however, were not so straightforward. Chandler, who is the team's oldest player, was involved in a titanic struggle on the adjoining court and in a match which went first one way and then the other he eventually came out on top 3-2, taking the decisive fifth game 13-6.
Last week Sanville was involved in a five game thriller which he eventually lost and this week his match again went down to the wire but with a better result. After losing the first and third games he trailed 1-2 but showed great determination to draw level by taking the fourth game 13-11 and then again to win the final fifth game by the same narrow scoreline. These three results meant that Cromer could not be beaten but the excitement was not over.
Baker still hits the ball cleaner and as accurately as any player in the club and he became the third player to give the large and appreciative crowd their money's worth as he became the third player to win 3-2. He too trailed 1-2 after narrowly losing the third game 12-14 but by then his opponent was visibly tiring and he had a much easier passsage in the fourth and fifth games as he wrapped up his victory. In the final first string match Oliver was up against a very experienced and capable player and although he won the first game it was apparent that he is still on a learning curve as he lost the next three games to go down to a 3-1 defeat.
Starling was delighted afterwards saying: "This was a fine all round performance. Matt Jordan was up against a big unit but never gave him a look in. We have done a lot of work in closing matches out and this certainly paid off. The two Johns, who had put themselves through a hard forty minute training session during the afternoon, were absolutely brilliant as was team captain Martin Sanville who led by example."
Results:- Alex Oliver lost to Terry Mayes 13-5 11-13 6-13 8-13 John Baker beat John Milton 9-13 13-11 12-14 13-7 13-6 Martin Sanville beat David Horrex 6-13 13-7 9-13 13-11 13-11 John Chandler beat Keane Pye 13-8 6-13 13-10 12-14 13-6 Matthew Jordan beat Richard Clamp 13-7 13-8 13-5
Match No. 2
Having had matches postponed in the last two weeks Cromer returned to Norfolk SRA Division Three League action this week with a home match against neighbours Fakenham II. These matches are always well contested sporting affairs and this week was no exception although the visitors were handicapped by having to field a below strength team and worse still, were not able to raise a fifth player. This did give Cromer's Technical Director, Barry Starling the opportunity to claim a walk-over in the fifth string match.
At No.4 Matthew Jordan, who recently won the plate event in the club's annual tournament, was up against the experienced veteran Rick Parry and he had to battle hard for two games in which the honours were even. However, Parry found that giving some forty years to his opponent was too much and this, coupled with his lack of recent match play enable Jordan to coast through the third and fourth games and come out on top 3-1. At No.3 Cromer's oldest player, John Chandler, always just had the edge over Fakenham's Tim Venes and although the Fakenham man could easily have won the third game Chandler evntually took it 14-12 to win in straight games and ensure Cromer would not be beaten.
Team captain Martin Sanville played the Fakenham stalwart and club coach Bruce Bushell in the second string match and will have been pleased to have opened up a 2-1 lead before Bushell eased his way through the fourth and fifth games to win 3-2 and then in the final first string match Matt Copeman was up against another of Bushell's seemingly inexhaustible supply of teenage proteges, Oli Bacon-Hilton, and lost 0-3 which meant that the final score was 16-7 in favour of Cromer.
Afterwards Starling said: - It was good to get a win under our belts but it was a pity that Fakenham only had four players and were also a bit below full strength in the middle of the order. However, full credit to them for fulfilling the fixture as I know a lot of teams would have asked for a postponement. It did at least give me a chance to claim a victory for myself."
Results:- Matt Copeman lost to Oli Bacon-Hilton 13-15 6-13 10-13 Martin Sanville lost to Bruce Bushell 13-7 11-13 13-10 7-13 6-13 John Chandler beat Tim Venes 13-10 13-8 14-12 Matthew Jordan beat Rick Parry 13-11 12-14 13-5 13-6 Barry Starling walk-over
Match No. 1
Cromer played their first match of the new season this week in Division Three of the Norfolk SRA Leagues and, despite being without the unavailable Matt Copeman, Steve Watts, Peter Arbuthnot and John Chandler they turned in a highly creditable performance against the Drayton based Bob Carter Centre before going down to a narrow 14-10 defeat.
With so many players unavailable Technical Director Barry Starling decided to give youth a chance and as well as having Alex Oliver in the first string slot he called up Matt Jordan to play at No.4 while the club's recently crowned tennis champion, Alex Youngman, came in for his first ever winter league match at No.5. Former club champion John Baker and team captain Martin Sanville filled the second and third string slots.
Sanville and Jordan took to the two courts simultaneously against two hugely experienced players and both went down to 3-1 defeats. Sanville lost the first two games of his match, forced his way back into contention by winning the third game 13-10 but then lost the fourth 7-13. Jordan started off promisingly enough, taking the opening game 13-9 but was well beaten in the next three which left Cromer very much on the back foot.
John Baker showed that he is still a class player and although he was pushed hard in the second game of his match he was never seriously in trouble against the visitors' captain as he eased his way to a straight game victory. Meanwhile on the adjoining court Alex Oliver was up against a determined and experienced player who he defeated 3-2 in the summer after coming back from being 0-2 down. This week's match followed a similar pattern with Oliver losing the first two games and then drawing level as he recovered from being 5-11 down in the fourth game to win it 15-13. Here, sadly, the similarity ended as the BCC player recovered well and took the decisive fifth game 13-6 to come out on top 3-2 and ensure his team would take the bonus points.
Youngman came straight off the tennis courts to play the final fifth string match and although he is understandably lacking in court skills his shots carried enough weight and power to enable him to beat his older, experienced opponent in straight games to show that he could well be an important team member for the rest of the season.
Starling said afterwards: "I am not too down hearted as ten points is a satisfactory return with a quartet of experienced players unavailable. It would have been easy for me to play in the fifth string slot but my legs are not what they were and I thought both Matt Jordan and Alex Youngman deserved their chance to play. Alex played exceptionally well to record his first victory in what was his first winter league match and Johnny Baker was awesome. It was a pity that Alex Oliver couldn't quite win the second game of his match since if he had we would have won 16-7"