HUDDERSFIELD Third team enjoyed gaining revenge in the Yorkshire League.
In the first match of the county table tennis season, they defeated their own Fourth team 7-3 – making up for a surprise defeat to the same opposition towards the end of last season.
Huddersfield have four teams entered in the Veterans (Over 40 ) section this time, with the First team in the top division and the other three all in Division III.
The fixture list quickly brought together the Thirds and Fourths, with Scissett’s Brian Armitage lining up for the Thirds alongside Deighton’s Barry Drain and Mike Belk of Woodfield Park.
Belk’s Woodfield Park clubmate Keith Skarz led the fourth team, supported by Peter Walker, of Kingsmith, and Wilshaw’s Francis Cioffi.
It was Cioffi who opened the match with a comfortable win over Drain to give the Fourths an early lead.
The second match produced a titanic battle between Armitage and Skarz, with the former just edging a decisive fifth game 14-12 – but it really could have gone either way.
Walker’s game with Belk proved surprisingly one-sided in Walker’s favour, while Drain recovered from his earlier setback to defeat Skarz to bring the match score level at 2-2.
Belk rediscovered his form in partnering Drain to a doubles victory over Cioffi and Skarz. He then went on to defeat Cioffi 11-8, 11-8, 11-8.
A 4-2 lead became 5-2 to the Third team with Armitage winning a long, hard defensive slog over Walker 11-6, 11-9, 10-12, 11-4, but that scoreline does not begin to reflect how hard each point was fought, with rallies of 20 to 30 shots being the norm in a long match.
Skarz got the edge over clubmate Belk in a close four-game set – 11-5, 9-11, 11-9, 11-9.
Walker then returned to the table, barely recovered from his earlier epic, to face Drain.
This brought together two contrasting styles – Walker’s controlled defence against the aggression on both wings of Drain.
In the end, Drain just pipped Walker in an excellent match 11-9, 11-9, 6-11, 9-11, 12-10 – another game which could have gone either way.
With the match won, Armitage was able to complete a personal treble in defeating Cioffi in three straight games 11-0, 11-7, 11-4. The final match score of 7-3 was perhaps a little harsh on the Fourth team, but revenge was sweet for the Thirds!
The Second team, meanwhile, travelled to Ryedale and won 9-1. Ian Tweedale and Phil Schofield were both undefeated with Bob Sanderson dropping just one set in a convincing victory for the team, who were relegated at the end of last season and are looking to quickly bounce back.
The good wishes of everyone in the Huddersfield League go to Stuart Sykes, a stalwart of the Brooks club and latterly the Examiner table tennis correspondent, who has been taken seriously ill while on holiday.