AS Jaguars fielded a doubles pairing with an age difference of 71 YEARS as Ballymena table tennis legend Jimmy O’Hara teamed up with new sensation Vladislav Chucklav to help Jaguars inflict a first defeat of the season on Coleraine Foxes.
AS Lions 6, Ballyclare Methodist C 4: AS Lions could only keep their title aspirations alive with a win against bottom club Ballyclare Methodist C.
The match started well for the home side as Maurice Johnston defeated hard hitting Byron Nelson in straight sets 11-9, 11-9 and 11-8. Chris West squared the match with a straight sets win over AS Lions’ captain Ciaron Nelson.
Pawel Sulkowski, still undefeated in the league in two years was pushed to four sets by the talented Ballyclare teenager Stuart Heron.
Another teenager Chris West came out tops in five sets against Maurice Johnston to level the match at 2 games all.
Ciaron Nelson played excellent attacking table tennis to come from a set down to see off the challenge of Stuart Heron in four sets.
Pawel extended the lead to 4-2 with a straight sets win over Graham but Ballyclare came storming back with Stuart Heron defeating Johnston and Graham defeating Nelson.At four games apiece Sulkowski recorded his third singles win and then teamed up with Nelson to take the doubles and the match 6-4. MOM - Pawel Sulkowski (AS Lions)
Coleraine Foxes 2, AS Jaguars 8: AS Jaguars went to Coleraine without captain Mark Kelly but had an excellent replacement in the form of veteran player Robin McClelland who is on the comeback trail.
The match started well for Jaguars as Norman McBride defeated Coleraine number one Anselm Brankin comfortably in three sets after a tight first set.
The second singles matched up Brian Bonnar and the youthful Vladislav Chucklav. Chucklav took the first two sets but Bonnar took the next two to set up a deciding set. Both players went for their shots but Chucklav held his nerve to win the set 14-12 and extend the visitor’s lead.
Robin McClelland made it three nil with a straight sets demolition of James Dillon 11-3, 11-5 and 11-9. Brian Bonnar lost the first set against Jimmy O’Hara but took the next two sets to lead 2-1. However a rejuvenated O’Hara used his years of table tennis guile to nick the last two sets both 11-9 to make it 4-0 to Jaguars.
The fifth singles was another corker with Brankin and Chucklav hitting fierce drives at each other. This time a relieved Brankin prevailed 18-16 in the fourth set to record the home side’s first success.
It threatened to be the start of a recovery as Dillon upped his game to lead McBride by a set and then by two sets to one. But McBride is nothing but determined and somehow clawed his way back into the game concentrating on attacking Dillon’s forehand side taking the fourth set 11-9 and the decider 11-7.
The seventh singles saw Brankin win his second singles of the night but only after coming from a set down to beat McClelland in four rousing sets. Dillon and O’Hara crossed swords with the score 5-2 in the AS Jaguars favour and after sharing the first two sets O’Hara reeled off sets three and four 11-7 and 11-7 to inflict the first league defeat on Coleraine.
McBride recovered from a set down to defeat Bonnar in four sets to make it 7-2 to the visitors after the singles.
With only the doubles left and the match already won O’Hara and Chucklav formed a new partnership to play the formidable Brankin/Bonnar combine. It was a match that lived up to expectations with O’Hara and Chucklav recovering from two sets to one down to win the game in the fifth set. MOM - Jimmy O’Hara (AS Jaguars)
Osmond B 4, AS Murrays 6: Murrays captain Kenneth Johnston got the visitors off to a flier with an excellent all round display to see off the attacking Thomas McCann in four sets.
Andy Glover, back to the form he displayed some 20 years ago when playing for the legendary Tully club that won numerous titles in the eighties and nineties, defeated the Osmond captain Paul McGuiggan in four sets.
A clash between the much improved Aaron Douglas and Norman Bowman went to five sets with home advantage helping Douglas to an 11-7 win in the deciding set. Glover put pay to any thought of a comeback as he put on a master class of defensive artistry to defeat McCann in five sets.
Paul McGuiggan notched up the home side’s first victory with a fine win over Norman Bowman and Douglas looked like he might start the revival when he took the first set from Johnston. But Johnston has a reputation of dogged determination and this he displayed in abundance to take the match in four sets.
McCann beat Bowman in four sets before Johnston ensured the visitors had at least a draw by defeating McGuiggan in four sets. Glover defeated Douglas in straight sets to earn the victory and so rekindle their faint title aspirations. MOM - Andy Glover (AS Murrays).
Knockagh C 5, AS Dynamo 5: The AS Dynamo team travelled to Knockagh C with only two players as work commitments and school exams had made it impossible to field a full strength team.
The Knockagh team are 7 points above them in the league so the task for Dynamo’s David Witherspoon and Steven Balmer was nigh impossible.
With three games already forfeited, Knockagh went 4-0 ahead with Scott Harrington defeating David Witherspoon 11-3, 11-7 and 13-11.
Steven Balmer won the first game for the visitors when he defeated Keith Mooney in straight sets with some excellent attacking shots. Balmer was straight back on the table against Knockagh new boy Darren Jones and in a real tight game of hit and counter hit Balmer emerged victorious 11-9 in the fifth and deciding set. Witherspoon fought hard against Mooney but the Knockagh lad managed to get the better of him after five close sets.
Witherspoon had another tight match against Knockagh C captain Michael Maguire this time winning in three extremely close straight sets 17-15, 15-13 and 12-10.At 5-3 the AS Dynamo team still had a slight chance of salvaging a draw and thereby wrecking any chance Knockagh had of winning Division 3. Scott Harrington however led Balmer by 2 sets to 1 set in the final singles and recorded a rare 11-0 score. But Balmer recovered to take the fourth set 11-9 and held his nerve in the fifth set to win it 11-7.
All depended on the doubles and Witherspoon and Balmer have a great understanding in this format and it was no surprise that they comfortably defeated Harrington and Mooney 11-4, 11-4 and 11-6. mom - Steven Balmer (AS Dynamo).
Other result: Coleraine Ferrets 7, AS Rockets 3.
Results: AS Queso 1, AS Brocklamont 9; AS Hazards 1, Osmond D 9.