The Oxford Cadet Table Tennis team travelled to the Campion School, Sydenham on 19th November to resume their Heart of England campaign, facing up to their two toughest matches of the season, against Rugby A and Leamington A. The captain, Jonah Stott, produced a particularly fine effort throughout the day, as he was carrying a lower back injury sustained while playing tennis.

Simon Price got the team off to a fine start, defeating Rugby no 1, Paul Lilley in typically dynamic style. Jonah started well against Anshul Satsangi, but was unable to keep up his top-spin attack, which is the mainstay of his game. Niall Harris then fought out a five-game epic with Niall Herbert, losing narrowly.

Simon was all at sea against Anshul’s tight pushing game, leaving Rugby 3-1 ahead. The doubles was crucial, but somehow Niall and Simon managed to blow a 2-0, 7-3 lead and lose it.

Both Jonah and Niall went on to defeat an erratic Paul Lilley, and Simon pulled off a splendid second win against Niall Herbert, but Anshul secured his maximum for Rugby to give them a 6-4 win.

The rest of the day was something of an anti-climax, as for Leamington A Lee Dorning was strangely out of sorts and only Timmy Cooper was able to mount any resistance, defeating both Niall and Jonah, while also partnering Lee to victory in the doubles.

The final match against Leamington B was a procession, with Leamington unable to muster a single game in their entire match.

Yet to play on the third and fourth Saturdays are Walsall, Coventry, Sutton Coldfield, Hamstead Birmingham and Evesham B. Of these Walsall are the only ones who look likely to mount a serious challenge, and Oxford’s aim will be to hang on the silver medal position, while giving an opportunity of competing to one or more other squad members.

Players’ singles records:

Simon Price  17/18

Niall Harris 14/18

Jonah Stott  12/15

Ethan Ball 2/3

Autumnal scene at Leamington: (l-r) Oxford Cadets Simon Price, Jonah Stott and Niall Harris with team manager, John Birkin.
Oxford Cadets at Sydenham (Leamington), Niall Harris, Jonah Stott and Simon Price.