JUST past the halfway mark in the Wildmoor Spa Tennis League Stratford remain top of the Premier Division despite being held to a 2-2 draw for the second week running – this time by third placed Evesham.
This takes Stratford’s tally to 23 points while Evesham stay third on 20. Currently Stratford’s nearest rival is Studley A on 21 points, who overtook Evesham after they beat sister side and bottom of the table Studley B 4-0 to leave the latter team on only seven points.
Alcester go fourth with 19 points thanks to a 3-1 win over fifth placed Ardencote Manor (17). Near the foot of the table Henley (12) drew 2-2 with second bottom Littleton (9).
At least Stratford avoided a repeat of their opening day loss to Evesham with this draw, but unfortunately for Evesham they have drawn too many to date, leaving them three points off the leaders.
In this match at Evesham their pair of John Clarke and Chris Francis started well by beating Stratford’s Simon West and Will Morley-Cotterell 5-7, 6-4, 1-0 (10-6) after a third set championship tie-break.
However, they then lost heavily to Stratford’s Callum Bailey and Ben Keighley 0-6, 2-6. Evesham second pair Andy Crowther and Simon Wall lost to Bailey and Keighley 0-6, 2-6 but beat West and Morley-Cotterell 4-6, 6-3, 1-0 (10-8) in another third set tie-break.
Mixed fortunes for Studley teams
As expected, with Studley A challenging for the title while Studley B are propping up the Premier Division, the A team made short shrift of this 4-0 result.
Mark Willmore and Damian Hampton (Studley A) beat James Fitton and Chris McGregor (Studley B) 6-3, 6-4 and beat Dave Douglas and Ollie Smith (Studley B) 6-3, 7-6. Martyn Richards and Paul Farmer (Studley A) beat Douglas and Smith 6-3, 6-1 and beat Fitton and McGregor 6-4, 6-2.
Alcester regained superiority over Ardencote Manor both in the table and in this match by overcoming them 3-1, but only after a very tight match consisting of three out of four rubbers going to championship tie-break deciders.
Tim Kenneally and Alex Woodbridge (Alcester) defeated Christian Hardy and Richard Butler (Ardencote) 3-6, 6-3, 1-0 (10-6) and they then beat Ben Summers and John Brain (Ardencote) 6-3, 7-5.
Gaz Price and Stuart Beach (Alcester) defeated Summers and Brain 3-6, 6-1, 1-0 (11-9) and then squeezed out Hardy and Butler 3-6, 6-3, 1-0 (10-8).
Finally in the Premier Division, Littleton played host to Henley in their 2-2 draw. Andy Reynolds and Chris Elliott (Littleton) lost to Brett Mackay and Marcus Tate (Henley) 7-6, 3-6, 0-1 (4-10), and then lost 3-6, 0-6 to Max Retallack and Oli Didlick (Henley).
Richard Herborn and Craig Witheford (Littleton) defeated Retallack and Didlick 6-3, 3-6, 1-0 (10-7) and beat Mackay and Tate 7-6, 7-5.
Trio battle it out at the top
The fight for the Division One title seems to be between just three teams – Moreton-in-Marsh, Pershore and Claverdon.
Moreton with 24 points maintained their lead with a 3-1 win over bottom club Aston Cantlow (2). Joint second teams on 20 points each are Pershore and Claverdon after both drew 2-2 – Pershore at home to fourth placed Snitterfield (10) and Claverdon to sixth placed Inkberrow (9). The joint fourth placed team Whitnash (10) had no match.
In Division Two HDA Redditch A doubled their lead to four at the top, totalling 27 points, following another 4-0 victory, this one at home against fourth placed Stratford B (15 points).
Alcester B (23) overtook Ardencote Manor B (22) to go second thanks to a 3-1 away win at Ardencote. Inkberrow B (12) lay fifth after drawing 2-2 with sixth placed FISSC (11).
Chipping Campden A (11) are still in a relegation position despite their 4-0 beating of bottom side Shipston-on-Stour A (5).
Division Three remains as before with leaders Snitterfield B on 24 points, a point ahead of Claverdon B. Both sides won their matches with maximum 4-0 victories. Snitterfield beat third placed Studley C (18) and Claverdon beat bottom side Wildmoor Spa A (7).
Fourth placed Henley-in-Arden B (18) moved up to joint third after defeating second bottom Alcester C (9) 3-1. Chipping Campden B (14) overtook Ilmington (13) to climb into fifth place just above them following their defeat of Ilmington 3-1.
Claverdon reach the summit
Claverdon C on 24 points are the new leaders of Division Four as HDA Redditch B (23) are knocked off the top following a 3-1 loss to Inkberrow C (23) who, with this result, moved up to joint second with the Redditch side.
Meanwhile, Claverdon beat second bottom Littleton B (11) 4-0. In other results fourth placed Pershore B (18) claimed a 4-0 victory over bottom placed Chipping Campden C, who have only two points. Moreton-in-Marsh B (15) drew 2-2 with Bidford-on-Avon A (12).
Division Five leaders are still Warwick (28), but with HDA Redditch C (26) hot on their heels. Warwick enjoyed a 4-0 victory over second bottom Evesham B (8), while Redditch side HDA C only managed a 3-1 win over fifth placed Bidford B (14).
Third placed Wildmoor Spa B (15) beat sixth placed Inkberrow D (12 points) 3-1. Shipston B (7) drew 2-2 with joint third placed Moreton-in-Marsh C (15).