Lillington Free Church boys in top Form to claim British title

Lillington receive the Division 3B trophy from the chair of Table Tennis England Sandra Deaton. Picture submitted
Lillington receive the Division 3B trophy from the chair of Table Tennis England Sandra Deaton. Picture submitted

Lillington Free Church’s boys won Division 3B by the narrowest of margins after a superb victory over Formby in their final Junior British League match of the campaign.

The triumvirate of Ricardo Bolanos, Jack Green and Nikit Sajiv went into the second weekend of action at the Derby Arena in second place, two points adrift of leaders Formby and three ahead of third-placed Ormesby, both of whom they would meet on the second day.

However, to have any chance of the title they first had to overcome Pompey, Plymouth and Wood Green on the Saturday.

Pompey were only able to field two players so immediately conceded two points and wins for Bolanos and Green over Thomas Poynter and Yaj Vashee, respectively, earned Free Church a 4-2 win.

With the potential for things to be very tight at the top, Lillington knew they would have to be ruthless against rock-bottom Plymouth and Sajiv claimed his first successes of the day as all three recorded two wins.

In the final match of the day, Green found himself in all sorts of trouble against Wood Green’s Ben McDonald registering just three points on his way to losing the opening two games. A switch in tactics then paid dividends as he recovered to win 3-2.

McDonald recorded a straight-games win over Bolanos to get Wood Green on the board but two victories for Sajiv, one for Bolanos and another comeback success for Green ensured Free Church won 5-1 and went into the final day knowing two victories would see them crowned champions.

Ormesby had drawn with Formby on the opening day and got off to a great start against Free Church, racing into a 2-0 lead.

Sajiv maintained his excellent form by holding off a resurgent Chris Edwards in a decider but a defeat for Bolanos left Lillington struggling to avoid defeat.

Sajiv returned to the table to see off Ben Savage 3-1 before Green showed outstanding composure to beat Chris Edwards 3-2 and salvage a draw for Lillington, ending Ormesby’s title hopes in the process.

Going into the final match, Lillington knew a victory over Formby would leave them level on points and having to rely on countback.

Bolanos, who had been suffering with illness over the weekend, dug deep to beat Yameen Al-Dahari 3-2 and the number six-ranked cadet in the country, Rhys Davies.

Davies had beaten Green 3-1, while Sajiv had blitzed Joshua Parker to put Lillington 3-1 ahead and although Sajiv could not quite get over the line against Al-Dahari, losing the deciding game, Green completed a 3-0 demolition of Parker.

It left the two teams tied at the top of the table, with Lillington’s superior record of games won seeing them clinch the trophy.