Stratford 1 (3) vs Cleaver (2)
With four matches remaining for the winter season, Stratford entertained Cleaver who fielded a strong squad to try to pick up much needed points as they battle against relegation.
George Owen opened the tie at fifth string. Having improved throughout the season, Owen proved too good for his opponent and won with ease in straight games.
Third string, Simon Kemp, found himself embroiled in yet another long and tiresome tussle. With the match tied at 2-2, the cheering home support encouraged Kemp to dig in and pull away at the end of the fifth to win the deciding game, 11-9, and win 3-2.
At second string, Simon Johns played an opponent who had beaten him last season. Hoping for revenge, Johns made an effort to disrupt his opponent’s fast style of play. Although all games went to the wire, unfortunately for the Stratford player, his opponent proved too strong with Johns eventually losing 3-0.
Freddie Milles, at fourth string, took on an opponent he had successfully beaten the previous season. Having sustained numerous injuries throughout the season, Milles showed strong signs that he was returning to form with his continual retrieval methods putting pressure on his opponent. However, the Cleaver number four possessed great shot making skills and managed to take the match to a fifth game decider. Thankfully for Stratford, Milles managed to pull away in the fifth game with great resolve and perseverance to secure both a personal and a team victory.
With the match won, Stratford’s top seed, Richard Rosenthal, took to the court. Despite being absent from Stratford’s team line up for the past nine weeks due to a knee injury, Rosenthal played a competitive match against one of the county’s top juniors. With both the court and ball being very warm, the lengthy rallies began to take their toll on Rosenthal who lost the opening two games. Despite a brief resurgence in the third, Rosenthal narrowly lost the fourth game to go down 3-1.
A 3-2 win over an extremely strong travelling team was a great result for Stratford who are now legitimate promotion contenders in the closing stages of the season.
Next up for Stratford is an away tie against Sutton Coldfield, who currently sit at the bottom of the league table.