12:00PM, Sunday 17 April 2022
Cippenham's senior British League side held their nerve across the final weekend of the season to claim a thoroughly deserved runners-up medal this weekend.
The first team came into the weekend second in the Senior British League National Division B4 and managed to maintain that spot with a series of impressive displays.
This season has been a personal triumph for Cippenham's number two, Robert Hansell, who won 23 of his 26 matches, a record only eclipsed by Ormeau's Zak Earley who went through the campaign unbeaten.
Unfortunately for the neutral, as Earley was his side's second seed, they didn't meet each other during the season as it would have been an interesting contest.
Hansell's three defeats all came in the first weekend of the season back in September, a time when all the teams and players were finding their way after 18 months of inactivity brought about by the COVID pandemic.
He then embarked on an 18-game unbeaten run and was named player of the match in each of Cippenham's final eight matches despite not all the results going his side's way.
The two top sides played off against each other in the weekend's opening match, with Belfast-based Ormeau 2nds - the division's outstanding team - winning 6-3. Hansell, of course, won both of his matches against Thomas Earley and Daryl Strong, while Cippenham captain Martin Adams defeated Thomas Earley. Martin Gray was also particularly unfortunate not to get something from his matches, losing both 11-9 in the fifth game - threatening Zak Earley's unbeaten record in the process.
Cippenham returned to winning ways on Saturday afternoon against Somerset Sabres, beating the west country side 7-2, with Hansell and Gray winning both of their matches.
Adams saw off a determined challenge from Sabres’ number one Bertie Kelly 12-10 in the fifth, and Steve Munson wrapped up victory with a 3-1 victory over David Hadley. A disappointing 6-3 loss to Haywards Heath followed on Sunday morning, with their opponents going on to win all four of their weekend matches.
Hansell retained his unbroken run of victories against Amila Thilakarathna and Keigo Burnham but only Munson managed to add to that with a last gasp win over Marc Burman. Cippenham lost four sets in the deciding game and that made all the difference in some close contests.
Urban 2nds were then unable to field a side on Sunday afternoon providing Cippenham with a walkover to complete the season.
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