With the new season starting this week Earls Colne-based Netts Phoenix will be looking to retain their title after becoming the first B team ever to win the First Division title in the Braintree Table Tennis League.
Their B-team status resulted from their late entry into the league with a restricted squad, but by week four they had added Tony Reardon and Maria Boulton to the nucleus of James Hicks and Graham Farmer and began to look like potential championsn with Kevin Grey’s addition the final cog in the wheel.
All are expected to return this season, which will make them the team to beat, although they can expect a challenge again from Liberal A.
Whether last year’s Netts A team, now renamed Argyle and ranked as the club’s second team, will challenge will depend largely on whether Paul Davison picks up his bat more often this season.
The relegation place was settled last season by an unexpected 9-1 win for Black Notley A over Sible Hedingham in the final match when 7-3 would have been enough to keep Hedingham up.
But in the end it turned out to be irrelevant as Notley A have pulled out of the league after losing players to university, with their A and B teams combining to enter one team.
That saved Hedingham from relegation and, with the expected return from injury of Graham Cannon, they will be in a stronger position to retain their status.