After recent successes in the National Leagues, Lillington Free Church entered day one of the National Cadet League at Wellingborough on Sunday with a view to the future, writes Phil John.
However, the three teams surprised their coaches with their achievements.
The A team finished second in Division One, five points adrift of leaders XLNT Draycott of Long Eaton whom they nonetheless defeated 4-2.
Their one blemish was a 4-2 loss to Bedford A but a draw against Corby Smash (3-3) and wins over Milton Keynes (5-1) and St Neots A (4-2) propelled them to the runners-up spot.
Josh Yarrow posted an impressive 90 per cent average with his win over England number 85 Sam Cooper the highlight. Eduardo Bolanos’ 70 per cent included an outstanding victory over Mark Balon who is ranked above him and reserve Tom Yarrow chipped in with two important victories.
Lillington B also took the runners-up spot and with it promotion in Division Two.
They finished level with leaders St Neots A but had to cede top spot by virtue of their narrow 4-2 loss to them.
They drew with Rugby 3-3 and defeated Draycott B 5-1, Bedford B 6-0 and WDHA Cadets (Wellingborough) 4-2 in which number one Nicholas Ho mustered two crucial wins to finish on 50 per cent.
Twelve-year-old Eleanor Fletcher’s 80 per cent included an astonishing 3-1 win over England’s ninth-ranked under-13 girl Anna Green and a win over number 44 girl Sasha Withers, while debutant Joe Shrimpton returned 70 per cent.
Lillington C included three debutants but they clinched pole position in Division 3A by an impressive 11 points.
Corby Smash B were dispatched 8-1, Westfield A of Wellingborough 9-0 and Bedford D 7-2.
Owain Jones, George Barnes and Erin Darwen all enjoyed eight wins from nine singles.
Rugby’s Division Two team finished fifth and will play in Division Three on day two.
As well as a stalemate with Lillington they also gained draws against Bedford B and WDHA. However, defeats against Draycott (5-1) and St Neots B (4-2) left them a point shy of safety.
William Chen returned an 82 per cent average.
Meanwhile, in the Leamington League, two big victories have propelled St George’s B to top spot in Division One.
St George’s A were whitewashed by Mark Jackson, Ryan Stockham and Ron Vose and then Jackson and Vose were joined by Laurence Sweeney to pocket all nine singles against Whitnash A. The villagers’ point came from the doubles partnership of Kevin Ariss and Mark Woolerton.
Colebridge Aces are fourth but look dangerous with games in hand and polished off Free Church C 10-0 courtesy of Ian Ferguson, Kate Hughes and Ben Willson.
However, their rush to the top was stymied by second-placed Free Church A who pipped them 6-4. Lee Dorning (3), Tom Brocklehurst (1) and Sam Weaving (1) took Church to five and Dorning and Weaving grabbed the doubles.