With week six of nine now complete in Francos Spring Tennis League clear favourites for both the Monday and Wednesday group top qualifying spots are emerging.
Week 6 is likely to turn out to have been the pivotal point when the two teams leading the chase for the Monday semi-final spots secured the decisive victories needed to put clear daylight between themselves and their opponents. Second placed Silverhill Ducks managed a clear cut 53-43 win over bottom of the table Crème Brulees. Two games down after the first three mixed matches it was an important 10-2 win for Duck’s captain Michelle McTeague and Andrew “Ankles” Jackson that sealed the deal for the Ducks. Despite a bad fall Andrew recovered remarkably quickly to help the Ducks to a 6 game half way lead. Crème Brulees Clive Funston and sub David Casey did close the gap to two games with a fighting 8-4 win over sub JR Dundas and Paul Lendrum but mighty ducks, Martina Boyd and Leonie Maguire made sure of the win with a strong 9-3 win on court two.
The night’s second match saw a dominant display from Yvonne Masterson’s table topping Francos Specials winning their match 59-37 over Seamus O’Connell’s Fine Wines. Indeed only a 6-6 win draw from Seamus and partner Reggie Ferguson prevented a clean sweep of all 8 matches for the Specials with each of the other three mixed matches all going decisively 8-4 in favour of the Specials. Leading 31-17 at the half way stage there was no let up by Yvonnes charges although the Fine Wines did get closer in a couple of the doubles, going down narrowly 7-5 on court two and court four. With 7 of the 8 Specials contributing 14 games it was left to number two Ollie McShea to top the scoring charts with a superb 16 game haul on the night leaving Francos Specials 24 games ahead in the Monday race and looking all over group winners.
Up until this week it was much more difficult to call the outcome of the Wednesday group with three teams still genuinely in the running. However the combination of a blistering display from group leaders Chilli Monks, who heavily beat third placed Private Diners, and a tight 2 game win for second placed Pizza Slicers has cyrstallised positions. Indeed John Griffin’s Private Diners chances now rest almost entirely on next week’s result against the Pizza Slicers. Playing in the nights second match the Private Diners started well with John and sub Lisa Greaves drawing 6-6 with Dominic Burns and Jenny Humphreys as Lisa and Jenny traded winners from all angles. Diners Ruben Permaul and Ruth Armstrong then showed too much craft for Monks Veronica Bogue and sub Jason Burns putting the Diners ahead by four. Unfortunately that was the first and last win for the Private Diners as the Chilli Monks won all six remaining matches by a combined 46-26 score giving the Monks a resounding 56-40 win. This included a 7-5 win on court one for that hat rare father/son partnership of Dominick and Jason Burns. In contrast, it was a case of son beating father on court three as Stuart Miller and John O’Callaghan overcame a slow start to come from behind and beat Keith Miller and Mark Cousins with Stuart in particular dominant and decisive at the net.
The earlier match had seen Eilis Bogue’s Pizza Slicers squeeze out a tight two game win over Innes Redmond’s Early Birds. Still searching for their first win of the league, the Early Birds made a strong start in the mixed winning the top match 7-5 as Innes and Kate McManus finally got reward for their efforts in a terrific match against Hugh Maguire and Eilis. The early Birds seemed to have upped their game as they won the battle on court 2 7-5 and tied the remaining two mixed to hold an encouraging four game lead at the half way mark. However the arrival of the TV camera’s seemed to distract certain of the Early Birds as the Pizza Slicers came fighting back an two 8-4 wins on courts three and four sealed a narrow 49-47 win for the Pizza Slicers to keep the Slicers in control of that all-important second qualifying spot.
Standings after Week 6
Monday: 320 Francos Specials; 296 Silverhill Ducks; 272 Fine Wines; 264 Crème Brulees
Wednesday: 311 Chilli Monks; 296 Pizza Slicers; 281 Private Diners; 264 Early Birds