Thrilling finale to the doubles

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Last week the Spalding and District League – sponsored by Vital Recruitment – held its annual competition for the Val Mackey Doubles trophy.

In this, entries are paired from the league’s ranking tables - top quarter with bottom, second with third.

The beauty of this event is the pairing of inexperienced players with both stronger and/or more experienced partners and frequently a little coaching is added to the evening’s play.

This year 24 members took part and new winners were guaranteed as neither of last year’s pair attended.

Two groups of six pairs played an all play, all best-of-three ends with the top two pairs going through to the semi-finals.

No one achieved five wins in either group, though both winners took four.

In Group A that was Richard Matthews and Hannah Gilbert while three pairs - Richard Hammond/Tom Coley, Joe Beadle/Dylan Taylor and Garry Wilkinson/Phil Knowles – tied on three.

On countback of results, between them, Beadle and Taylor defeated both rivals and so went through to face the B winners.

That was Keith Davey and James Coote, who scored four and two pairs, Allan Lewis/Andrew Hay and James Gibson/Henry Sharman, tied on three.

The latter won their round robin match and so they progressed to meet Matthews and Gilbert.

Davey and Coote took a close tie with Beadle and Taylor 4-11 12-10 11-9 to reach the final.

Gibson and Sharman progressed more comfortably in their match, winning 11-7, 11-8 against the Matthews/Gilbert pair.

The final was a match worthy of its status.

Played over five legs Davey and Coote took the first, lost the second and third but levelled in the fourth.

They then led 5-2 at the turn round in the fifth, only to have to come back from two match points down to level again.

However Gibson and Sharman held their nerve and won three of the next four points to emerge as winners 5-11 11-5 11-7 9-11 13-11.

Team secretaries are reminded that there are only two matches scheduled for this Wednesday – one match has also been moved forward already.

There is, therefore, room to move matches from January 6, when there is likely to be restricted space, or from anywhere in the second half of the season.