Played at the Recreation Grounds, Ash may have lost last season’s No 1, Mark Le Roux, to the UK, but this has been offset with the addition of the promising Alex Snape who impressed with his 3-0 win over Peter Byrne at No 2.
John Hibbs, promoted to No 1 in Le Roux’s absence, was Ash Shopfitting’s only loser in going down to the talented Ian Furness who looked in good touch.
Elsewhere Graeme Tanguy looked refreshed after the lay-off in his 3-1 win over Bedell’s No 3, Shane Hollywood, while Allen Brown was made to struggle against Mark Taft at No 4.
Taft has been working on his technique over the summer months and looks a much improved player.Aaron Machin continued where he left off last season with a 3-1 win over the big-hearted Miles West, Bedell’s No 5.Last season’s runners-up, Stringmills, went top of Division I following a 5-0 thrashing against the promoted Harriers.
Harriers’ captain, Ernie Bird, was disappointed not to be able to field his strongest line-up and said: ‘We always knew it was going to be tough, but it didn’t help to have three of our players unavailable.
I’m confident that at full strength we will prove a handful for the rest of this session.’ Although losing 5-0, Harriers’ No 1 Sean Blake played well against Steve Law, taking the second game before losing in four sets.
Dave Le Cornu at No 2 also played well in his battle with Stringmills’ John Farley.
Mark Baudet was too good for Ernie Bird with Stringmills’ other points coming from walkovers at 4 and 5 to Harry Cadigan and Kate Cadigan.
In the other Division I encounter, All Sports edged Barclays Bank, 3-2.Rob Hickling was solid in beating Paul Frankland, All Sports’ No 1, in four sets.
Hugh Jones then beat Barclays No 2, Ian Coombes-Goodfellow, although Goodfellow took the first game before Jones settled into his rhythm, winning in four sets.
The best match of the evening was the battle at No 3 between All Sports’ Trevor Clutton and Barclays’ Rafe Garvin.
Garvin’s unihibited stroke play against Clutton’s unorthodox left-handed technique made this a fascinating battle, and although Clutton looked a little tentative after last season’s injury problems it was he who started the brighter, winning the first two games to 7 and 12.
Garvin fought back to level before taking the deciding game, 15-13.
Barclays’ advantage was short-lived, however, when Paul Biddulph beat No 4, Morgan Jubb, and Peter Blandin accounted for Barclays’ captain, Martyn Scriven.In Division II, Apsley Road Garage got their season off to a perfect score in beating Barclays Too 5-0.
Top seeds Chris Fuller for Apsley and Barclays’ Ronnie Jubb put on a tremendous match before Fuller won in four sets.
Apsley’s other winners were Paul Mottram, Guy Wildy, John Le Maistre and Chris McNabb against Bob Biddulph, Len Cathan, Mike Mulhearn and Andy Taylor, respectively.
The only other completed match was between Marsh, formerly Beau Couperon, and OVs.
In a close-run thing Dave Tupper’s OVs just edged a thrilling contest 3-2.The highlight was the epic five-set match at No 1 between OVs’ Nigel Johnson and Richard Bodie for Marsh.
Bodie proved a handful in his debut season last year and is continuing to impress.
The way he held his nerve in the fifth set tie-break to beat the experienced Johnson suggests he will win more matches than he loses.
Si Aziz also won a tough five-set match for Marsh against OVs’ No 2, Gordon Burgis.
However, the rest of the Marsh team could not back up their top two as Paul Mundy lost to Tupper, John Richardson lost to Jon Peters and Gary Boon lost to Jed Rothwell.