Thompson Insurance A continued their dominance in Division One of the Sunderland and District League with a fine 7-3 win over last season’s runner’s-up Durham CA A.
That opened up a commanding 16-point lead over second-placed St Chad’s, although the Saints have games in hand.
Andrew Wilkinson was once again in excellent form for Thompson, displaying impressive attacking play on both wings to leave his opponents with little opportunity to gain a foothold in their sets.
Wilkinson finished the night unbeaten, without dropping a single game and losing only 33 points.
With Darren McVitie joining Wilkinson to win the doubles, and also finishing the night unbeaten, Thompson were good value for their win.
Geoff Salter, Colin Hunt and John Williamson picked up a set apiece to ensure Durham were at least awarded a point for their efforts – the first point to be dropped by Thompson Insurance A this season.
Mortimer CA and North East Bed Centre have both made excellent starts to the season to lie third and fourth respectively.
At the other end of the table, Sacriston Aces have yet to win this season and the pattern continued following their 6-4 defeat to Mortimer.
Dave Cutler was man of the match for Mortimer after finishing the night unbeaten, and was well supported by Dave Bannon (2) and Dick Karczewski.
Duncan Fraser, Jon Mawson and Mark Walton showed good team spirit to win a set each for Sacriston, with Fraser and Mawson combining to win the doubles set.
In Division Three, St John A continued their strong bid for an instant promotion back to the second tier with an 8-2 victory over St John C.
Istvan Soos was man of the match after an impressive display which saw him finishunbeaten.
He was joined by Craig Burton (2) and Lynda Todd, with Burton and Soos claiming the doubles in straight sets.
David Aldridge and Derek Buller each won sets in reply, while Richie Patterson was particularly unlucky not to pick up a set after narrowly losing out in all of his matches, particularly in against Burton (12-10 in the fourth) and Lynda Todd (11-9 in the fifth).
Lanchester proved too strong for Sacriston Chargers, especially with the experienced John Cook playing and winning his sets convincingly.
The big surprise was the debut made by Chargers’ Anna Kiwitt, who shocked Joe Hume and took an immediate 2-0 lead before Hume restored parity.
This was how the game should be played and it was the power of Anna’s backhand drive that enabled her to claim eventual victory.
The most impressive performance of the night was from Lanchester’s Sam Hume, who was never overawed by his more experienced opponents and was only defeated by Kiwitt, but helped Cook to win the only doubles set and his team to gain an 8-2 win.
Sacriston Chargers also met West CA B. Mick Redfearn was man of the match after winning all of his matches without losing a set and also combined with Alan Whitwham to win the doubles.
With Tom Turner and Whitwham both fighting hard to finish the night unbeaten, West claimed a maximum points win for their 10-0 victory.
The West team were full of praise for Kiwitt, who played well throughout, pushing Whitwham all the way in her best performance.
Sacriston Desperadoes lost out to second-top East Boldon (10-0) and St John B (8-2).
Durham CA B are joint leaders of Division Two, alongside St Gabriel’s C and Redby CA A, following their impressive 7-3 win over St Gabriel’s B.
Only four points now separate the top six, so it promises to be a very close campaign in the promotion hunt.
Durham’s Brian Bateman finished the night unbeaten with victories over Dave Revell, Steve Young and Mark Burton before combining with Billy Upton to win the doubles.
With Upton registering a further two sets, losing narrowly to Revell 11-9 in the fourth, and Paul Wiggins enjoying a fine 3-1 win over Burton, Durham were guaranteed their win to keep their promotion hopes alive.
With the bottom two having games in hand over a number of teams, a number of twists and turns are sure to be made as the season unfolds.
Results: Division One: Sacriston Aces 4 Mortimer CA 6, Thompson Insurance A 7 Durham CA A 3
Division Two: Durham CA B 7 St Gabriel’s B 3
Division Three: East Boldon 10 Sacriston Desperadoes 0, Sacriston Chargers 2 Lanchester CC 8, Sacriston Chargers 0 West CA B 10, St John B 8 Sacriston Desperadoes 2, St John C 2 St John A 8.