That all changed when the Stratford Table Tennis League resumed after an 18-month hiatus, reports Pierre Florence.
In an attempt to stimulate participation, the two-player “quick format” was adopted, where points are awarded for each set won, thus providing some reward for a short-lived loss.
As nine of the 12 teams are now based at the Meon Vale Recreation Center, four games have been played simultaneously, with many players making their debuts and several more transferring their allegiances during the forced break.
The closest encounter was by Snitterfield 11-9 victory over Henley where hosts captain John Price recorded two wins, both in four sets.
Phil Paine added another win in the same way but couldn’t get the upper hand over Nigel Payne.
The final double went the entire distance, with Payne and former Shottery mainstay Tim Fell giving Henley a two-set lead before eventually winning the contest in the decider.
Shottery will be back in the mix for honors after longtime regulars Gary Stewart and Stephen Foster gave them a 15-2 win over FISSC.
The Farmers were represented by Robert Bartkowski, who had previously enjoyed success with Stratford TTC, and Henry Lu whose previous league experience dates back a decade with Snitterfield.
Steve Proctor got an unanswered brace because The Romeos of Stratford have defeated their team mates Stratford Prosperos. Richard Bennett picked up another victory but, despite an early lead, lost to the impressive Archie Mathers.
Former Blazing Paddles captain Nello Mauri joined Proctor in doubles to ensure Romeos finished 13-3 victorious.
Alistair Francis paved the way for Stratford Othellos who defeated Eagles of Stratford 14-5.
He was undefeated, conceding just one end, with Simon King adding to their tally before narrowly missing 12-10 in the deciding match against Piotr Lewczuk.
Ashorne started their campaign with victory over Stratford Montagues like Steve Bolton and Andy Coonan have each recorded unmistakable successes.
Coonan seemed on track to maintain his strong start after securing an initial two-set lead over Michael Klein, only for his opponent to go the entire distance and win the final 11-9.
However, the villagers won the final double to come home with a favorable result of 11-6.
The last action of the week saw Stratford Capulet take the maximum points against Stratford Hamlets, with Debbie Barrow and Kannan Nithi each recording two wins, without losing a set, to join Shottery as the first pointers.