Once again Liberal A, champions for the last two years, lead the way at the mid-season break in the Braintree Table Tennis League.
But unlike last season, when they had opened up a 25-point gap at this stage, this time they are only just keeping their noses ahead of second-placed Rayne A.
The difference has not so much to do with their own performance, where they have as last year won every match, but is down to the more potent challenge from their rivals.
Last season the Rayne club’s four top-scoring players, Alan Burgess, Steve Pennell, Adam Buxton and Hector Rogers, were in three different teams. This year they have been brought together to have a stab at the title. They have lost twice, 6-4 to both Liberal A and Netts A, but have otherwise strung together an impressive set of results and should keep the title race alive for some matches to come.
Black Notley B, second last season, have opened up a lead in division two but Rayne E have been strengthened by the return to action of former first division player Dean Andrews and will be out to make up ground in the second part of the season.
Second place is all the teams in division three have left to fight for as Felsted RBL C continue to march off into the distance.
They have conceded just nine sets in ten matches, a record rendered even more remarkable when one remembers that five of those came in their first match when they came up against an inspired Peter Taylor, who won his three singles and shared in a doubles win. Since then it has been 9-1 and 10-0 all the way.