Following a 4-1 loss in their first fixture again Team Derby, Jets travelled to Suffolk, the on form team in the league, looking for their first match night victory of the season.
Kirby Ngan made her first appearance for the Jets when she took on the former women’s world number one, Tine Baun of Denmark, a late addition to the Saxons’ squad for the season.
Following a strong start from the pair, Baun began to gain control of the match and eventually edged Ngan out over three games but it wasn’t without its difficulties with the final game being decided on the last available point, 9-8.
Mixed doubles was up second, which saw Ben Lane and Emily Westwood battle it out at the Suffolk Corn Exchange with Sean Vendy and Fee Teng Liew. Lane and Westwood took the first game with little protest from the Saxons. The second, however, was a much more tightly fought affair which was eventually won by Vendy and Liew to level the match and set up what everyone expected to be a fierce battle. It wasn’t to be however, as Lane and Westwood took the third with ease and following a battle in the final game, the Jets pair took their team’s first match point of the night.
With the teams both level on 1-1 for the night, attentions turned to the Men’s singles where a late change for Jets saw Alex Lane (the winner of the Jets only match point last time out) withdraw through injury to see reserve David Jones take his place against Joel Douse. Despite coming in as a replacement, Jones defeated Douse during a tense third match taking the spoils in a 5-3 tie break. A sensational finish to the match and one that saw Jets hold their first lead in the league this season.
Jets were hoping to secure the match night in the fourth game of the night which saw Jess Hopton and Mizuki Fujii take on Sarah Walker and Fee Teng Liew, who replaced Baun after she pulled out with an injury picked up in the women’s singles. In a match that saw the lead ebb and flow between the two pairs, it was Saxons who won out eventually to level the match night 2-2, but not without a fight. Hopton and Fujii almost caused a real upset forcing all but one of the four games down to a 9-8 finish.
With everything still to play for heading into the final match, it fell to captain Chris Coles and his partner Richard Eidestedt to fight over the last point on offer. Coles and Eidestedt looked to be on the ropes when Ellis and Vendy held a 2-0 lead going into the third game. A magnificent fightback was on the cards and, the prize on offer, should the Jets pairing pull it off, was far greater than the three league points.
A massive third game saw the momentum swing in the Jets favour after winning 3-9 and then taking the fourth down to the wire beating Saxons 8-9. The final game tie break was a more one-sided affair, which saw the home crowd come alive to get behind their team and cheer them onto a 3-0 win. Suffolk therefore took the match night 3-2 overall.
Head coach Bex Pantaney told bristol-sport.co.uk: “I’m really proud of the squad”.
“We fought so hard tonight and in some very difficult circumstances. It is a long way to travel and to take the match night to the final game like that against the leagues’ form team, we should all be very proud.
“It’s been a massive improvement from our last time out and it was great to see David Jones swap in for Alex [Lane] at the last minute and take an emphatic victory.
“The home fans were the difference for me tonight. It was their support that helped Saxons over the line and we are all really looking forward to the new year and our first home game of the season after that. I know what a proud sporting city Bristol is and I am sure out fans will bring out the absolute best in the squad.”
Tickets for the first home match night of the season on Monday, January 9 are available now online at bristol-sport.co.uk and on the phone by calling 0117 963 0600.