A jubilant Marlborough junior table tennis team returned home from Nelson on Sunday with the Angell Shield - having defeated arch-rivals Nelson 23 matches to 17.
Playing at the Saxton Stadium in Nelson, Marlborough lifted the shield for just the second time in the last 25 years with five new members debuting for the annual representative match and Sam Flaherty leading the way with a brilliant performance.
The boys halved their section 10-10 in an excellent effort and the girls pulled Marlborough through with a solid 13-7 win, leaving Marlborough selector/coach Debbie Stratford delighted with her team's outstanding effort.
Sam Flaherty, Nathan Cross, Bonnie and Grace Aitchison got Marlborough off to a flyer with first-up wins to set the tone.
Flaherty led from the front winning all four singles and two doubles in what coach Stratford said was the best performance in more than 20 years by a Marlborough boy, as he displayed a fine all-round game.
Nathan Cross played steady, putting in an outstanding effort to come away with five wins.
He held match points against the top Nelson player before narrowly going down in five sets.
Alex Kennedy went on the attack to record a good win over Japanese exchange student Keita Miyauchi in five long sets, and matched all his opponents.
Josh Sim, playing at number four, also had a great debut for Marlborough, was competitive in all his matches and combined well with Kennedy.
The Marlborough girls were dominant with Bonnie and Grace Aitchison and Paula Harborne winning three singles each in clinical fashion.
Kiana Pham used her crisp forehand smash to good effect to register two wins and narrowly missed a third.
Harborne played a particularly good match against Nelson's number two player to come out with a straight sets victory.
Bonnie Aitchison went down to the top Nelson girl, Tayla Nesbitt, in four close sets.
There was little separating them in the end but Nesbitt was a little more consistent.
Grace Aitchison also won many points with some beautiful attacking forehands and took out three singles with relative ease.
Marlborough shared the doubles matches.
Coach Stratford was thrilled with her team's win.
"Any win against Nelson is a great win," she said.
- The Marlborough Express
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