Norfolk battling to stay up

The battle to avoid relegation to Division 2 of the Inter County Championship swung slightly in Norfolks favour at the weekend as they came face to face with fellow strugglers Middlesex II at Hounslow. For the fourth consecutive match the final score was 8-7, but, this time, Norfolk came out on top, gaining two valuable points to go three points ahead of their hosts, who have a game in hand. But that game is against high flying Bucks, who could seal their return to the elite of the Premiership if they win it next weekend.

Norfolks success was, once again, down to determination and good team work, with every player contributing to the victory. The singles were shared with Ian Murphy and Susan Pennington winning their games and Sharn Crane coming close in three sets.

The mens doubles were also halved with Murphy and Alex Wyett comfortably beating the home sides second pair but missing out in two long and tough sets against their first pair. Eric Plane and Tim Hudson-Church never got started in their first game, but displayed their usual "never say die" approach in a gruelling second game, coming out on top 17-16, 6-15, 17-15.

The match turned in Norfolks favour in the womens doubles when Pennington and Katherine Cooper won both their games, beating their opponents first pair 15-0 in the third, while Crane and Linda Sawyer won one of two very close games. This left the score at 7-5 going into the mixed, with Norfolk needing all three games to claim the maximum three points. But Middlesex fought back strongly, edging out Murphy and Pennington and Hudson-Church and Cooper, but leaving the deciding game in the experienced hands of Plane and Sawyer, who secured victory for the visitors with a three set win.

So, Norfolk now eagerly await the result of next weekends Middlesex - Bucks clash, which will determine what they will need to do in the final match of the season at home to - Middlesex!

* Norma Bowen, Norfolks lively development officer, displayed her considerable badminton skills when she bagged a brace of wins at the county moderates tournament. Teaming up with Mike Andrews, she won the mixed doubles event, beating Andrew Piff and Bev Sharman in the first semi-final and then Robin Cooper and Stephanie Buttle 21-6 in the final. Cooper and Buttle had earlier knocked out James Spinks and Linda Ross in the other semi. She then partnered Janis Baker to take the womens doubles title, beating Stephanie Buttle and Sarah Lewin in the determining game 21-10. Sandra Robinson and Jenny Longmore came third.

Ricky Dally and James Spinks won the mens doubles, beating Tom McClure and Simon Spaul 21-12 in the final. Robin Cooper and Andrew Piff and Daniel Barnard and Paul Andrews were the losing semi-finalists

In the plate event, Peter Zsoldos and William Wiseman won the mens doubles, with Krishna Kumar and Copper Ramjeet runners up. The mixed doubles was won by William Wiseman and Sarah Lewin with Krishna Kumar and Suzanne Benton in second place.