First team end on a high!
Norfolk faced their last match of the season, a vital relegation battle against fellow strugglers Middlesex II, without four of their regular players, but emerged with a well deserved 9-6 victory, which sent their long time rivals down into Division 2 of the Inter County Championships. With both teams getting behind their players and other sports being played elsewhere in the hall adding to the noise, the atmosphere at the UEA Sportspark was electric as Norfolk fought to get a good start in the singles.
The players duly obliged, with Ian Murphy and Sharn Crane winning in straight sets and Alex Wyett, playing up from the second team, winning in three, in a game which lasted over an hour. Middlesex were always going to provide tough opposition in the mens doubles and the absence of Eric Plane and Tim Hudson-Church, playing for England in a veterans international against Scotland didnt help. With Grahame Wells still out with a foot injury, Matthew Hammond returned to the county scene after a six years absence to renew an old partnership with Murphy. They won one of their two games, but that was the mens only success of the afternoon, although Wyett and Justin Gerrard came close to victory against their opponents first pair.
However, the women played very well to put Norfolk ahead again, winning three of their four matches. Katherine Cooper bounced back from her narrow singles defeat to partner Denise Coleman to two straight set wins, while Crane and Linda Sawyer beat the visitors number 1 pair, picking up the vital game to ensure victory and Norfolks survival in Division 1 for a further year.
First up in the mixed were Wyett and Cooper to win in straight sets and this was followed by a narrow three set defeat for Gerrard and Crane. Murphy and Coleman, however, finished the match in grand style to give Norfolk a 9-6 victory, their biggest win in a really tough season, in which they managed to pick up points in all but two of their matches - proof, in itself, of their commitment and excellent team spirit.
* The county second team came up against promotion chasing Lincolnshire in their last match of the season, having already secured Division 3 survival for a further year, but crashed to an 11-4 defeat. Star of the match was Amber Lillingstone who won all four of her and the teams games, partnered by Tanya Harrison in the level doubles and Jon Atmore in the mixed.
With Wyett and Gerrard playing up in the first team, the younger team members, Katie Scotter, Michelle Lewin, Jonathan Cooper and Michael Philpot, joined by Jonathan Plunkett, who was making his senior debut after several years absence from county play, were always going to find it tough going against a strong Lincolnshire side. Team Captain, Wyett, praised the team for their consistency throughout the season and enthused over the number of youngsters making their presence felt in the side - a promising sign for next season.