County Restricted Round Up
Ian Murphy reinforced his position as the countys top player by retaining his triple crown of titles at the Norfolk Restricted Championships played at Easton College Sports Centre. There were very few surprises throughout the two days with all events going with seeding.
In the mens singles, Murphy beat 18 year old Jonathan Cooper 21-17, 21-12 in the first semi-final, with county legend, 48 year old Eric Plane,coming out on top 21-18,21-19 against Grahame Wells in the other semi. But the age difference was the telling factor in a hard fought final which Murphy won 21-11, 21-12 to take his first title. Michael Philpott was the plate winner, with Steve Sharp runner up.
Murphys second title came in the level doubles when he teamed up with Wells to beat Alex Wyett and Justin Gerrard in an exciting semi-final 17-21, 21-12, 21-18. In the other end of the draw, Plane and Tim Hudson-Church had a more comfortable passage into the final, beating Jon Atmore and Jon Plunkett 21-10, 21-10. In the final, Murphy and Wells rushed into an early lead, winning the first game 21-8, but the older pair fought back in the second, before eventually going down 21-18. The plate winners were James Ruthen and James Plunkett with Peter Rix and Martin Reeves runners up.
Murphys hat trick came in the mixed doubles, when he and Gillian Cox had a comfortable semi-final victory over Wells and Linda Sawyer 21-11, 21-9 and then beat Gerrard and Katherine Cooper 21-12, 21-17 in the final. Earlier, Gerrard and Cooper had had a close encounter with Wyett and Michelle Lewin, beating them 17-21, 21-19, 21-9 to reach the final. James Ruthen and Katie Price were the plate winners, with Andrew Piff and Stephanie Buttle runners up.
There was never any doubt about the outcome of the womens events, with Katherine Cooper and Gillian Cox in dominant form. In the singles, Cooper won all four of her matches to take the title, with Sarah Lewin in second place, winning three. Cooper then won her second title of the weekend, teaming up with Cox to beat Michelle and Sarah Lewin 21-11, 21-13 in the decisive match.
There was a good entry of younger players but, apart from Jonathan Cooper, they found it hard to make an impact against the more experienced members of the senior squad. However, their time will come and the selectors might well introduce a few new faces into the ICC squads for the comimg season.