Norfolks relagation battle steps up a pace

Norfolks battle to avoid relegation in the Victor Sports Inter-County Championships stepped up a gear with two home matches against high-flying Hertfordshire at Easton Sports Centre.

The first team, playing the Herts second string, normally do well in the opening singles but this time round they lost all four games, although three went to three sets. The countys no.1, Ian Murphy, was particularly annoyed to lose, being his first defeat in seventeen successive singles matches for the county.Things could only get better, and they did so when Murphy and Christian Nielsen and Katherine Cooper and Gillian Cox won both their level doubles games, but Justin Gerrard and Alex Wyett and Michelle Lewin and Lucy Curran lost both. leaving Gerrard and Wyett still looking for their first level doubles win of the season, although nine of their ten matches have gone to three sets.

With Herts four matches up and, seemingly destined to take all three points, Norfolk staged a late recovery by winning all three mixed doubles to finish the match with a 7-8 scoreline, to gain a "losing point", which might prove vital at the end of the season.

The second team were able to field a strong ladies line-up, who won a sufficient number of games to give them their first victory of the season against Herts IV by eight games to seven. Tanya Harrison and Amber Lillingstone won their singles matches, then Lillingstone teamed up with Sarah Williams to take both level doubles, with Harrison and Rachel Warnes winning one, Unfortuntely,the men had a bad day, winning only one level doubles through Jon Atmore and Paul Daynes. So, with the score standing at six all, the mixed doubles were vital, and Norfolk rose to the challenge to chalk up two good wins from Daynes and Warnes and Ruthen and Williams to take the match 8-7. Despite the victory, the team are still propping up the rest at the foot of Division 4B, with two matches remaining which, unfortunately, are not scheduled to take place until the end of March/beginning of April - a long period of inaction.

* The county Over 45s team scored an impressive 9-3 victory over Leicestershire. The men, David Guy, Kevin Stangoe, Mark Bennett and Eddie Simmons, won all four of their level doubles, whilst Norma Bowen, partnered by Jeannine Whiffen added two more. Sally Piff and Joy Eglen played well but without a victory to show for their efforts. But Norfolk showed their overall strength by winning three of the four mixed doubles.

* Are the Piffs from Sprowston the most devoted badminton family in the county?

On Sunday, dad Simon, drove the mini-bus to the juniors away matches, whilst mum, Sally, played for the countys Over 45s team in Leicestershire, eldest son, Andrew, was in the senior second team at Easton and youngest son, Chris,was on court for the Under 17s in Derbyshire - and all on the same day! Any other contenders?