Disappointment for County Teams
Norfolk suffered a double disaster in their final two matches of the season with both teams losing heavily and being relegated to Divisions 2 & 5 of the Victor Sports Inter County Championships. The first team were confident of getting the one point necessary to avoid relegation, but crashed 11-4 to a strong Notts second string, with Ian Murphy saving the team from a more embarrassing defeat by winning his singles, one level doubles, partnered by Alex Wyett, and his mixed doubles with Michelle Lewin. Katherine Cooper won her singles, but after that it was downhill all the way. Cooper and Gillian Cox, Lewin and Helen Newstead and Justin Gerrard and Grahame Wells lost all six doubles, although three of the matches went to three sets. The remaining two mixed doubles went to Notts.
Reflecting on a disappointing season, Justin Gerrard felt that the team were unfortunate to be relegated, having won three of their eight fixtures, two of which were against Bucks II, who finished second in the league, behind Hertfordshire II.
The second team realized that they were virtually doomed to relegation before their match against fellow strugglers, Bedfordshire II, started, but, nevertheless were very disappointed that the effort they put in was not adequately reflected in the 12-3 scoreline. They started well enough with James Ruthen and Amber Lillingstone winning their singles, but the teams hopes were dashed in the level doubles when seven of the eight matches went to Beds. Jon Atmore and Paul Daynes chalked up Norfolks sole victory, but Christian Nielsen and Mike Philpot, suffering from a stomach bug, lost both their games. The ladies, Amber Lillingstone and Rachel Warnes and Katie Price and Sarah Lewin can count themseles unlucky, losing all four matches in three sets. With relegation a certainty, the team still put in a spirited performance in the mixed doubles with two of the matches going to three sets.
The reality of a very disappointing season is that, for some time now, the county squad has been lacking strength in depth and there needs to be a stronger focus on grass roots development, before any real improvement will be achieved. A new national strategy, "A Decade of Delivery" has recently been launched and the county is determined to take maximum advantage of that strategy as it unfolds.