Norfolk Restricted 2008
For the fourth year running Ian Murphy took a hat trick of titles in the Ashaway sponsored Norfolk Restricted Championships.
The defence of his titles started on Saturday with the Mens Singles. A strong entry meant there were some highly competitive games in the early rounds. The matches went with seeding resulting in semi-finals between Murphy, and the previous title holder Eric Plane, which Murphy won. The other semi-final was between Jonny Cooper & last years runner up Grahame Wells, which Cooper won to set up a close and enthralling final. Cooper took the early initative winning the first set 22-20, but Murphy was not to give up his title easily and used all his experience to fight back and clinch his seventh successive singles title by taking the next two sets 21-14, 21-14.
With only a few entries, the Ladies Singles was played on a round robin basis. Even so it was a closely contested group, which went to the final round of games to set up a championship decided between Toni Sturgeon & Helen Newstead, which Sturgeon just clinched 21-19, 21-17 to take her first Norfolk Restricted title following her move across the border from Suffolk.
The players returned to Easton College early on Sunday morning for the doubles events. The strength of the mixed doubles partnerships made for some fiercely contested games in the early rounds, leading to two tight semi-finals which were won by Murphy & Katherine Cooper, and the veteran pair of Tim Hudson-Church & Ann Jenkins. The final was never really in doubt, with Murphy & Cooper winning 21-8, 21-9.
Murphy completed his treble of titles by winning the Mens Doubles, teaming up with Grahame Wells, to beat the England international veteran pair of Hudson-Church & Plane.
The Ladies Doubles was a very close contest. Played in two groups, the first group was won by Katherine Cooper & Gillian Cox who narrowly beat Helen Newstead & Tanya Harrison. The other group was won by Amber Lillingstone & Michelle Lewin, from Toni Sturgeon & Lucy Curran. The final was arguably the most exciting of the three doubles finals. Lillingstone & Lewin took the first set, 21-15, but Cooper & Cox levelled the contest taking the second set 21-15. A tense third set was even throughout, but Cooper & Cox took the last few points to win 21-15.
It was pleasing to see a few of the county juniors prepared to challenge the senior players, would should stand them in good stead for the future.
(in the absence of Malcolm Lovatt)