County Badminton Report

Division 1B of the Inter-County Regional Championships is living up to all its pre-season predictions of being the hardest to win and, coming up to the half way stage, the race to reach the Premiership play-offs is wide open, with Norfolk improving its chances with an 8-7 away victory over the Hertfordshire second string.

The match got off to a tough start for the visitors with a solitary win in the opening singles matches coming from Louise Culyer who played very well to maintain her recent run of good form. Julie Pike, Ian Murphy and Michael Philpott showed plenty of character but were always up against it in three hard fought matches. Moving on to the level doubles, there were two comfortable victories for Pike and Culyer and Katherine Cooper and Toni Sturgeon, against Herts second pairing, but they found it difficult to match the ability and strength of two former international players in the other two matches, although Cooper and Sturgeon were just pipped at the post 24-22 in their second set.

After a somewhat unconvincing start to their season, Murphy and Justin Gerrard are now finding some good form and won both their level doubles, but Philpott and Paul Daynes were edged out in theirs, which left Norfok 5-7 down going into the mixed doubles and facing a mountain to climb. But all three pairs,Murphy and Cooper, Gerrard and Pike and Philpott and Culyer won their matches to give Norfolk a superb 8-7 victory, much to the surprise and frustration of the Herts manager. It will be difficult but essential to keep the momentum going, with their next match not scheduled until the end of January - against Middlesex, one of their main rivals.