The Norfolk Open 2005
The problems of entering all three events in a major championship came home to haunt Ian Murphy at the Norfolk Open, held at the UEA Sportspark over the weekend. Seeded either one or two in all three disciplines, the countys hopes of Murphy becoming Norfolks "hat trick hero" started to disintegrate as early as the quarter-finals of the mens singles, when he needed three sets to dispose of Darren Kerins (Beds).
Meanwhile, at the other end of the draw, Murphys doubles partner and no.1 seed, James White, waltzed through his first two matches to reach the semi-finals, only to find that his opponent had scratched from the competition, in order to play in the Wimbledon Elite, which attracts higher ranking points, the next day, thus giving White a "walk over" into the final. (Something for the rule makers to look at in the future!) The final produced yet another long, hard fought three setter, with White eventually coming out on top 15-13, 8-15,15-11 to win his first Open title.
By this time, the doubles events were in full swing, with Murphy prominent in yet more three setters, partnering White in the mens doubles and Toni Sturgeon(Suffolk) in the mixed. But eventually the physical and mental strain took its toll, forcing an exhausted and struggling Murphy and White to retire from the mens doubles quarter-finals after two sets against Norfolks Justin Gerrard and Chris Patten, who then made it to the final only to be beaten by the unseeded Colin Dowe (Scotland) and Chris Wright (Hants).
After a time out on the massage table, it was sheer determination that drove Murphy and Sturgeon to the mixed doubles final, overcoming Jonathan Issacson and Joanne Hughes (Suffolk) 17-14 in the third set of the semis, to set up a final against White and Norfolks Katherine Cooper, who, having beaten Alex Wyett and Amber Lillingstone in their semi, were in no mood to give their opponents an easy match. In a thrilling encounter, Murphy and Sturgeon fought back from losing the first set 7-15 to win the mixed doubles crown 15-12 in the third, giving Murphy his tenth Open Satellite title.
The womens events were considerably less dramatic. In the singles, England International and no.1 seed, Rebecca Panteney(Gloucestershire) and Essex no.1, Caroline Westley showed their class by sailing into the final, which Panteney won 11-6,11-8. Losing semi-finalists were Lillingstone and Cooper. The doubles produced an excellent final between Jo Hughes and Toni Sturgeon and Kate Manning and Sandra Peaston (Surrey) , with Hughes and Sturgeon eventually coming out on top in yet another three setter 11-15,15-12,15-12, giving Sturgeon her second title of a very eventful and often very thrilling championship.
* The Over 40s county team got their season off to a good start with an excellent victory over Notts by 10 games to 2. Eric Plane and Tim Hudson-Church, Ann Jenkins and Linda Sawyer and Norma Bowen and Liz Cubitt won both their level doubles games, while Eddie Simmons and Mark Bennett shared, losing their second game 15-13 in the third set. Norfolk then picked up three of the four mixed doubles, leaving non-playing captain, Suzanne Benton, well satisfied with the performance of her team.
* In the Under 14s Moderates Tournament, the boys singles was won by James Cultien with Alex Syder runner up.The boys doubles was won by Alex Guiness and Daniel Skipper, with Gilbert Lamb and Syder in second place. Jessica Rutherford was the winner of the girls singles, with Ellie Heatrick runner up, while the doubles winners were Rutherford and Hannah Young with Heatrick and Victoria Borrmann in second place.