Mixed fortunes for County Teams

The county first and second teams experienced mixed fortunes in the latest round of the Victor Sports Inter County Regional Championships. The first team travelled to Hounslow to play the high flying Middlesex second string and came away with a well deserved 10-5 victory, reversing their 8-7 home defeat earlier in the season. That win saw them leap-frog their rivals into top spot in Division 1 with just two matches to play, and a Premiership play-off spot a real possibility at the season's end.

The team were at full strength and feeling very positive after several excellent performances at the Cambridge Open the day before. The singles matches were shared two all, with Ian Murphy winning in two straight sets and Katherine Cooper, returning to a singles court for the first time after a six months absence, pulling off a creditable three set victory. Michael Philpott and Julie Pike battled hard but missed out in their singles.

In the level doubles, Murphy and Justin Gerrard hit top form, comfortably winning both their games and all four ladies doubles also went to the visitors with strong performances from Louise Culyer and Pike and Toni Sturgeon and Cooper. Philpott and Paul Daynes  again battled hard, but that elusive first win still awaits them.

So, Norfolk were 8-4 up going into the mixed doubles, needing two matches to secure a three points victory.  Murphy and Cooper came up trumps in their game but Philpott and Culyer lost a tough three setter, leaving Gerrard and Pike to win  the final game. It was nail-biting stuff, with the game tied at one all and Middlesex 19-12 up in the final set. But the Norfolk pair dug so deep to claw their way back, producing some of their very best play to clinch the game 21-19, giving the visitors their well deserved three point victory.

*   In complete contrast, the second team are having a very difficult season and have produced only one victory in their first five matches Their latest defeat was at the hands of the in form Staffordshire second string, going down 12-3. Unfortunately, Norfolk were severely under strength due to the illness of several key players, leaving them one lady short and only able to contest six of the level doubles matches.  Alex Wyett won his singles, beating the Staffs no.1 in three long sets. Chris Piff, Helen Newstead and Lucy Curran  all had tough matches but were unfortunate not to show anything for their efforts.

In the mens doubles, Wyett and James Ruthen beat the Staffs first pair quite comfortably, but then went under to their second pair, whilst Christian Nielsen and Piff had two long and very close three setters. both of which ended in defeat. In the ladies doubles Katie Ruthen and Newstead put in a great performance to beat the Staffs second pair, but, unfortunately, all three mixed matches went to the home side, leaving Norfolk with three remaining matches in which to consolidate their position in Division 3 of the ICC.