Norfolk Mens and Ladies teams produced superb results for the county and have won promotion in this prestigious national event.
Norfolk Ladies will make an immediate return to the top flight of county tennis and compete in Div 1 at Eastbourne next year. The Men, having been in Div 1 three years ago, were competing in Div 3 but are now moving in the right direction again after a successful week in Ilkley.
The Ladies were playing on home soil on the fantastic grassscourts at Cromer LTC. With a full strength team of Amy Partridge, Olivia Nicholls, Sam Noble, Captain Lucy Brooks, Maddie Brooks and Frances Evans it was all to play for. Achieving a well deserved 6-3 win on Day 1 over Cheshire, the same team followed it up by defeating Essex 7-2 on Tuesday.
Amy Partridge was forced to drop out due to work commitments on Wednesday. She was replaced by Emily Barrett a promising young junior. On her debut Emily, playing alongside Olivia Nicholls won all three matches setting the team up for a 6-3 victory over Hampshire. An incredible achievement by a player who is still playing 14/U.
Thursday the team faced Yorkshire. After the first round, captain Lucy Brooks had to come out for the day with an arm strain, Karen Highfield stepped in to partner Sam Noble. A win would have guaranteed promotion, but it wasn’t to be and a 4-5 result was to be girls only defeat.
So with four rubbers needed for promotion on the final day, the ball was firmly in Norfolk’s court. It also saw the orgional team from the opening two days return. A convincing win over Buckingham ensured promotion in first spot!
A jubilant Captain Lucy Brooks said: “I am so proud of all the team, putting the county first above other commitments and tournaments I feel blessed to have such a loyal team! On to Eastbourne next year!!
Further North, the Men’s team under the considered guidance of captain Nicky Crawley were cautiously optimistic about there chances. On Day 1, they defeated East of Scotland 6-3, with Richard Bloomfield and Will Davies leading the way winning 3 from 3 matches. Day 2 proved to be the critical fixture with a 5-4 win over North Wales. With the tie level at 4-4, Dan Wynn partnering Kris Jenkins won 10-6 in a deciding tie-break to secure victory.
The team now believed they could achieve promotion. A relatively straight forward, 6-3 victory over Somerset followed. Rain forced the tie indoors but it wasn’t going to upset the momentum. It was an important day for the team overall with Tom Hunter, Alex Mcnaughton and Will Foster all making debuts for the senior team.
Day 4 was again played indoors and Norfolk raced to a 4-2 lead against Lancashire. At one stage all 3 of the final round of matches were in tie break deciders. Again, the match score was levelled at 4-4. But cometh the hour cometh the man, Dan Wynne this time partnering Richard Bloomfield clinching the tiebreak 10-7 and a 5-4.
With promotion guaranteed Captain Crawley decided to play the younger members against a Lincolnshire team also playing for promotion. The Lads went down 4-5, but it was a great experience that will bode well for next year in Div 2. With both Tom Fisher and Johnny Wynne also earning valuable victories throughout the week, it really was a team effort.
Special praise must go to Olivia Nicholls, Amy Partridge and Richard Bloomfield, who all remained undefeated throughout the week. .