Team: Ian Blackburn, Adam Watkinson, James Tomlinson & Andrew Devaney
Overall we had mostly close encounters with the other 4 counties in the group. The same line-up was fielded for all the matches which meant this year we were able to fulfil our fixtures. We played well against Avon beating them 3-2, with James producing a battling performance to win his singles, which ultimately proved the decisive match. However, we lost narrowly against both Oxfordshire and Derbyshire 3-2 in competitive encounters, which could have gone either way. The last match against Staffordshire, who were group winners, was a disappointing 5-0 lost although there was not much in it between the sides; more a case of not taking good opportunities on the day. Everyone in the team put in some good performances over the course of the matches and hopefully we will have something to build upon for next year in Division 2.
Team:- Rob Hall (Cringleford Tennis Club), Graham Tate (Acle), Adam Fryatt (Cringleford), Kevin Hart (Cromer), Owen Jary (Cringleford)
Unavailable: Jim Pallister (Cromer), Matt Breese (Easton College), Stuart Gray (Cromer)
07.07.19 Away v Lancashire 1-4 loss Games 30-58
04.08.19 Away v Northants 0-5 loss Games 35-59
14.09.19 Home v Lincs 1-4 loss Games 26-58
22.09.19 Home v Berks 1-4 loss Games 29-57
Another challenging year in Division 2B (we should have been relegated to Division 3 but once again we managed to stay up!). However, this year in all 4 matches I felt we had chances to win rubbers and did not feel outplayed as we have done in previous years.
We first played Lancashire, the eventual Division winners. Rob Hall at 1 singles should have got a win losing 7-5 6-7(8) 1-0 (10) in a really close match. Rob & Graham winning their Doubles match. We lost 4-1 overall but feel 3-2 would have been a fairer result. Kevin Hart made his County Debut and is now another welcome addition to the squad which is slowly improving in numbers & experience.
Northants was a 5-0 loss but 2 matches went to 3rd Set match tie-breaks so a lot closer match than it looks on paper.
Lincs at Cromer was a difficult match. A good win for Stuart Gray at 1 singles and more important experience gained for Adam Fryatt & Kevin Hart for the future. More knowledge gained of what pairings work & do not work for me.
A good doubles win for Stuart Gray & Graham Tate against Berkshire at Cromer in our Final match with Graham close to winning his Singles also.
With the additional experience this squad of players is gaining each year it will hopefully mean tight games are returned as Wins rather than Losses in the coming years. I feel the technical & physical attributes of the players are good enough – we just need a little more when it comes to being more Match tight (Tactically & Mentally) at key moments in matches:- 6 Match tie-breaks played & only 2 won this season. This is something we will be working on over the Winter.
DAVID HENDERSON (PLAYED DOWN)
GARY THROWER (CAPTAIN)
IT WAS DISAPPOINTING TO ONLY HAVE THREE FIXTURES THIS YEAR, HOME TO CAMBRIDGESHIRE, AWAY TO
DURHAM & CLEVELAND AND NORTHUMBERLAND. THE TWO AWAY FIXTURES COULD NOT BE ARRANGED
OVER ONE WEEKEND, FRANKLY THIS PROBABLY WAS FOR THE BEST AS LAST YEAR TWO OF OUR PLAYERS
PULLED UP INJURED WHEN WE TRIED A DOUBLE HEADER! UNDOUBTEDLY AN AGE THING.
WE COMMENCED OUR CAMPAIGN ON 30 JUNE WITH A VISIT TO SILKSWORTH TENNIS CENTRE IN
SUNDERLAND, OUR TEAM PYE, REEVES, SMITH AND THROWER. MARK REEVES WAS OUR ONLY SUCCESS IN
A 1-4 DEFEAT, WINNING HIS SINGLES IN A CHAMPIONSHIP TIE-BREAK.
ON 4 AUGUST CAMBRIDGESHIRE CAME TO US, THE TEAM PYE, REEVES (PLAYED FIRST RUBBER), SMITH,
WARDLE AND THROWER (PLAYED SECOND RUBBER), WE LOST 1-4. MARK REEVES AGAIN OUR ONLY
SUCCESS, WINNING HIS SINGLES 2-0.
FINALLY, ON 8 SEPTEMBER WE TRAVELLED TO THE NORTHUMBERLAND CLUB IN NEWCASTLE, LITTLE
REALISING THAT WE HAD AGREED TO A DATE WHEN THERE WOULD BE TWO COMPETING ELITE SPORTING
EVENTS; THE GREAT NORTH RUN AND THE TOUR OF BRITAIN CYCLE RACE. ACCOMMODATION WAS HARD
TO FIND. THE VENUE WAS ALSO TO BE A CHALLENGE BEING AT THE START OF THE RUN AND SURROUNDED
BY ROAD CLOSURES. SENSIBLY, WE ELICITED ADVICE FROM THE LOCALS. UNFORTUNATELY NOT FOLLOWED
BY STEVE WHO FOUND HIMSELF DRIVING PART OF THE ROUTE OF THE RUN, PERHAPS THEY THOUGHT IT
WAS THE SAFETY CAR!
MARK, WAS NOT AVAILABLE NOR WAS KEVIN WHO WOULD HAVE LOVED TO REVISIT HIS OLD STOMPING
GROUND. FORTUNATELY DAVID HENDERSON AGREED TO PLAY. THE TEAM IS IMMENSELY GRATEFUL FOR
HIS SUPPORT. WE WON 3-2, PYE WINNING HIS SINGLES IN A CHAMPIONSHIP TIE-BREAK,
HENDERSON/SMITH WINNING THEIR FIRST RUBBER AND PYE/THROWER WINNING THEIR DOUBLES
WE FINISHED 3RD (OF 4) IN DIVISION 3A.
MY THANKS TO THE TEAM FOR THEIR SUPPORT THIS YEAR.
GARY THROWER (CAPT)
With due deference to the advancing years of the participants, County matches played between “seniors” have a match tie-break if any rubber should reach one set all. This proved to be an inspired rule for Norfolk men of a certain age in 2019.
In 2018 the Norfolk Mens Over 65 team finished third in Div 2, so would not have expected promotion. Somehow the gnomes of Roehampton decided they should be promoted anyway, so for 2019 new skipper Rob Ollman found himself in charge of a Division 1b team with matches against Kent, Staffordshire, Cheshire, Berkshire and Middlesex.
Things did not start well with a 5-0 home loss to a very strong Kent side, who fielded the national No1 man at Over 65. Mike Hutson secured the only set won by Norfolk in the match. With Mike away for the next match, away v Staffordshire, Philip Tye was drafted in, playing down from the Over 70’s for his one match. Unfortunately, facing a very strong Staffordshire team, the result was similar – a 5-0 loss.
Undeterred, the team travelled to Cheshire, the 2018 champions, during the heatwave of County week. Playing indoors in 30+ degrees heat and on the alien surface of carpet seemed to suit the Norfolk men and a 5-0 win was secured thanks to four of the five rubbers being won on match tiebreaks. Next up was a home match v Berkshire. This was always likely to be a tight affair, and Norfolk squeaked through thanks to two singles wins from Ollman and Hutson and a doubles win from stalwart pairing Arnold & Henderson (aka the brick wall). And yes, all three rubbers won were on match tiebreaks.
With two wins under their belts and a Div 1 place for 2020 all but secured the team headed to Queens club in London for their final match v Middlesex, to be played on clay the week after all members of the team had played Cromer Senior on grass. Not at all perturbed by this Mike Hutson won his singles in two very tight sets, and then the fun started. Arnold and Henderson edged their first doubles on a match tiebreak, after saving two match points at 7-9 down. So Norfolk required one of the final two doubles rubbers to take the match. Unfortunately the “brick wall” crumbled a bit leaving the outcome on Hutson and Palmer in their doubles. Of course this match went to a match tiebreak. Just to make things even more interesting they went 4 match points down at 5-9, but thanks to some positive play and perhaps some nerves from their opponents they won the next 6 points to take the rubber and the match.
In the three ties they won Norfolk took all nine of the match tiebreaks they contested. 2019, year of the match tiebreak!
Squad: Rob Ollman (captain), Keith Arnold, David Henderson, Mike Hutson, Richard Palmer, Philip Tye.