On weekend Nov 22-24th, Norfolk Mens team were competing at Liverpool in Div 2a of Winter County Cup.
The team was full of youth supported by some experience and Mr Norfolk, Captain Nicky Crawley. The full squad included: Alex Mcnaughton, Fred Withers, Alex Watkinson, Mike Digby, Dan Wynne, Matt Samson, Nicky Crawley, James Aukland, Kris Jenkins.
On Day 1 the team faced Lancashire, but with each singles player losing their opening service game it would prove to be an uphill task. Straight set defeats in all the singles and only a consolation doubles win for Crawley/Jenkins. A 1-7 defeat was not part of the plan.
Saturday welcomed the introduction of James Aukland, an outstanding performer for the county with a wealth of experience. Facing a strong Cheshire team, this change alone would not be enough. A 2-7 defeat meant that the final day would be a straight shoot out with Derbyshire to avoid relegation.
After the singles the match was tied 3-3, so two rubbers were needed to secure safety. The match score was soon 4-4, both teams each winning a doubles rubber. It would all go down to the final rubber. Norfolk were represented by the Mcnaughton/Samson partnership, who despite being relatively new to senior tennis, had played together throughout juniors. After 2 sets it was still all square, so a final set tiebreak would decide relegation. Unfortunately despite a determined fight back, Norfolk would lose 8-10 and face relegation to Div 3 of Winter County Cup.
Captain Crawley said: “We had our chances and need to protect our own service games better. The younger players are still developing and we need to keep pushing them to ensure they play their best tennis. Defeat is never easy to take but we will learn from this and play better in the future”.
Over the weekend, 22-24th November the Ladies were competing in Taunton at the Div 3b Winter County Cup event.
A young team, including Maria Andrews, Maddie Brooks, Frances Evans, Sam Noble (Capt), Emily Barrett, Eleanor Widdows, Elissa Wood, Hannah Wilson-Kemsley, Millie Brooks were captained by Sam Noble and Caroline Blincoe. They faced strong competition against Dorset, Avon and Nottinghamshire and ultimately came up one rubber short!
An opening day 3-6 defeat to Dorset could have been so different. Three of the rubbers ending up as final set defeats. On Saturday the team played Nottinghamshire. Wins for Maddie and Frances in the No.3 and No.4 singles would not be enough and the team would go on to lose 2-7.
Going into the final day against Avon, the team knew that a win would ensure safety and guarantee they remained in Div 3b. After going 3-0 up, optimism was high but the singles finished with the teams level at 3-3. Maddie and Maria then won the opening doubles, but defeat for Emily/Millie and Sam/Frances meant Norfolk lost 4-5 and were relegated to Div 4.
Sam Noble (Captain) said “This is the second time in successive county cups that we have been relegated by a single rubber. It is tough to take but the girls will only improve as they are so young. We will bounce back next year”.
NLTA asked Mike Digby, ex-county junior for an update on his work as a hitting partner on the ATP and WTA Tours:
“Having just got back as a hitting partner for the WTA Finals in Shenzhen, China for Simona Halep, I was invited to be a hitting partner at the ATP Finals in London at the 02. My first practice was on the first Sunday with Medvedev. I was practicing with him from the Sunday to Wednesday which was such a good experience as he’s arguably been the best player in the world over the summer, having practiced with him a lot at Wimbledon, it was amazing to see how much he had improved over such a short period. I then had the opportunity to practice with Tsitsipas on the Wednesday & Thursday for the first time. It was a good few days for me as his team was really welcoming & I learned a lot of Patrick Mouratoglou, his coach. I was then asked to be a hitting partner for Federer from Wednesday for the rest of the tournament. It was a proud moment as he’s been my idol frowning up so being able to spend time with him & his team for 4 days or so both on and of the court was amazing. We had a few practices together as well as a match warm up on Centre court at the 02. It’s been an amazing week & ive learnt a lot from some top players. I’m looking forward to next season where I hope to start in Dubai with Halep & then the Australian Open as a hitting partner for the tournament”
Click here to see Digby warm up Tsitsipas
Following the launch of the LTA’s new strategy “Tennis Opened Up” and branding in April, all Counties have been given the opportunity to develop logos to tie in with the new LTA branding.
We thought it was a good opportunity for a refresh, so Norfolk LTA will be moving to a new logo which you will start to see on our digital media, correspondence and team clothing. If you already have team kit please don’t be concerned that it will need to be replaced right away. Any replacement can wait until we have a new one designed and your kit needs replacing for other reasons.
Our thanks to Chloe Hunter, past Norfolk Junior County player and current Graphic Design student at Nottingham Trent Uni, who designed the “Norfolk Tennis” bit!
Click on link below for a sneak preview: