As tennis players we have been extremely fortunate to be able to play our sport since May, but organised inter-County competition has not been possible this summer.
Thoughts therefore turned to setting up a friendly match with one of our close neighbours to fill the competitive void. As the words “friendly” and “Suffolk” have never knowingly appeared in the same sentence, for Norfolk teams, it was the logical thing to ask our friends in Cambridgeshire if they wanted to have an informal match for seniors. The challenge was gladly accepted and players were readily recruited. The age range was a little wider than originally envisaged with the younger end hardly out of nappies and able to dress themselves (i.e. early 60s) and the older end hardly able to dress themselves due to advancing stiffness (i.e. over 70). However, everyone managed to arrive at Easton tennis centre on time, fully dressed, shoe laces tied and raring to go.
The format was similar to senior Inter-county, but with some changes to allow more players, and no singles rubbers. Each county had four pairs, split into “A” and “B” groups, so everyone had two rubbers each consisting of two sets with a match tiebreak if required at 1 set all.
As befits a friendly the final tally was 4 rubbers apiece, Cambs winning the “A” match 3-1 and Norfolk winning the “B” match by the same score. The tennis was competitive and played in an excellent spirit throughout. It was a real shame that the recently imposed “Rule of 6” prevented any socialising, but there was some opportunity for a decent, socially distant, chat between the rubbers.
Our thanks go to captain Rob for all the organisation and especially the staff at Easton Tennis Centre for agreeing to set up and manage everything in a Covid-safe way. We are hopeful of a return match in Cambridge fairly soon.
Norfolk Team: “A” Squad Mike Hutson & Keith Arnold, Robert Ollman (captain) & Richard Palmer. “B” Squad Mick Musson & Cris Gates, Alan Hudson & Doug Mace.