In contrast to last season, we had Roger Meadows and Jim Wiseman join us from the over 70’s . So with Mike Lake and myself we had a solid team. We had some useful practice sessions , and all remained injury free. Unfortunately after relegation we found ourselves in the bottom group – 2 B , with only 3 counties to play. Our first fixture against Suffolk at Easton in June was a close hard-fought match with 2 Championship Tie-breaks. Meadows and Edelsten managed to rescue theirs from the jaws of defeat. From 4-9 down they hit on an attack of self- belief to win 11-9 !!
Lake and Wiseman also won a Championship Tie-break against the same pair, and defeated their 2nd pair 6-4, 7-5 to clinch a victory by 4 rubbers to 0.
In July we traveled to Luton to play Beds indoors on a fast surface with almost continuous noise of aircraft taking off right overhead. We won a rather one=sided match , losing only 12 games in total ,so again 4 rubbers to 0. Their Beefeater hospitality was excellent .
Our final match in August was at home versus Dorset . Fortuitously they had postponed the original fixture date on the hottest day of the year (30+ degrees) , as one player’s smart wrist watch had his resting heart rate at 125 and his blood pressure raised. As with Beds , we had an enjoyable match with some good tennis , but we were better and more mobile , winning again by 4 rubbers to 0 . The second pairs had a good match 6-3,7-5 to Lake and Wiseman. We treated them to a leisurely meal at the Premier Inn , as they only had to get to Ipswich for their Suffolk match the next day.
We are therefore top of the Division, and hope for promotion to Division 1 and some more challenging opponents.
Tony Edelsten (Capt.)
2nd – 4th August – Eastbourne
Team – Katie Brooks, Andrea McCombe, Karen Highfield, Annika Richardson, Kerri-Ann Gibbons, Jeannette Baxter
This year the event went back to its original format which means we took 2 extra players than the previous years. This was the 1st time playing in the 35’s team for Andi and the 1st time in about 17yrs for Kerri representing the county.
Day 1 v Kent
Jeannette and Karen played the singles finishing 1-1 before the 1st doubles pair went on. For round 1 Annika and Katie played together managing to come from a set down to win in a match tie break. This meant after the 1st round we were 2-1 up. For round 2 the doubles pairs were Katie and Andi, Karen and Kerri. It all came down to a match tiebreak which unfortunately we were unable to win, eventually losing 3-2 overall.
Day 2 v Herefordshire & Worcestershire
After going 2-0 down in the singles it was up to Annika and Jeannette to keep us in the match. Once again it came to a match tiebreak which they won 10-6.
We needed to win both doubles in round 2 to win, Kerri and Karen won their match to level the tie but the opposing teams pair were too strong in the last match. 3-2 loss.
Day 3 v Wiltshire
Both teams were playing to stay in division 4. Jeannette went on 1st for her singles and had a great match eventually winning 10-6 in the match tiebreak. Karen then won her singles to take us to 2-0 up only 1 more match needed for the win! Kerri and Annika almost had it in the doubles going down 7-10 in the match tiebreak. It then all fell to Karen and Andi to win the final rubber of the day. After winning the 1st set they found themselves 6-2 down in the 2nd set tiebreak but made a comeback to take it 10-8!
A great weekend of tennis with a great team and supporters who came to enjoy the tennis/ Eastbourne sun! Thank you for the team for all their hard work and support, well played!!
Norfolk’s O35 Men clinched promotion from Division 6B at Devonshire Park in Eastbourne over the August bank holiday weekend.
Comfortable wins over Northamptonshire and Avon left the team needing just a single rubber on the final day against the Channel Islands, which they duly claimed to top the group and seal promotion.
The campaign started with a 4-1 win over Northamptonshire; Nick Stocker’s narrow singles defeat put Norfolk behind until Barry Fulcher won in straight sets to level the scores.
Back-to-back doubles wins for Nicky Crawley and captain Dan Wynne secured the team victory, before Chris Stocker replaced Fulcher for the doubles, partnering brother Nick for a fourth Norfolk win.
A fine start, with every squad member on the board.
Day two’s opponents Avon had a win over the Channel Islands under their belts, but Norfolk were in the groove early and went 2-0 ahead with comfortable singles performances from Crawley and Fulcher.
The result was in the bag when Wynne and Nick Stocker won a doubles in straight sets, but Norfolk were feeling ruthless and Fulcher and Chris Stocker made it four with a hard-fought victory.
The 5-0 whitewash was completed by Wynne and Nick Stocker, leaving Norfolk on the brink of promotion and needing just one rubber on the final day to claim top spot.
On Sunday, it was the captain who stepped on court first against the Channel Islands hoping to finish the job for his team, but the fairytale ending was not to be as the previously undefeated Wynne produced a woeful performance to give Norfolk’s opponents a glimmer of hope.
Next to try and get the party started was Crawley, so often the hero for his county over the last 20 years.
Unlike his team mate, the man from Caister rose to the occasion and produced another commanding singles performance to win in straight sets and confirm Norfolk as group champions.
Even an ill-tempered outing for the Stocker brothers did little to dampen the weekend’s success as Norfolk collected their medals in the brilliant Sussex sunshine.
Dan Wynne was pleased that his all-star squad delivered :
“We came here with big expectations; we have two former international players in Crawley and Fulcher, and a young squad with nearly 350 caps for Norfolk’s first team between us. Anything less than promotion would have been hugely disappointing.
“That said, we faced good opposition who made it a great weekend of competition, so we are pleased to have achieved our objective.”
Over the weekend of 24/25th November both the County Mens and Ladies teams were competing in the Winter County Cup.
The Men were playing away in Gratham in Group 2 whilst the Ladies were at Easton & Otley College Tennis Centre also competing in Group 2.
Both teams seem to be in a transitional phase and it is encouraging to see so many of the county juniors now making the progression into the senior teams. With this is mind, it was going to be a big ask to maintain there status in these divisions, playing against some of the best players across the country.
The Men got off to a great start against South Wales. Having drawn the singles rubbers 3-3, the doubles took on added significance. The rubber was eventually decided in the final match, with skipper Nicky Crawley and partner Alex Mcnaughton winning 6-4/6-4. On Saturday the Men were always a rubber behind and could not turn things around in the doubles, therefore suffering a 3-6 defeat to Berkshire. On the final day, Norfolk were in the comfortable position of only needing a couple of wins to avoid relegation. This they managed with ease despite losing 4-5 to Lincolnshire.
Captain Nicky Crawley was pleased with the teams efforts: “I am proud of the boys. This team always surprises me. We seem to play our best tennis in these competitions and to be in such a comfortable position on the last day is testament to a great togetherness amongst the team”.
The Ladies were up against some county tennis heavyweights including Lancashire, Surrey. On day 1 singles wins for Sam Noble, Rosie Pooley and Maria Andrews (playing her first singles match for 3 years) gave Norfolk a great platform. A win for Emily Barrett and Rosie meant the team were one win away from an unlikely victory. Unfortunately the pairings of Vianne Palffy and Frances Evans and Sam and Marie both ended up losing 7-10 in a championship tie-break. So close!
On day 2 it was always going to be difficult playing against a very strong Surrey team who had already won 9-0 on day 1. Norfolk gave there all but again were defeated 0-9.
Going into the final day, the girls needed to win against Sussex to avoid relegation. Player of the weekend Rosie Pooley was the only singles winner, meaning the tie was decided before playing the doubles.
All in all some valuable experience gained. Moving forward Caroline Blincoe will now be supporting Sam Nobile with the Ladies team and will add a great wealth of experience and knowledge to the set up.