Amber stars on tough day for Norfolk

Lyndsey HewisonNorfolk teenagers Rebecca Heeles and Amber Ratcliffe put on a classy double act on the first day of the East Region county week at East Herts. Norfolk lost 7-2 to the hosts, Hertfordshire, but the girls - both members of an England training squad - were responsible for the county's points.Lyndsey Hewison

Norfolk teenagers Rebecca Heeles and Amber Ratcliffe put on a classy double act on the first day of the East Region county week at East Herts.

Norfolk lost 7-2 to the hosts, Hertfordshire, but the girls - both members of an England training squad - were responsible for the county's points.

Heeles, 17, and Ratcliffe,14, paired up in the morning foursomes for a gritty one-up win over former international Alison Franklin and her partner, Harriet Key. The Norfolk pair won the last hole to take the point.

Then in the singles, Ratcliffe beat her opponent, Lucinda Mileham, by the very comfortable margin of 5/4.


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Ratcliffe is the reigning English schools' U16 champion, the South East of England and the Norfolk schools' champion. Heeles is the Norfolk girls' champion and a past winner of the English U16 schools title.

Although the other members of the Norfolk team were unable to add to the scoreline their play impressed county captain Nickie Clarke.

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'The scoreline belies how well the girls played,' she said. 'I'm pleased with today's result. If you'd offered me two points beforehand I would have taken it.'

Hertfordshire are the toughest opponents Norfolk will face this week, which is also being contested by Essex, Cambs & Hunts, Bedfordshire and Suffolk. The winner will qualify for the finals of the English Counties' Championship in September.

Hertfordshire won this event last year and the hosts' team includes two England internationals - and one of them, last year's English champion Charlie Douglass, was rested on the opening day.

The team did include the formidable presence of Hannah Burke who has just won the Irish strokeplay championship and the prestigious Astor Salver. Soon, she will tee up for England in the European team championships - and her handicap is plus-four!

In the day's other matches Bedfordshire beat Suffolk 8-1 and Essex beat Cambs & Hunt 6�-2�.

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