Mixed luck for Norfolk youngsters

Daniel WynneThe Norfolk 18 and under county teams both found themselves embroiled in a battle for survival at County Cup last weekend but while the boys team escaped the drop, the girls were relegated.Daniel Wynne

The Norfolk 18 and under county teams both found themselves embroiled in a battle for survival at County Cup last weekend but while the boys team escaped the drop, the girls were relegated.

The boys, competing in Group 4A at Cambridge, took on the West of Scotland on day one and quickly found themselves 3-0 down after losses for Dom Eley, Harry Weeds and Alex Moyes. Jack Edwards steadied the ship and Nick Bradley-Watson beat the opposing No. 1 to keep Norfolk in touch as Rory Nicklin failed to level the scores.

The tie was lost however as Edwards and Weeds were unlucky to drop their doubles. Bradley-Watson and Eley grabbed a consolation rubber to make the final score 6-3.

Oliver Hindle came into the line-up for the tie with Cambridgeshire and was unlucky not to put Norfolk ahead. Weeds saved several match points before ultimately prevailing in a three hour-plus epic to even the scores. Moyes lost at four but form player Edwards won again to make the scores 2-2.

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Cambridgeshire then took a stranglehold on the tie with victories at first and second singles.

Jamie Mitchell was brought in for doubles and partnered the now un-stoppable Edwards to victory but Norfolk lost the other doubles, resulting in a second 6-3 reverse.

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Sunday's task was clear, with the winner of the clash with Bedfordshire retaining their group status and the loser relegated.

Eley returned to singles action and rewarded captains Chris Stocker and Stu Hunter's decision by giving Norfolk the lead. Weeds added a win at five but Moyes lost to put Bedfordshire on the board.

Edwards won his third singles of the weekend to extend Norfolk's lead and Bradley-Watson battled through a three set match to put Norfolk within one win of survival.

Fittingly, Edwards was involved in the key rubber as he and Mitchell dispelled fears of a fightback with a straight sets win. Norfolk claimed the remaining rubbers to run out 7-2 winners.

Meanwhile, the girls team suffered an agonising relegation from Group 3B on home turf at the Easton.

A first day loss to Lancashire set the tone for the weekend but an encouraging win at fifth singles for 12-year-old Klara Moolman was a bright note for the Norfolk side, who picked up two doubles wins to leave the final score at 6-3.

Cheshire were too strong for Norfolk on day two and only Olivia Nicholls managed a win as she bounced back from a tough defeat the day before to win in three sets.

So the scene was set for a relegation show-down with Hertfordshire. Pippa Horn came into the line-up at first singles to help out with the survival effort but the team went 3-0 down before Nicholls, Amy Partridge and Horn all won to bring Norfolk level with just the doubles to play.

Again Norfolk were behind when Steffi Burt and Meg Grainger lost at third pair before Nicholls and Partridge won to send the tie into a deciding rubber, which Horn and Moolman lost on a Championship tie-break.

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