Norfolk’s youngsters secure top four finish in 12 Counties Tennis Championships

Norfolk Mini Orange: Back, left to right: Thom Lavis and Chris Evans. Front: Eleanor Widdows, Scott

Norfolk Mini Orange: Back, left to right: Thom Lavis and Chris Evans. Front: Eleanor Widdows, Scott Whiting, Fred Withers, Joe Henden. - Credit: Archant

Norfolk's Mini Orange team travelled to Corby to take part in the 12 Counties Championships for 9U players, finishing a creditable fourth after a tough day of competition.

After progressing through the group stages, Norfolk were beaten in the semi-finals by strong favourites Hertfordshire and then narrowly lost to Cambridgeshire in a third/fourth play-off.

The team's top two players, Scott Whiting and Joe Henden, were unbeaten in the group stages and the first of their wins came against Cambridgeshire to give Norfolk a 2-0 lead.

After Fred Withers and Eleanor Widdows lost their matches at numbers three and four respectively, the match was drawn at 2-2.

Whiting and Henden continued their good form againt Northamptonshire second up and this time Withers was able to pick up a win to leave Norfolk as 3-1 victors.

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The final group match against Leicestershire followed the same pattern as the earlier clash with Cambridgeshire and resulted in a second draw for Norfolk, who ultimately progressed to the knockout stage in second place, thanks to the application of the countback system.

The semi-final clash with Hertfordshire proved too much for the team who fought hard without much reward.

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Whiting gave nationals runner-up Oliver Tarvett a real test as he forced a third set before losing 7-5 in a tense decider.

Henden was in with a chance in the early stages of each set but he too was beaten.

This time he lost in straight sets 7-5, 7-5. Withers and Widdows each lost to confirm Hertfordshire's place in the final and Norfolk's exit from the main draw.

A third/fourth play-off against group stage opponents Cambridgeshire, ended 2-2 for a second time.

The countback system worked against Norfolk on this occasion as Henden's win came in three sets and resulted in a fourth place finish overall.

Captain Chris Evans was pleased with his team's attitude on the day.

'All of our players were in good spirits and warmed up well, looking relaxed ahead of the event.

'Fourth was a fair result but the top three teams were not far from our reach.'

Semi-final conquerors Hertfordshire did not drop a match all day and went on to win the event overall.

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