Norfolk slip to Winter County Cup relegation in Bath
- Credit: Submitted
Norfolk's men's team travelled to Bath with a full-strength side for their second visit to the premier division of the Winter County Cup, competing against Hertfordshire, Lancashire and South Wales.
After tight 5-4 losses against both defending champions Herts and South Wales, Norfolk's fate was sealed with relegation back to group two of the competition.
Group One is a notoriously difficult group to stay in, with two of the four teams being relegated each year.
There were notable unbeaten performances from Richard Bloomfield, winning two singles at number one and partnering up with James Auckland to win a further two doubles, as well as Tom Spinks, winning two singles at number five and partnering captain Barry Fulcher to win two doubles.
This campaign marks the end of Barry Fulcher's captaincy, with the skipper saying: 'I took over with the goal of pulling our best players of a generation together to play in one team, which had never previously been achieved, to reach Group One of the competition for winter and summer, as well as really challenging for titles.
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'I am happy to say we gave this a great go with four trips to the elite division during my reign. First and foremost, I would like to thank the group of players for their support in turning out for the side – a strong bunch of characters who represent the pride and heart of Norfolk, at each and every event.'
Norfolk's ladies team were also competing at the weekend, in Sunderland in Division Three of the event.
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On the first day the team suffered a heavy defeat, losing 8-1 to Lancashire. Olivia Nichols picked up the only win, winning 7-6, 6-7, 6-1 in a typically gutsy encounter.
Rosie Pooley was playing her first ladies county cup and almost managed a win, losing in a match tie-break whilst partnering captain Karen Highfield in the doubles.
The second match was close, with Norfolk eventually losing loss 5-4 to Berkshire. Norfolk's highlight was Sam Noble, who recorded a great three-set win playing at number five.
On the final day, Norfolk needed a win against East of Scotland to avoid relegation. The team duly obliged and battled through to a 5-4 victory.
After the win a pleased Karen Highfield said: 'Everyone dug deep and played really well. Rosie Pooley picked up her first win at ladies county cup with a great win at six singles.
'Also Sam Noble pulling off her second three-set win of the weekend. Team spirit and effort was high all weekend even on the tough days. Well done to the whole team, on to next year.'