Norfolk teams prepare for County Cup test

Norfolk's senior county teams compete in the AEGON Winter County Cup this weekend as the men's side head to Bolton Arena and the ladies travel down to Redbridge.

Both will take strong squads to their respective groups with the men doing battle in Group 2B against Cheshire, Lancashire and the West of Scotland and the Ladies in 4A with Dorset, Devon and Leicestershire.

The men's team, who became only the second Norfolk men's squad ever to reach Group 1 of Summer County Cup in July, have been helped in their preparations by Easton College Tennis Centre who provided free courts twice a week for the team to train.

Five members of the Norfolk first team squad are still based in the area including professional Richard Bloomfield who has been part of practices every week.

Matt Breese, Sports & Tennis Manager at Easton College, said: 'I'm delighted that we've been able to form such a positive partnership with the Norfolk Men's side and that we've been able to help them in the build up to county cup. We will be hosting Ladies Group 2A at Easton College which is a reflection on the quality of facilities we have here.'

Captain Barry Fulcher, who will travel up to Bolton from his home in Brighton, explained the importance of the support from Easton College Tennis Centre:

'Winter County Cup is intense competition and you have to hit the ground running on day one. The assistance from Easton for the Norfolk-based members of the squad is tremendous and I can't thank Matt Breese and the college enough for their support.'

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Nine members of the current ten man squad are available for Bolton with former Captain Chris Parker returning to the set up after a year abroad; only James Auckland is unavailable from the team that reached Group 1 in the summer.

Norfolk Ladies will combine experience with youth for their Group 4A campaign as senior players Karen Highfield and Lucy Brooks and veteran Karen Woodrow are joined by five talented juniors.

Amy Partridge and Olivia Nicholls, 18 and 17 respectively, have county cup experience beyond their years having taken 13 rubbers from 15 as a pair in 2010. Partridge was abroad in the summer this year but returns to the squad this time around.

Norfolk are hoping to call on the talents of Pippa Horn for the final day of competition which would be an enormous boost as she currently sits third in the list of British girls in the ITF junior world rankings.

Completing the line up are 14 year olds Klara Moolman and Maddie Brooks.

The AEGON Winter County Cup runs from Friday, November 25 to Sunday, NIvember 27 and a full list of groups and venues can be found on the LTA website.