So near, so far for County Cup tennis teams

Norfolk Girls - back L-R, Maria Andrews, Lorna Magrath, Maddie Brooks, Olivia Nicholls. Front L-R, B

Norfolk Girls - back L-R, Maria Andrews, Lorna Magrath, Maddie Brooks, Olivia Nicholls. Front L-R, Bronte Farrage, Dayna Rice, Klara Moolman, Annie Bradley-Watson. - Credit: Archant

Norfolk's 18 and under teams came close to promotion at the AEGON County Cup – but each were thwarted on the final day.

The girls were beaten 5-3 by Staffordshire while the boys fell 6-3 to Gloucestershire with promotion up for grabs.

Competing in Division 3B at Easton College Tennis Centre, the girls went into the weekend in good form after success at the 12 Counties Championships event.

Though missing Pippa Horn, they had Olivia Nicholls, Maria Andrews and Maddie Brooks available at the top of the order while Klara Moolman, Lorna Magrath and Bronte Farrage completed the singles line up.

Norfolk found themselves level after singles on day one against Cheshire; Moolman and Farrage each winning in straight sets before Nicholls completed a three-hour epic against national number two Kim Schmider.

In the doubles Farrage and Magrath cruised through their match and Andrews and Brooks won in two sets to set up an exciting climax which saw Nicholls and Moolman survive a long championship tie-break to win in three sets for a 6-3 team victory.

Against North of Scotland on day two Norfolk also led 4-2 after singles with wins for Nicholls, Andrews, Moolman and Magrath but Annie Bradley-Watson and Dayna Rice were unable to finish the job in a championship tie-break.

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Moolman and Brooks came from behind to force a championship tie-break at second pair, the Norfolk duo eventually winning 14-12 before Nicholls and Andrews wrapped up the victory to set up a straight shoot-out with Staffordshire for promotion.

On the final day Norfolk trailed 3-0 after defeats for Farrage, Magrath and Moolman, but Brooks won at number three. Staffordshire were on the brink of promotion following Andrews' loss at two but Nicholls made it five wins from five matches to keep the tie live. Norfolk would need all three doubles to overturn the deficit but it was not to be despite a win for Andrews and Brooks.

The boys, playing at Cardiff in Division 5B, won 8-1 against Durham & Cleveland on Friday with singles wins from Jack Long-Martinez, Tom Fisher, Johnnie Carmichael-Plester, Will Davies, Stephen Harlow and Tom Hunter. Davies and Harlow picked up a doubles win, as did Hunter and Fisher. Norfolk had day two wrapped up after the singles again as they led Hereford & Worcestershire 5-1 with only Carmichael-Plester narrowly missing out. Two more rubbers arrived in the doubles.

Against Gloucestershire the boys trailed 4-2 after singles – Davies and Hunter completing their undefeated singles records. Davies and Harlow reduced the arrears but the remaining two rubbers went the other way as Hunter and Fisher were beaten for the first time and Long-Martinez and Carmichael-Plester fell in a championship tie-break in their only doubles appearance of the weekend to leave the final score a harsh 6-3.

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