Tennis: Norfolk Ladies gain promotion to Group Two - and a piece of history for men
Norfolk Ladies achieved promotion to Group Two of AEGON Summer County Cup after finishing second in their division at Ilkley Lawn Tennis and Squash Club last week.
An opening day loss to group-topping East of Scotland was followed up by successive wins over South Wales, Sussex, Dorset and Berkshire to finish in second place and secure promotion.
The narrow 5-4 loss on Monday could have been different as Karen Highfield and Lucy Brooks were beaten after holding match points, but Norfolk bounced back with an 8-1 demolition of South Wales on Tuesday.
Sussex proved tricky opponents on day three, but every pair chipped in with two rubbers for a pleasing 6-3 score line and Norfolk's promotion effort was back on course.
All three pairs took the maximum on Thursday against a struggling Dorset outfit and that left the team needing just one rubber to clinch promotion on the final day against Berkshire. Not leaving anything to chance, Norfolk won 6-0 to finish in second place and will join the East of Scotland in Group Two next year.
Stars of the show were Amy Partridge and Olivia Nicholls who narrowly missed out on an undefeated week after winning 13 of their 14 matches, while youngster Maddie Brooks stepped into the line up brilliantly with Karen Highfield after an injury to captain Lucy Brooks on day one.
• The Norfolk Men's team achieved their best ever result last week after finishing fourth at AEGON Summer County Cup to retain their position in Group One for 2013.
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Competing at the International Lawn Tennis Centre in Eastbourne for the first time since 1977, the team won three out of five matches to become the first Norfolk side ever to avoid relegation in the top flight of county tennis.
A slow start against Surrey was quickly forgotten with memorable wins against Derbyshire and Kent, before defeat to national champions Hertfordshire and a final day win against Cheshire completed an outstanding week for Barry Fulcher's side.
The first round proved costly on day one as Norfolk fell 3-0 behind at lunch against Surrey, but a vastly improved afternoon left the final score at 6-3.
The pairings were changed for Tuesday's vital match with Derbyshire and the reshuffle worked wonders, as Norfolk won 6-3 with James Auckland and Dan Wynne, Richard Bloomfield and Nicky Crawley and Barry Fulcher and Tom Spinks each winning two rubbers.
Wednesday was the highlight of the week as Norfolk overturned a previously undefeated Kent side that had beaten Hertfordshire the day before. The match hinged on an exciting second round and when Spinks and Fulcher won a third set tie-break in front of a large crowd, Norfolk led 4-2.
Bloomfield and Auckland completed a perfect day to clinch victory and put Norfolk on the brink of safety.
A heavy defeat to Hertfordshire meant that it was all to play for on Friday. Auckland and Spinks were missing from the line-up but Norfolk posted a 5-1 win over Cheshire to secure their spot in Group One for another year.