WARWICKSHIRE women’s young side struggled in the sun on the opening day of the elite Group One of the Inter-County Championships in Eastbourne, losing to reigning champions Surrey 7-2, writes Sally Jones.
The Warwickshire first pair of former Stratford coach Hillyer and former British junior champion Lilly Mould, 17, from Solihull, narrowly failed to convert two match points against the powerful Surrey but were edged out on a tiebreak decider.
They then battled back to beat the second pair 6-4 in the third but lost to the third pair.
Surrey’s first pair, former Wimbledon star Mel South and Emily Appleton were unbeaten.
Warwickshire seconds Soumeya Anane, from Coventry, and Katie Malazonia thrashed their opposite numbers 6-2 6-2 but made little impression on the thirds.
Debutant Josie Williamson from Solihull showed exquisite touches on the volley, being paired first with fellow-newcomer Sophia Mezzone, then Holly Reed from Edgbaston as they went down fighting against more experienced opposition.
They meet Middlesex today (Tuesday), desperate to boost their rubbers total in the battle to avoid relegation.
Warwickshire Men made a thrilling start in Group Five at West Worthing, beating a strong West of Scotland side 5-4.
First pair Mason Recci from Solihull and Stratford-on-Avon’s Luke Hammond won three out of three, including a stirring victory against the top Scots pair Connor Thomson and Scott Macaulay, a quarter-finalist in the recent Wimbledon Junior doubles championship.
Warwickshire seconds pair – Sutton Coldfield stars Max Stewart and Oliver Nolan – also held match points against Thomson and Macaulay before losing the decider 7-5, then pulled off a straight sets victory against the Scottish third pair which guaranteed the Midlanders victory.
“It was a great win,” said new captain Gavin Henderson. “Several rubbers could have gone either way but we kept battling and won the crucial ones.
“Mason and Luke played out of their skins to beat the Scots’ first pair. There’s a terrific team spirit; our players and supporters were shouting and spurring one another on, so enthusiastically that we were told us to tone it down a bit – but all the games were played in a great spirit.
“We face Lancashire, another strong side next but this is a great start – and we’re going all-out for promotion.”
AEGON INTER-COUNTY CUP
Day 1 Results
Eastbourne, Group 1 Women’s Championship: Warwickshire lost to Surrey 2-7 (Warwickshire names first.)
Warwickshire 1st pair Natasha Hillyer/Lilly Mould lost to Surrey 1st pair Emily Appleton/Melanie South 4-6 4-6; Beat Surrey 2nd pair Olivia Berry/Katie Morris 2-6 6-2 6-4; Lost to Surrey 3rd pair Jodie Lawrence-Taylor/Camille Verden-Anderson 6-3 6-7 6-7
Warwickshire 2nd pair Soumeya Anane /Katie Malazonia lost to Surrey 1st pair 4-6 2-6; Beat Surrey 2nd pair 6-2 6-2; Lost to Surrey 3rd pair 2-6 4-6
Warwickshire 3nd pair Josie Williamson/ Holly Reid lost to Surrey 1st pair 1-6 2-6; Williamson/Reid lost to Surrey 2nd pair 2-6 3-6; Williamson/Sophia Mezzone lost to Surrey 3rd pair 2-6 2-6
Men’s Group 5 at West Worthing: Warwickshire beat West of Scotland 5-4.
Warks 1st pair Mason Recci/ Luke Hammond beat West of Scotland 1st pair
Scott Macaulay/Connor Thomson 4-6 7-5 6-2 beat W of Scotland 2nd pair
James Shemilt/Hamish Stewart 6-4 1-6 6-3 beat W of Scotland 3rd pair Robert Dalgetty/Harry Mouratidis 7-6 7-6