WARWICKSHIRE men’s and women’s sides each pulled off resounding 7-2 victories on Day Three of the Aegon Inter-County Cup, writes Sally Jones.
Captain Katie Shaw’s canny change of pairings paid dividends as her young side, missing several big-name players, thrashed fellow-strugglers Essex to keep alive their hopes of avoiding relegation from the elite Group One at Eastbourne.
Men’s captain Gavin Henderson also shook up his partnerships to keep his pumped-up side on course for promotion from Group Four at Worthing, with an accomplished drubbing of Durham and Cleveland.
The women’s new third pair, Blossomfield’s Josie Williamson, 23 and big-hitting Lilly Mould, 17, the former British Junior champion, proved a revelation, feeding off one another’s energy as they served and volleyed their way to straight sets victory over former British number 1 Amanda Wainwright and Annall Olivell.
They then demolished the Essex thirds and only narrowly lost to the first pair.
Debutante Kara Biggs, from Leamington, and Katie Malazonia, from Edgbaston, battled to beat Wainwright and Olivell from a set down, then dropped just one game to the thirds.
Coventry stars Natasha Hillyer, the former Stratford coach, and Soumeya Anane fought back with typical grit to win three out of three as first pair after a slow start.
With Essex virtually assured of relegation, the Midlanders who lost their opening two matches, will need a substantial victory today (Thursday) over Yorkshire to give themselves the chance of staying up in Group One.
“I’m so proud of how all the girls played today,” said former British international Shaw, celebrating her 20th year as county captain.
“Lilly and Josie jelled immediately first time out and Tash and Soumeya who have played doubles together for years never got rattled when their opponents took an early lead but worked their way back into contention.
“Kara and Katie combined well despite never playing together before, Katie hitting great groundstrokes and Kara putting away her smashes and volleys at the net. Now we must beat Yorkshire – but this gives us a chance of staying up.”
Warwickshire men’s lower pairings again proved the heroes of the hour with Stratford players Cameron Malik and Luke Hammond taking starring roles.
Playing as the Warwickshire third pair, they won three out of three and dismissing the otherwise unbeaten Durham firsts in straight sets.
Sutton Coldfield stars Max Stewart and Oliver Nolan won two out of three, as did the Warwickshire firsts, after Stratford’s Oliver Plaskett had been paired with big-serving Richard Partridge who replaced Mason Recci.
Warwickshire head the group and meet fith-placed Wiltshire today.
AEGON INTER-COUNTY CUP
Results, Day Three
Group One Women’s Championship at Eastbourne: Warwickshire beat Essex 7-2.
Warwickshire 1st pair Natasha Hillyer/Soumeya Anane beat Essex 1st pair Aimee Gibson/Olivia Sofroniou 7-6 6-0; bt Essex 2nd pair Annall Olivell/ Amanda Wainwright 6-2 6-2; beat Essex 3rd pair Lucy Dawson/ Deniz Soyer 6-4 6-2
Warwickshire 2nd pair Kara Biggs/Katie Malazonia lost to Essex1st pair 6-4 4-6 3-6; beat Essex 2nd pair 4-6 6-2 6-0; beat Essex 3rd pair 6-1 6-0.
Warwickshire 3nd pair Josie Williamson/Lilly Mould lost to Essex 1st pair 4-6 4-6; beat Essex 2nd pair 6-3 6-3; beat Essex 3rd pair 6-1 6-4.
Men’s Group Five at West Worthing: Warwickshire beat Durham and Cleveland 7-2.
Warwickshire 1st pair Mason Recci/Oliver Plaskett lost to Durham and Cleveland 1st pair Matthew Hollingsworth/Luke Laws 6-4 3-6 2-6; beat Durham and Cleveland 2nd pair Daniel Bennett/ Adam Barratclough 6-4 6-2
Richard Partridge/Oliver Plaskett beat Durham and Cleveland 3rd pair Samuel Archer/Callum Todd 7-6 6-7 6-2.
Warks 2nd pair Max Stewart/ Oliver Nolan lost to Durham and Cleveland1st pair 5-7 4-6; beat Durham and Cleveland 2nd pair 6-4 6-4; beat Durham and Cleveland 3rd pair 6-2 6-4.
Warks 3rd pair Luke Hammond/Cameron Malik bt Durham and Cleveland 1st pair 6-3 6-4; beat Durham and Cleveland 2nd pair 6-1 6-4; beat Durham and Cleveland 3rd pair Sean Galpin Callum Todd 6-3 6-2.