Stratford players star for Warwickshire at Inter-County Week
STRATFORD players produced some stand-out performances, as both Warwickshire tennis sides finished third in their respective groups at Inter-County Week, finishing just outside the promotion places, reports Sally Bliss.
For the newly-promoted men’s team, in Group Four at Felixstowe, Stratford-based Cameron Malik was the consistent super-sub, brought in at third pair to partner Simon Ferguson after the opening round of rubbers on the first few days and they beat their opposite numbers each time.
They staged the upset of the week on day two when they held their nerve against the Berkshire first pair of 2016 Wimbledon hero Marcus Willis and Robbie Ridout, reaching set-all and then taking the rubber 14-12 after a marathon championship tie-break decider.
This contributed to the Bears’ 7-2 victory over Berkshire following their opening day’s 8-1 drubbing of North Wales.
Stratford’s Luke Hammond was also on-song on the first two days at second pair with Jake Hersey, winning five out of six rubbers and losing only to Willis and Ridout.
The whole side struggled later in the week against West of Scotland and hot favourites North of Scotland who were fielding doubles specialist Jonny O’Mara. A 6-3 defeat to West of Scotland on the final day ended Warwickshire’s promotion hopes.
Meanwhile, former Stratford coach Natasha Hillyer and Summer Yardley looked calm and content at first pair for the Warwickshire women’s young side, which had been relegated to Group Two at Cheltenham.
After close defeats to Northumberland and Kent on the first two days, each hinging on a sudden death championship tie-break, relegation looked a strong possibility for the Bears.
However, Hillyer and Yardley won two crucial rubbers against Lancashire and Nottinghamshire tipped the balance, ensuring the tightest of 5-4 victories against both sides.
Although Warwickshire lost to Essex on the final day, they were already certain of avoiding the drop.