Shropshire’s men’s tennis team impressed as they won Group 5A of the LTA’s Winter County Cup – with the team’s players dedicating gaining promotion to Bob Kerr.
Shropshire won all three of their fixtures against Avon, Northumberland and Oxfordshire at The Shrewsbury Club to ensure they will be playing in a higher division next year.
Bob, who was a very popular figure in Shropshire tennis, so sadly passed away the previous weekend.
As LTA councillor for Shropshire and a former chair of Tennis Shropshire, Bob always gave such excellent support to the county’s tennis teams.
Alex Parry, the captain of Shropshire’s men’s team, said Bob was hugely respected by the Shropshire players.
Alex said: “He was hugely respected within the team and kept a close eye on how we were getting on over the years.
“All of the guys would like to dedicate this win to Bob and his family at this difficult time.”
Alex led a Shropshire team which also featured Sam Chapman, Ed Gibbs, Luke Henley, Matt Jones, Matt Lee, Tom Loxley and Mo Morsi.
The county were without Roan Jones, who played in the Wimbledon Junior Championships earlier this year, as he is currently taking part in ITF tournaments in Tunisia.
Shropshire opened with a 6-3 victory over a strong Avon side, with five of the nine matches going to three tight sets.
Matt Lee produced the comeback of the day to win his singles match 2-6, 7-5, 6-4, after being 5-2 down in the second set.
Northumberland provided the second day opposition, with Shropshire winning four of the first six singles matches, including excellent performances from Matt Jones and Sam Chapman, in front of the home crowd.
Shropshire eventually prevailed 7-2, claiming all three doubles victories.
Shropshire knew five wins on the final day against Oxfordshire would secure promotion. The intent was there right from the start with Alex Parry, Matt Jones and Tom Loxley all making light work of their opposition.
Oxfordshire responded with a win for Aiden Casey, but Mo Morsi then won for Shropshire before another victory from Luke Henley sealed promotion for the county.
Team captain Alex added: “It’s a fantastic result and an excellent all-round squad performance across the weekend.
“After getting relegated prior to the Covid-19 pandemic, for the team to bounce back instantly to division four is a great achievement.
“I truly believe that this squad of players is one of the strongest the county has ever produced and let’s see how far we can go.”
Shropshire’s ladies team, meanwhile, were also based in the county as their matches in Ladies Group 5A of the Winter County Cup were played at Ellesmere College.
With an eye to the future, Shropshire included two youngsters in their team, Imani Shah, who was making her senior county debut, and Tamzin Pountney, and they both did well.
Captain Holly Mowling hopes they will now go on to enjoy long careers playing for Shropshire.
She said: “Imani Shah made her senior county debut and performed brilliantly. She showed grit and determination throughout the weekend.
“Alongside Tamzin Pountney, the two girls are the future of this ladies team and will be playing for many years to come.
“Myself and Natalie Freegard started in this team at the age of 14 and have both now represented the ladies Shropshire county team for 25 years, so I hope the girls will follow in our footsteps.
“We now have a great mix of youth and experience in our squad and we will look forward to next year’s events.”
Shropshire enjoyed an impressive start to the weekend as they beat Bedfordshire 7-2.
The county, whose team also included Chloe Hughes, Hanna Cadwallader, and Cheryl Evans, then lost by the same scoreline by North Wales, before being given a walkover on the final day.
Shropshire finished runners-up in their group behind table-toppers North Wales.
Tennis Shropshire chair Simon Jones watched both Shropshire teams over the weekend and congratulated them on their performance level.
He said: “The men’s team went into Sunday knowing what they needed to do to win the group and wanted to make sure they did it for Bob.
“The camaraderie of both the men’s and ladies teams was just fantastic.
“The ladies played well to beat Bedfordshire and then had a difficult match against a very good North Wales team, but they held their own and applied themselves well.
“Both teams were, as always, a total credit in representing the county.”