A fine performance and result on the final day meant Shropshire’s ladies stayed in the same division in the Lawn Tennis Association’s Winter County Cup.
The Shropshire’s men’s team also played some excellent tennis throughout all three days as they were so unfortunate to be relegated after being narrowly edged out 5-4 in all three matches.
Both Shropshire sides, having had to travel long distances to play in the LTA Summer County Cup earlier this year, were this time based much closer to home, with the ladies at The Shrewsbury Club and the men at Ellesmere College.
Shropshire’s ladies, with captain Holly Mowling leading a team also featuring Hanna Cadwallader, Chloe Hughes, Cheryl Evans, Lauren McMinn, Imani Shah, Tamzin Pountney and Clara Hill, started with a 6-3 defeat against Suffolk, before losing 8-1 to North of Scotland the following day.
That meant they knew they had to win their final match to remain in Group 5B – and they delivered in style by enjoying an impressive 6-2 victory over Wiltshire.
Reflecting on her side’s efforts during a busy three days, Shropshire captain Holly said: “Eventual group winners Suffolk were a very strong side and had depth throughout their side. We put up a good fight losing 6-3 with Chloe Hughes and Tamzin Pountney coming away with good singles wins.
“On day two we faced North of Scotland who we knew were also a tough side. We lost 8-1 but the overall score doesn’t reflect how close some of the matches were. Our only win came from Imani Shah after a hard-fought game.
“We knew we had to beat Wiltshire on the final day to secure our place in the division for next year. It was a very tense day with all the matches being so close and most of them were well over two hours.
“Cheryl Evans and Tamzin Pountney got us off to a great start, both winning in three sets against much higher ranked players and playing some fantastic tennis.
“Tamzin was on court for 3 hours and 15 minutes, so that was a huge win for her and for the team.
“Hanna Cadwallader then followed suit, coming away with another victory, while Cheryl and Imani won their doubles. Chloe Hughes sealed victory after a massive comeback in the third set against a very tricky opponent.
“This meant we stayed in the division and finished third overall.
“Our goal at the start of the weekend was to remain in the division, particularly after seeing the standard of the players on day one.
“It was a massive team effort and we had great team spirit over the weekend. It’s great to see the youngsters progressing so well as they are the future of this team. We now look forward to the Summer County Cup event.”
Shropshire men’s team, meanwhile, were left reflecting on what might have been as they were unfortunate to finish bottom of the Group 4B table.
Twelve months on from achieving promotion, Shropshire were edged out 5-4 in all three of their group matches by Cambridgeshire, Somerset and eventually North Wales.
Men’s captain Alex Parry, who led a Shropshire team which also included Mo Morsi, Luke Henley, Matthew Jones, Matt Lee, Ed Gibbs and Tom Loxley, said: “To battle against counties like Cambridgeshire, who were in division one of the Summer County Cup, and Somerset, who have numerous world ranked players to call upon, to come so close against those counties on the first two days and have sniffs of winning both ties is credit to the team.
“We had a key injury on day one to Mo Morsi, but for the guys to rally and do what they did is credit to them really – and there were some really good performances.
“We were 4-2 ahead against North Wales after the singles on the final day, but then it all came down to the doubles. We were 7-4 up in the final 10-point tie-break doubles and unfortunately lost it 11-9, so it came down to two points.
“This result won’t define who we are as a team and we will bounce back.
“There’s a group of players who are young enough, especially with a couple more coming up as well, that will bounce back and we hope to be back in division four after next winter.
“I’m immensely proud of the team and there’s a good bunch of lads that will stick together.”