Promotion joy for Shropshire ladies in Aegon Winter County Cup as men's side narrowly miss out

Reporter:

Emily Davies

Shropshire’s ladies tennis team are celebrating promotion to Division Four in the Aegon Winter County Cup after making home advantage count at The Shrewsbury Club.

The county’s men’s team also impressed in Division 5A at Grantham Tennis Club as they narrowly missed out on making it back-to-back promotions by just a single rubber.

Holly Mowling, the ladies’ captain, was delighted with the efforts of her side as Shropshire won all three of their matches to top Group 5B.

Shropshire opened with a 7-2 victory over West of Scotland and then got the better of Hereford and Worcester by the same margin before sealing promotion with a 5-4 verdict on the final day against Gloucestershire.

Mowling said: “The team were unbeaten over the three days and we’re really pleased to have gained promotion to Division Four for next year.

“We have not been as high since I’ve been captain for the last eight years - and I’m not sure if the ladies have ever been so high in the winter tournament.

“We reached division four in the Summer Cup once, but that was 13 years ago. This is a great achievement for the team.”

Mowling led by example as she won all three of her singles matches, with teammates Chloe Hughes, from Bettisfield, and Jo Bowen doing the same.

Lauren McMinn and Melissa Martin were victorious twice while there was also a singles triumph for Sue Dunn.

In the doubles, Mowling teamed up with Jo Fowler and then Cheryl Evans for wins. The pairings of Bowen and McMinn together with Hughes and Martin also tasted victory in the doubles.

Mowling added: “It was an all round fantastic team performance and a hard-fought weekend. The team put in some truly gritty performances to win key matches over the three days.”

Shropshire’s men’s team made the journey to Lincolnshire for their group games - and headed home from Grantham reflecting on what might have been after missing out on promotion by the narrowest of margins.

Shropshire were edged out 5-4 in their two opening matches by Northamptonshire and Leicestershire, the eventual winners, before signing off with a resounding 9-0 beating of Oxfordshire.

Captain Alex Parry and his team, promoted from Division Six at Newport in South Wales 12 months earlier, finished as group runners-up and will be in Division 5A once again next year.

Parry said: “It’s an outstanding achievement to just stay where we are. I don’t know whether the men have ever stayed up before after sealing promotion the year previously. To only be one point away from gaining promotion to division four, and with a young team, is a good effort.

“It came down to just one rubber in the end. If we had managed to get that against Northamptonshire or Leicestershire during the first two days, we would have been looking at promotion to division four.

“The standard is so high and the teams so closely matched. I believe we were the strongest team at Grantham in the singles. Maybe we still need some more doubles experience, but without playing these matches you are not going to get that. It certainly all bodes well for the future.”

Parry, Matt Lee, from Criftins, and Ed Gibbs won all three of their singles matches, with two victories for Sam Chapman, from Oswestry, and one apiece for Hugh Jaques and debutant Tom Loxley.

There were also final-day doubles triumphs against Oxfordshire for Gibbs and Luke Henley, Lee and Parry, and Chapman and Ian Gillespie.

Shropshire will now look forward to competing in the 2018 Aegon Summer Cup between July 23-27, with the ladies in Group Five and the men in Group Seven.

Email:

emily.davies@nwn.co.uk

See full story in the Whitchurch Herald

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