The team finished 6th (out of 8) and will remain in Division 3 for next season.
The 2nd team this year was represented by:
Men: Henry Jones, Joe Honeybone, Jon Horsfield, James Read (Captain), Adam Watts, with Dom Jones and Gav Townley filling in as substitutes on the final weekend
Ladies: Emily Witham, Mandy Joiner, Joanna Gresty, Vivi Jennings-Trace, Ceri Evans, with Matilda Tierney and Isla Townley joining the team on the final weekend.
Report: If last year was anything to go by – this year was going to be a division split by the smallest of margins. The first weekend played out as if it was an extension of last season – a 6-5 win over Dorset, and a 6-5 loss against Somerset – nothing to split the field, just a good set of competitive matches. Particular credit to Vivi Jennings-trace who won her first senior county singles match, and a marked overall improvement in singles for the team, as we took all 3 men’s matches against Somerset. At 5-5, an unfortunate knee injury sustained by Mandy Joiner resulted in a walkover for Somerset – in what would have otherwise been a competitive and winnable match
The 2nd weekend saw a heavier defeat against a strong Worcestershire side (3-8), but continued to show promise amongst the juniors, with Vivi once again winning her singles, and Ceri Evans winning a hard fought 3-ended ladies doubles, partnered with the experienced Emily Prankard. A strong performance by Adam Watts helped us pinch a point in the doubles. A subsequent close 6-5 loss to Cornwall pushed us the wrong direction down the table, but underlined the strength and consistency across men’s doubles, and mixed pairs. Notable mention goes to Henry Jones who was drafted in to play all 3 events, due to several injuries among the senior players – winning both the doubles and mixed.
After being competitive across the first 4 matches, it was a stark situation finding ourselves at the bottom of the table going into the final weekend. The first match was against an almost unrecognisable Avon 3rd team, who were clearly on a mission to seek promotion and had fielded a near-unbeatable team. The resulting 11-0 defeat was still however a shock and disappointment, and we assumed had sealed our fate in the battle for relegation. HOWEVER…. A strong showing and a 6-5 win against Hampshire, leaving just 3 points between the bottom 3 gave us hope. With credit to Joe Honeybone and Gav Townley for taking impressive singles wins, and to Joanna Gresty and Mandy Joiner, who once again proved they are a formidable pairing in the ladies doubles. Myself and Isla sealed the final mixed match to take the win.
Going into the final match, we needed to pick up 8 points against Guernsey, and hope that Hampshire took no more than 5 against Avon. Thankfully Guernsey were travelling with a diminished team due to their key players playing in the Commonwealth games. We capitalised on this early, with both Jon Horsefield, Dom Jones and Matilda Tierney taking critical early singles matches. Myself and Adam, Joe and Jon, & Mandy and Joanna continued the run taking 3 out of the following 4 doubles, with Joe and Emily sealing the 8 points we needed in the final mixed.
All that was left was to check the Hampshire-Avon score. To our delight Avon were giving a Hampshire a real thumping, which meant we just had to check if we’d done the maths right. Lacking the qualified oversight of our in-house mathematician Henry Jones, we all gathered around a calculator and nodded at each other enthusiastically, coming to the conclusion that we had indeed spared ourselves from relegation, and achieved what had appeared to be the impossible! Whilst we can’t be happy that our battle played out for us at the bottom of the table – we can be heartened and proud that we overcame adversity, performed superbly as a team and won the battle for survival!