STRATFORD-upon-Avon players were on song as Warwickshire’s men’s and women’s tennis sides both made a flying start with hard-fought victories on day one of the prestigious summer Inter-County Cup Championship.
Katie Shaw’s women’s side made the perfect start in their bid to win promotion from Group 2 in Manchester as the combination of youth and experience helped them to a narrow 5-4 win against local rivals Leicestershire.
Warwickshire’s first pair, Coventry’s Natasha Hillyer and Summer Yardley from Solihull, were edged out by the powerful Leicestershire pair of Tabitha Holmes and Abigail Amos – losing 10-8 in a tiebreak decider.
However, the Warwickshire partnership made amends with a straight sets victory over the Leicestershire seconds which gave the Bears the final rubber they needed for a thrilling victory.
The seasoned Leyla Ogan, rackets manager of Edgbaston Priory Club and a former junior international, partnering the big-hitting youngster Tamara Malazonia from Birmingham won two out of three rubbers as second pair.
This included winning a tiebreak against their opposite numbers Emily and Helen Thorpe.
The scratch partnership of newcomers Lois Porter from Balsall Common and Madison Rumney at third pair were equally effective, winning two out of their three rubbers in straight sets.
Captain Shaw said: “I’m so proud of how the girls gave it their all in baking heat and against a well-balanced side.
“Natasha and Summer shrugged off their disappointment of coming so close against the first pair and came good when it mattered against the seconds.
“Leyla hadn’t played County Week for several years but she and Tamara showed terrific fighting spirit and a mixture of power and touch play to clinch two very good wins, as did our young third pair Madison and Lois.
“They really went for their shots and it’s given us all a huge morale boost to start with a win in what will be a really tough group.
“We now meet Middlesex who thrashed Gloucestershire 8-1, so we’ll be going all out to try to pull off a second upset.”
And Warwickshire Men secured an even more emphatic victory as they beat Nottinghamshire 7-2 to lead Group 4 at West Worthing.
Warwick Boat Club coach Cameron Malik, from Stratford-upon-Avon, and tour player Mason Recci from Solihull won three out of three at first pair while 18-year-old Harry Lazell from Warwick came in to partner Oliver Plaskett in the final two rounds, winning both rubbers.
Simon Ferguson and Alex Griffiths likewise won their two rubbers before captain Gavin Henderson, a senior coach at Warwick Boat Club swapped in the young Karan Tumblr to rest Ferguson.
Henderson said: “It was a terrific win. Our side is pretty depleted with several big names absent through tournament and coaching commitments, so for our mix of teenage rising stars and experienced older players to put in such a good team performance is really heartening.”
They now meet Somerset who lost to Durham and Cleveland in their opening match.
Inter-County Cup Women’s Group 2, Manchester
Warwickshire 5-4 Leicestershire
Inter-County Cup Men’s Group 4, West Worthing
Warwickshire 7-2 Nottinghamshire