THE FINAL week of the Wildmoor Spa Tennis League settled all promotion and relegation issues.
In the Premier Division Stratford celebrated their 12th consecutive league championship with a superb 4-0 win over mid-table Henley-in-Arden which gave Stratford the title by a record 19-point margin.
Evesham confirmed their position as runners-up by drawing 2-2 with Littleton to finish with 34 points, four above Ardencote Manor. The latter drew 2-2 with Alcester in their last match to finish fourth, four points ahead of them.
The two relegated teams Claverdon and Inkberrow drew 2-2 and completed their campaigns on 19 and 17 points respectively.
Triumphant Stratford captain Tim Page with Simon West beat Sam Turner and Bett Mackay (Henley) 6-2, 6-4 and beat Matt Williams and Max Retallack (Henley) 6-1, 6-3. Callum Bailey and Will Morley-Cotterall (Stratford) beat Williams and Retallack 6-3, 6-2 and beat Turner and Mackay 6-2, 6-3.
Littleton managed to hold runners-up Evesham to a 2-2 draw and in doing so guaranteed safety from relegation but by only two points. Dave Rudge and Sean Witheford (Littleton) edged out Chris Francis and John Clarke (Evesham) in a close match 6-2, 2-6, 1-0 (10-8) after a championship tie-break. They then beat Simon Wall and Paul Everett (Evesham) 6-3, 6-2.
On the other court Simon Blewitt and Chris Elliott lost to Wall and Everett 3-6, 3-6 and were unlucky in going down to Rudge and Witheford 7-5, 2-6, 0-1 (5-10) on a tie-break.
Ardencote Manor and Alcester determined their third and fourth places respectively with this 2-2 draw. Stuart Beach and Chris Havard (Alcester) beat Christian Hardy and Myles Wilcox-Smith (Ardencote) 6-3, 6-4 and beat Ben Summers and Richard Lucas (Ardencote) 7-5, 6-1.
Tim Kenneally and Andy Wijnberg (Alcester) lost to Summers and Lucas 2-6, 2-6 and lost to Hardy and Wilcox-Smith 1-6, 1-6.
In the final Premier Division fixture of the season the two relegated teams met in a 2-2 draw. Graeme Rankin and Matt Saunders (Inkberrow) beat Richard Butler and Pete Thomas (Claverdon) 6-4, 6-4 and beat Andy Ashley and Carsten Astheimer (Claverdon) 6-4, 6-1.
Jack Richardson and Gordon Keir (Inkberrow) lost to Ashley and Astheimer 3-6, 6-4, 0-1 and lost to Rankin and Saunders 5-7, 3-6.
In Division One Studley A had already been crowned champions with 31 points and relaxed into a final match 2-2 draw with mid-table Snitterfield. Studley B and Pershore had finished their fixtures and battle for promotion in second place the previous week which had seen Studley B join their sister side in promotion to the Premier Division, scoring a total of 21 points, ten less than Studley A, but importantly one more than rivals Pershore.
The other fixture was of vital importance between relegation candidates Aston Cantlow and Shipston-on-Stour. At the start of the match Cantlow were two points ahead of Shipston so the latter needed a victory. However, it was Cantlow who claimed the victory 3-1 and doomed Shipston to the drop.
Moreton-in-Marsh A could finally claim the crown as Division Two champions after their 3-1 victory away to Alcester B. They had led Whitnash by only two points going into this match but their victory, along with a surprising 4-0 loss by Whitnash to mid-table HDA A Redditch, gave them the title, finishing with 35 points.
Fortunately for Whitnash, the Leamington side had already qualified for promotion with 30 points, four clear of Stratford B in third and five clear of HDA B in fourth.
Bidford-on-Avon A pulled clear of relegation worries by beating bottom side Claverdon B 3-1 and the latter are relegated along with Alcester B to Division Three.
Division Three had completed their fixtures the previous week with Ardencote Manor B as divisional champions with 31 points and Inkberrow B joining them in promotion with 21 points, just edging out unfortunate FISSC – who had the same number of points – on sets difference.
Relegated are Ilmington and Chipping Campden B with only 13 points each.
Division Four (alongside Division Five) had the closest title race of all. Alcester C were leaders by one point going into the final round of league matches.
However, Henley B enjoyed a convincing 4-0 victory over bottom team Chipping Campden C while Alcester C could only muster a 3-1 defeat of mid-table Claverdon C. This left them both on 32 points and on countback Henley B had a one set better sets difference than Alcester C who therefore had to settle for promotion to Division Three next year and no title.
Studley C beat Littleton B 3-1 and in doing so ended what little hope the Littleton B side had of avoiding relegation alongside Campden C.
Division Five had another nail-biting finish at the top between Pershore B and HDA B Redditch. Both managed 4-0 victories in their last matches – Pershore B over Wildmoor B and HDA A over Inkberrow D – and this left them both on 39 points, ten clear of the field.
Incredibly, as in Division Four, Pershore B had just a single set better sets difference than HDA B and so pipped the Redditch side to the Division Five title so that HDA had to settle merely for promotion.
The final fixture saw mid-tables sides Moreton-in-Marsh B and Inkberrow C draw 2-2.