Newly promoted Warwickshire Men’s tennis side look set for their first victory of the week after taking a commanding 4-2 lead against North of Scotland on a rain-affected second day of the AEGON Summer County Cup at Eastbourne.
Despite a whitewash by Hertfordshire the previous day, Gary Naughton’s young side came out all guns blazing, and the only rubbers they lost were to the Scots’ first pair, the hard-hitting James Pankhurst and Keith Weir.
The Midlanders’ third pairing of James Southwood and Nathan Rooney were the stars of the show, winning both their rubbers, and thrashing the second pair James Barnett and Steven Birrell for the loss of only three games.
At first pair Maniel Bains, despite a disappointing showing on the opening day, looked far sharper as he and the consistent Steven Lee also beat the seconds in straight sets and with only the thirds left to play should provide the crucial rubber that Warwickshire need to ensure victory and keep alive their hopes of survival in a notoriously competitive Group One.
Once the final three rubbers have been played, they will take on Yorkshire in what promises to be a long, exhausting day’s tennis, weather permitting.
It was a very different story for reigning champions Warwickshire Women, missing several of the stars who helped lift the trophy last year, including Hannah Grady and Louise Latimer.
After a 7-2 loss to Herts on the opening day, they were trailing the powerful Surrey team 4-2 when rain washed out play for the night, and will need a near-miracle to pull off the three straight wins they need in the remaining rubbers to record their first victory of the week.
With several inexperienced youngsters in the side including 15-year-old Manisha Foster and singles specialist Aimee Jarrett, who struggled at third pair, captain Katie Shaw always knew that this week would prove a tough test, and she is now focusing more on survival than on any chance of retaining the title her team has won three out of the last four years.
Men’s Event – Warwickshire lead North of Scotland 4-2 (Warwicks names first)
First pair: M Bains/S Lee lost to J Pankhurst/K Weir 4-6 3-6
bt J Barnett/S Birrell 6-4 6-3
Second pair: N Goldsby/A Fitzpatrick lost to J Pankhurst/K Weir 4-6 7-6 3-6
bt M Fleming/O Hadden 7-6 6-4
Third pair: J Southwood/N Rooney bt J Barnett/S Birrell 6-1 6-2
bt M Fleming/O Hadden 3-6 6-1 6-1
Women’s Event – Warwickshire trail Surrey 2-4.