Title race wide open

Lee 4's Patsy Scarborough, Wendy Hadfield, Jacqui Hyde and Sheila Harries suffered defeat at the hands of Avenue 4

Lee 4's Patsy Scarborough, Wendy Hadfield, Jacqui Hyde and Sheila Harries suffered defeat at the hands of Avenue 4

John Taylor competing in the Portsmouth event last year. Picture Ian Hargreaves (160333-4)

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The Portsmouth LTA ladies’ leagues enhanced their reputation for highly-competitive tennis last weekend.

Six of the seven match-ups played finished with the rubbers shared at 2-2 and the matches being decided on countback of sets, or even games, won.

The second-tier clash between Lee 2 and Avenue 2 typified the results.

Lee’s first pairing of Tiffany Dinsdale and Carol Tipton won both their rubbers, each after sharing the sets and winning the subsequent champions tie-breaks.

However, the two sets won by Avenue gave them an advantage and, despite their best efforts, Barbara Wilkie and Alison Grant – Lee’s second pair – couldn’t manage to take a set off either of their opponents, allowing the away side to claim the match by six sets to four.

The result means that division two is now wide open, with just three points separating the top-five teams.

The championship battle in division three also opened up after Seacourt 2 climbed to the top by snatching a narrow one-set victory over previous leaders PTA.

The ever-reliable Viola Masona and Debbie Berry won both their rubbers for PTA – but, crucially, they dropped a set to Lou Green and Linda Medlow.

Both Seacourt pairings were able to beat PTA’s second string in straight sets so that the set taken off Masona and Berry was enough to clinch the win.

In the same division, Southsea 1 and Warsash 3 opened up the relegation debate to all the other teams.

Southsea followed up their win last week with another one – this time against Avenue 3, and again by a single set in nine.

Meanwhile, Warsash 3 gave themselves a chance of avoiding the drop when they came back from losing the first two rubbers against Rowlands Castle to claim a six-sets-to-four win.

The only one-sided ladies match saw Seacourt 3 overcome Chichester 2 4-0.

But even this match featured two match tie-breaks.

JEM Hamble continue to run away with ladies’ division five, recording their seventh win in succession – but Alverstoke 2 made them fight hard for the points.

The deciding factor was the set that Saskia Vrolyk and Florence Gimonet managed to wrestle off Jan Norman and Jane Payne – just enough for a five-sets-to-four win.

With everyone else in the division being left to fight for second place, Avenue 4 did themselves no harm when they edged past Lee 4 by the same 5/4 scoreline. The decisive set was this time won by Imogen Karas and teenager Ella Tusler.

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