Warsash lose out to Winchester in Solent Cup clash... Avenue Ladies edged

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Portsmouth League champions Warsash lost out to Winchester in a cracking Solent Cup final.

Many of the area’s top players were in action and a large crowd enjoyed some top tennis.

Warsash, last year’s winners and once again Portsmouth League champions, were defending their crown in a repeat of last year’s final against Winchester – the winners from Southampton.

Although the final score wasn’t close, as Winchester took the victory, it was very competitive, with the tennis on display of the highest quality.

Matt Pond and Jake Norris struck the first blow for Warsash with a well-deserved victory.

Having lost the first set through some nervy play, the tide turned for them when Pond played an outrageous hot-dog shot between his legs to win a point.

The momentum gained from that point alone carried the pair to victory in the second set and a comfortable match tie-break win to take the rubber.

In the meantime, on the adjacent court, Ian Udal and Martin Wilkinson were engaged in a titanic struggle with the Winchester second string.

Always behind, they never gave up fighting.

But with Wilkinson’s usually top volleying not at its best, and the opposition displaying remarkable dexterity and amazing hand control, they went down in two very close tie-break sets.

That left the match tied on rubbers, but with the hosts marginally ahead thanks to the extra set they had won.

The reverse rubbers started as a mirror image of the first round.

Pond and Norris went down 6-1 in the first set of theirs, while Udal and Wilkinson once again fought long and hard to take their first set to a tie break – only to lose the third one of the day.

By this time Pond and Norris were also giving their all and had closed the gap on their opponents to 5-5 in the second set.

But with Udal and Wilkinson losing their opening set, there was little chance of a win and Winchester went on to close out the match 3-1.

Meanwhile, the ladies’ competition saw a resurgent Avenue team, from Havant – winners of the Portsmouth League – take on holders Winchester, who had lifted the Southampton title.

Avenue started in style with Alice Robson and Katie Rowley inflicting a 6-0, 6-0 defeat on their opponents.

However, Winchester took the other rubber to leave the match finely tied at 1-1.

The reverse rubber, which pitched Robson and Rowley against the Winchester first pair, was expected to be close.

But a dip in form saw them lose 6-1, 6-0.

That meant Avenue’s second string of Sadia Meyer and Evie Howarth needed to win in straight sets for the loss of four games or less to win the match overall.

They took the first set by 6-2, before losing a couple of games early in the second set to put their nerves on edge.

A run of three games in a row took them to within a game of winning the cup.

But their hopes were flattened when Winchester came back with two successive games – enough to retain the trophy.

Avenue did then close out the set but they agonisingly lost the match overall by just a single game.

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