After a six-month wait, Bettina gets the Portsmouth Tennis League season back underway again as Sarisbury beat Avenue

At 10.10am on Saturday, September 26, Bettina Harvey hit the first ball in a Portsmouth Tennis League match for six months.

Friday, 2nd October 2020, 10:05 am
Rowlands Castle and Wickham players prior to their Portsmouth League game

Just over two hours later, she hit a winning volley to clinch victory for Sarisbury Green against Avenue Ladies 4, and the new ‘makeshift’ winter season was underway.

A last-minute scare, when Prime Minister Boris Johnson announced his ‘rule of six’, was overcome thanks to the LTA’s announcement that organised outdoor tennis was exempt from that rule - provided it was played in a Covid-secure environment.

So, with hand sanitizer everywhere and racquet touching replacing handshaking – and the sun breaking through to celebrate the restart – the league was underway.

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Harvey and partner Cheryl Goater won both their rubbers for Sarisbury.

Avenue won both the rubbers against Sarisbury’s second pair, Penny Redwood and Mary Colquhoun, but the duo won enough games to secure a winning draw for Sarisbury.

The rubbers were also shared 2-2between Lee 4 and Stubbington. Three of the four rubbers went to match tie breaks, Lee taking two of them.

But Stubbington’s Elaine Reed and Karen McCulloch won both their rubbers, the second one in straight sets, and that gave their team the winning draw points by 6 sets to 5.

The ladies match between Wickham and Rowlands Castle was the only one with a clear win, Castle taking it 3-1.

It was very close, though, Maggie Allan and Annette McHugh pushing Castle’s top pair to 6-7 in the first set.

A quirk of the fixture list meant that Castle and Wickham faced off again the next day, but this time at Rowlands and in the Mixed League.

Castle fielded two of the four ladies who had played the previous day and, once again, they came out on top, Castle winning all four rubbers.

Wickham’s only success was a set won by Janet Eade and Ian Farley against Paul Roux and Lynne Foster.

Alverstoke have entered two teams in the Winter League and, with a limited number of entries, both are playing in the same division.

Unsurprisingly, the higher ranked team won their encounter at the weekend. But it was by no means straightforward, the rubber between first pairs Laura Pritchard/Gordon Guttridge and Tracey Lazenbury/Alex Bingham going to a match tie break.

In addition, two of the other rubbers featured tie break sets.

The final two Mixed League matches suggested that reduced participation numbers has not affected competitiveness, as both ended 2-2.

Carlton Green hosted Southsea, with Cheryl Goater and Russell Lewis winning both their rubbers for the home team.

Southsea claimed both the rubbers involving Carlton’s second pair, but Steph and Paul Martin won a set in their losing rubber against Helen Shelton and John Kemble - and that was enough to give them the winning draw points.

The match between Avenue 3 and Warsash followed a similar pattern, Warsash’s Jackie Gregory and John Tims winning both their rubbers with second pair Jan Grant and Stephen Carden-Noad not quite able to back them up.

And with Ella Tusler and Neil Tigg taking a set off Gregory and Tims, Avenue claimed the winning draw points.

There are only four teams entered into the Men’s midweek competition, who will play each other home and away twice during the season.

So, with lots of matches to fit in, Avenue and Canoe Lake made an early start.

Lake took both rubbers in the first round, though Rob Mort and Maurice Young showed signs of resistance by taking a set off Lake’s second pair.

But the reverse rubbers saw Avenue take control and, after a tight first set in the 2’s v 2’s rubber, Avenue claimed both to claim the winning draw by 5 sets to 4.