Chichester closing in on Portsmouth & District Tennis League ladies title in season than began 11 months ago

The weather was once again the major winner last weekend, with just one match surviving the wind and rain in the Portsmouth & District ‘restart’ tennis league.

Thursday, 12th August 2021, 12:53 pm
Chichester v Avenue 3rds, ladies. Back (Chichester, from left): Heidi Johnson, Catherine Hutchins, Sue Foott, Suzanna Troy. Front (Avenue): Sally Anne Denton, Becky Howarth, Nicole Lock, Sarah Long

Chichester ladies fielded one of their strongest teams of the season to take on Avenue 3rds and, unsurprisingly, came away as comfortable 4-0 winners, writes ALAN BEST.

Avenue’s top pair, Nicolette Lock and Sarah Long, did very well to hold Sue Foott and Heidi Johnson to a 6-4 6-3 scoreline, but Sally Ann Denton and Becky Howarth struggled to match the extra firepower of Foot and Johnson and Chichester’s second pair Suzanna Troy and Catherin Hutchins.

Chichester now lead the table and need only a point from their last match to clinch the title in a pandemic-interrupted season that started some 11 months ago!

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Fortunately, the weather relented to allow the midweek fixtures to go ahead.

David Lloyd West End (DLWE) took advantage of the better conditions to edge past their closest rivals, Avenue 1sts, to claim the mixed divisional title.

DWLE’s top pair of Suzanne and Kevin Peat showed they meant business with a 6-0 6-0 whitewash of George Bentley and Denise Simper. But Neil Crawford and Becky Howarth hit back for Avenue, winning their rubber against Fi Farley and Seamus Cruise 7-6, 6-2.

The match could have gone either way, but the DWLE ladies teamed up to record a comfortable 6-1 6-2 victory before the four men produced a classic scrap.

Peat and Cruise took the first set before Crawford and Bentley struck back. A tie break victory for the latter pair would have levelled the match and given Avenue a share of the points, but Peat and Cruise scraped home by the narrowest of margins.

Avenue’s second midweek mixed team were also in action, and with a backlog of fixtures to work through they played two matches in successive days.

They triumphed at Fishbourne in the first one, though not without a struggle. Caron Howe and Graham Cotterill were forced to win a match tie break to overcome Katie Bracher and Luke McEwan, Dawn Wears and Mark Fullstone having already given Avenue the lead with a straight sets win over Nikki Holden and Mike Hall.

Howe and Wears then teamed up to clinch the match for Avenue with another straight sets rubber win before McEwan and Hall Hall regained some pride for Fishbourne by taking the men v men rubber after a match tie break.

The same four Avenue players then turned out the next day, this time against Carlton Green.

In another close contest, Bettina Harvey and Chris Weatherill beat Howe and Cotterill after a match tie break, while Cheryl Goater and Gary Colmer eased past Wears and Fullstone 7-6 6-4.

But by now the effects of two matches in two days were beginning to catch up with the Avenue players.

The ladies v ladies and men v men rubbers both went in favour of the home team, giving Carlton a 4-0 win which looked more comfortable than it really was.

Avenue, Carlton and Fishbourne are now all level on nine points. And as they have to play each other once more before the season’s end, there is still all to play for!