JEM take over top spot in a Portsmouth Tennis League table where six of the seven teams can STILL win the title

As the Portsmouth Summer Tennis League season moves into the final month, promotion and relegation battles get fiercer.

By Alan Best
Friday, 29th July 2022, 8:13 am

None more so than in ladies Division 2, where a backlog of fixtures means six of the seven teams can still win the title.

JEM Tennis moved into pole position with a 4-0 win over previously unbeaten Active Academy, with Avenue 3rds in close pursuit, although they were pushed all the way before securing a 3-1 win against rock bottom Warsash 3rds.

Avenue’s top pair, Sarah Long and Nicolette Lock, won both their rubbers in straight sets, but Denise Franks and Bridget McManus kept Warsash in the game with a three-set win over Avenue’s Vicky White and Sally-Ann Denton.

Lee 3rds v Avenue 3rds (from left): Wendy Hadfield, Jen Lake, Steph Evans, Marion White, Linda Wainwright, Heulwen Newman, Mary Robinson, Zoe Larkin

The latter pair then found themselves in another titanic struggle against Anni McCann and Sarah Gray, having to play three more sets before emerging as victors.

The ladies Division 3 match between leaders Stubbington and second-placed Rowlands Castle was expected to be another close one, but Castle hit top form - winning all four rubbers without even dropping a set.

Ladies Division 4 also saw a top of the table clash, Alverstoke breaking clear of a logjam of four teams on nine points thanks to a crucial tie break won by Sue Western and Nicky Heyworth against Gwen Isaacs and Cheryl Goater.

That tie break win enabled Alverstoke to claim a 3-1 victory, but both teams still have to play the third title contender, Lee 4ths, so the championship remains wide open.

Warsash Mixed Masters v Wellow Mixed Masters (from left) Rich Millard, John Moret, Elaine Pickering, Jeanette Martin, David Marsh, Karen Downie, Karen Kirwan, Michael Isaacs

At the other end of the table, Rowlands Castle 2nds defeated Denmead to end their first season of league tennis with a satisfactory return of three wins and three losses.

Ryde Mead edged past Avenue 3rds on sets countback, 5-4, having shared the rubbers in their Men’s 3 clash, while Rowlands Castle clocked up their most convincing result of the season - 4-0 over Southsea 2nds.

Wellow travelled to Warsash to play their midweek mixed masters Division 1 match knowing they had already secured the runners up position. But they would have been disappointed to return home with only one point from a losing draw.

The home team’s top doubles pair, Karen Kirwan and David Marsh, won their rubber with ease, but Wellow took the other mixed rubber, with equal ease.

The Warsash ladies then demolished the opposition pair and while Wellow’s men restored their team’s pride, Marsh and Michael Isaacs won enough games to ensure Warsash took the winning draw points.

Lee’s midweek ladies have found life very tough in the top division and, despite their best efforts, they could do nothing to stop Avenue clocking up another victory.

By contrast, newcomers Swanmore have found life in Division 2 much easier than expected, their 4-0 win over Avenue 2nds leaving them unbeaten.

And Rowlands Castle’s midweek ladies followed up the success of their weekend teams, sharing the rubbers and sets with Warsash, but claiming the winning draw points by just two games.

Chichester’s Rick Hellaby and Henry Thompson won a match tie break against Fishbourne’s Andre Rogers and Derek Norden to ease the Sussex team to a 3-1 win, posting a target for Avenue to beat if they are to claim the title.