But league organisers were hugely encouraged when entries for the full 2021/22 Winter League season closed and they found that some 127 teams had been entered - just three down from the pre-pandemic record.
Entries have been divided into leagues and, as a result, just short of 500 matches are scheduled to be played between 4 September and 31 March, writes ALAN BEST.
In the ‘restart’ league, Warsash ladies had an interesting double header against teams from the Avenue.
The first encounter saw them playing against Avenue 2nds with opening rubbers going with seeding, both top pairs easily overcoming the respective second ranked pairs.
The reverse rubbers were much closer. Avenue’s Leanne Stevenson and Debbie Berry just edged past Karen Kirwan and Mandy Dixon, via a third set tie break win, while Karen Downie and Helen Rawlins levelled by beating Jenny Smith and Julia Baker in straight sets.
And so, with the rubbers tied, the extra set won by Kirwan and Dixon proved vital and Warsash took the winning draw points 5-4 on sets.
The second match up saw three of the same four Warsash players up against Avenue’s first, and the extra class of the top team showed.
Mandy Richardson, again in the top pair but this time with Jan Grant, defeated the Avenue second pair, but the other three rubbers went to Avenue for the loss of just four games in six sets.
Avenue’s ladies 4ths visited Lee. The home team’s top pair, Deanna Tarrant and Wendy Hadfield, were too strong for both Avenue pairings and, although Sheila Drummond and Sally Barwood took the first set off Lee’s Jacqui Hyde and Sarah Pearse, that was as good as it got, Lee winning 4-0.
Chichester men’s 2nds were latecomers to the ‘restart’ league but they notched up another impressive win when they swept aside Warsash 3rds for the loss of just eight games.
Matt Worden and James Marks were particularly ruthless, conceding just one game in their four sets.
There was a similar one-sided encounter when Canoe Lake 4ths hosted Avenue 3rds. The latter’s David Spink and Brian Wiggins took a set off Lake’s Ozzy Glogic and Martin Jewell, to prevent a whitewash, but with Keith Evans and Terry Mellby in sparkling form Lake won 8-1 on sets.
Two midweek masters’ matches rounded up the weeks’ programme, Southsea winding up their ‘restart’ season with their final two games.
The first saw them go down to a strong Fishbourne team, who conceded just 12 games in eight sets.
The second match, against Carlton Green, was much closer. Ann Clark and Helen Shelton pushed Gwen Isaacs and Cheryl Goater all the way in the ladies v ladies rubber, but Carlton finished up taking all eight sets.