Rowlands Castle have been relegated from Portsmouth League ladies’ division two despite a brave effort to beat the drop, writes Alan Best.
They managed to win two of the three sets they needed against Portsmouth Tennis Academy (PTA) to keep their hopes alive.
Caron Howe and Liz Marenghi set the ball rolling with a 6-2, 6-4 win over PTA’s second pair, Caroline Hardy and Claire Keiditsch.
And this was backed up by Nicky Baker and Jane Mellor, playing in their first league match, who also beat Hardy and Keiditsch 6-3, 6-4.
But Karen Claeys and Alzbeta Kucerova proved too strong for both Castle pairs and PTA took the winning draw to seal their safety and condemn Castle to the drop.
Wickham finally broke Stubbington’s unbeaten run in division three. Stubbington led by one game at halfway. Then Wickham duo Rona Thurston and Kathryn Morton sealed a straight-sets win.
That meant Jean Carty and Maureen Parker had to win the last match-up to claim a draw – and most likely the championship.
They lost the first set 6-1 and looked down and out before sweeping back to win the second 6-3.
The final set went to a tie-break at 6-6 where the lead changed hands several times.
In the end, Wickham’s Carol Duckworth and Jane Dulson claimed the final point to keep their title hopes alive.
Wickham can snatch the championship from Stubbington by beating Southsea in their final match.
In the same division, Warsash II finally found some form with a 4-0 win over Avenue III – a result that left them in a comfortable mid-table position.
Action in the mixed divisions was restricted to a 3-1 win for Avenue II over PTA in division two and a 4-0 success for Warsash III against Wickham.
The latter was much closer than the scoreline suggests.
Warsash won both the opening rubbers with relative ease but Wickham fought back hard in the second round.
Janet and Peter Eade only lost 7-6, 7-5, while Sue North and Harvey Ford took a set off Carole Ablitt and Nigel Kirkham before going down in the third.
Meanwhile in men’s division four, Canoe Lake III edged a winning draw against Alverstoke by 42 games to 40.
The mixed masters teams from Fishbourne and Ryde Lawn were cheering on Avenue in their crucial showdown with Chichester.
Anything other than a three-point win for the West Sussex team would have left the others in with a chance of claiming the championship.
But there was to be no slip-up as Chichester eased to a 4-0 success, courtesy of two tie-break victories – one in a mixed doubles rubber and the other in the ladies’ contest.
Carlton Green completed their masters campaign with a win over Glethorn.
Rowlands Castle rounded off the ladies masters division two season with a defeat at the hands of Sarisbury Green – who claimed the championship – and a win against Avenue. Castle finished second.
The Warsash courts were ripped up for resurfacing after the club’s finals day last Sunday.
It is hoped the new courts will be ready at the beginning of October.
Work is well under way on the winter competition with 119 teams entered from 23 clubs.
They will be sorted into 18 divisions with 438 fixtures to be played between late September and the end of February.
With eight players per fixture, there will be around 3,500 opportunities for individuals to take part this winter.