Rowlands Castle derby rivals in memorable week

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Rowlands Castle enjoyed one of their best weeks since they joined the Portsmouth & District League five years ago – as they won three matches in four days.

Their midweek masters team overcame Avenue 3-1 in a stirring derby match featuring three champions tie-breaks – two of them won by Rowlands and one by Avenue.

However, the fourth rubber saw Castle’s ladies win in straight sets to secure the match.

Three days later Rowlands Castle visited Warsash II – a place where they have had little success in the past – in ladies’ division two.

But not this time. Liz Marenghi and Michele Harpur stormed to two straight-set wins and with Dawn Wears and Caron Howe edging a close final rubber by two sets to one, Castle ran out 3-1 winners.

And while the ladies were finishing off Warsash, their men’s team travelled to Hamble to take on the team from JEM Tennis.

With JEM bottom of the league, Castle had high expectations.

But they were soon brought back to earth as JEM took a one-game lead after the first two rubbers were shared.

A good start to the reverse rubbers saw Castle’s confidence restored, only for it to be shattered again when JEM levelled the second string match and raced into a 5-2 lead in the first-team game.

But Rowlands steadied the ship and fought back to win both rubbers to secure a 3-1 match victory.

With only a third of the matches played in men’s division one, the title race is taking a while to take shape.

Ryde Mead confused the picture further when they edged past Avenue II 5-4 on sets – leaving five teams still in with a chance of taking the crown.

Division three is proving a stroll for Portsmouth Tennis Academy (PTA), who joined the league last summer and are clearly destined for higher things.

Adam Ankcorn and Terry Lawrence completed another whitewash of both the Southsea pairs to ensure an overall match victory, although Martin Jewell and Lewis Cockram won a consolation rubber.

Ryde Mead’s second team lost to Chichester in division four.

Chichester now seem certain to win the title but Ryde still have a very good chance of finishing as runners up.

Ventnor’s mixed team is another one waltzing through the divisions.

A third successive 4-0 win – this time over Avenue II – took them well clear at the top of division two.

And PTA’s mixed team are doing something similar in division three.

With Lawrence heading up their team for his second match of the weekend, they comfortably saw off the challenge of Avenue III to record their fourth win in succession.

Southsea’s Lewis Cockram also played both days – helping his club’s mixed team to a 3-1 match victory over Warsash III on his second outing.

And Avenue V rounded off the week with a comfortable 4-0 victory over Wickham II in division four.