First Team on tenterhooks

With Staffordshire withdrawing from the final weekend of the SCC season, the final positions in Division 1 North are still to be resolved. The top two qualify for the play-offs with the top two from Division 1 South to determine which two of the four gain promotion to the Championship and how the un-played matches are treated will materially affect who is in the top two. The SCC Management Group will be meeting on Monday 11th April to determine the official outcome in this, and a number of other divisions/sections.

The 1st team entered the weekend at Leeds University with three matches to negotiate though, first on Saturday against Notts 2, fighting to avoid relegation and fellow play-off hopefuls Oxfordshire and then Yorkshire 3 on Sunday morning, a fixture that has always proved to be close over the years.

Back row: Eddie Burgess, Jamie Tinnion, Rachel Frobisher, James Anderson, Garrylee McMullen. Front row: Philip Pahatouridis, Catherine Thomas, Eleanor Laws, Lauren Young and Lucy Dodd

James Anderson and Lucy Dodd got us underway against Notts 2 but we still trailed 3-2 after the singles despite three-set efforts form the others. Garrylee McMullen and Philip Pahatouridis soon made that 3-all but James and Eddie Burgess, playing together for the first time, lost out narrowly in the second mens 18-21, 23-21, 17-21 to restore Notts lead. The ladies were also split, Eleanor Laws and Catherine Thomas hanging on just to win 22-20 in the third to keep North in it at 5-4 down going into the mixed.

Eddie and Rachel Frobisher got theirs in two to level at 5-all but Philip and Lauren Young were just pipped 22-20, 21-19. Still, 5 points gained in the quest for the top two with a big challenge upcoming in the afternoon against Oxfordshire, second placed at the start of the day.

We made a great start in the singles securing a 4-1 lead, especial mention going to Jamie Tinnion victorious 21-19 in his deciding set. Garrylee and Philip secured the top string doubles in two and then James and Eddie Burgess could hardly have been closer in just edging theirs 21-19, 19-21, 21-19 for the victory at 6-1. It is individual rubbers that matter in this format though and both ladies triumphed in three before the mixed were split to give a final winning score of 9-2.

This set up an intriguing scenario going into the final matches on Sunday morning. If we could beat Yorkshire 3 by just 6-5 and Lothian only won their remaining fixture 8-3 then North could finish second and gain a place in the play-offs.

Never an easy game against Yorkshire but Garrylee, James and Lucy ensured we led after the singles 3-2 before Garrylee and Philip stretched that lead further with a straight sets win. In the level doubles, the men’s were split as were the ladies with the experience of Tracy Parker and Lucy Kidd (nee Milne) proving key at top string for Yorkshire, but this was balanced by another sterling effort from Cat and Elle who eventually got home 25-23 in the third!

Just the mixed to go, up a set in one, down a set in the other then level at one set all in both but it was not to be and Yorkshire 3 took both in the deciding set, running out winners 6-5.

So an excellent haul of 19 points from a possible 33, despite only one match win from three, but will it be enough? Lothian duly won their remaining fixture 8-3 to set up a tricky situation for the SCC Management Committee to adjudicate on.