TENNIS: STAR newcomer Summer Yardley has reason to be cheerful after helping a depleted Warwickshire Women’s side avoid relegation from the Aegon County Cup.
The Midlanders, who were without Alannah Griffin or Emily Smith, started with a fresh squad – hopeful that new blood could inspire her side onto victory.
And the strategy paid off when Warwickshire defeated Middlesex 6-3 in the opening game.
Despite losses to the highly-fancied Surrey, Kent and Hertfordshire sides, Yardley and Hillyer battled on and picked up several crucial rubbers that kept Warwickshire hopes alive.
But the county side went into the rain-affected final day lying second last in the table and knowing that their only chance of staying up in the elite group depended on an emphatic victory over Lancashire and for Middlesex to lose to Surrey.
Yardley, by now partnering the inexperienced Katie Malazonia at third pair, sensationally upset the highly-rated Lancashire first pair for the loss of just 4 games, her big forehand doing much of the damage and the youngsters then made it three out of three in gritty style.
Warwickshire went on to defeat Lancashire -8.
Middlesex were no match for Surrey, confirming Warwickshire’s survival.
Elsewhere Men’s captain Nathan Rooney of Solihull was forced into calling up several teenagers including junior international Luke Hammond, Oliver Nolan and Solihull’s Luke Simkiss
Despite some fine wins partnering the big-serving Hammond, Rooney and his side narrowly failed to win promotion from Group Five at Felixstowe after losing 4-5 to Leicestershire on the final day.
Following hard-fought victories over Durham, Nottinghamshire, and Gloucestershire, Warwickshire needed to defeat the group leaders, Leicestershire, on the final day to confirm victory.
Although Rooney and Hammond scored easy victories over the second and third pairs, they lost in straight sets to the powerful Leicestershire firsts.
Coventry coaches Simon Ferguson and Richard Partridge then lost a second tiebreak as a disappointed Rooney praised his young side for their efforts.
He said: “No one stopped battling away and playing each point as though their life depended on it.
“It was a huge team effort and Luke Hammond really stepped up and showed his potential at first pair Cam Malik’s new partnership with young Oliver Nolan was a real highlight too.
“We’ll be back hungrier than ever this time next year ready to go again in the Bears quest for promotion.”