After a rather convoluted central London journey courtesy of a quirky German satellite navigator, Cambs II arrived at the splendid Park Langley Club to face league leaders Kent III. While the men were a relatively familiar team of James Watkins, Rob Couch, Daniel Bates and Will Hodgkinson, the ladies enjoyed a blend of some new faces, and an opportunity for junior talent to get more experience under their belt. Tracey Hayward played with Lisa Hawes, Hannah Sharman and Rachael Farrington.
Knowing that Kent were promotion candidates, and facing them on their (superb) home territory, Cambs knew that they were facing a tough battle. With four courts available, all the singles went on together, and with umpires as well it became a battle for the remaining spectators to support any particular game with our usual gusto, and keep track of the scores. It became apparent early on that the men were going to be outgunned in their singles, with Rob suffering at the hands of a very promising performance by Kent’s Ryan Staden. James fared slightly better, but was still beaten in two. The girls on the other hand got off to a flying start, with both Tracey and Rachael taking their first ends. Sadly though, the Kent ladies regained their composure and applied more pressure to win through.
The doubles saw a collection of nail-biting games for the men. Against the first pair, Rob and Daniel took the lead, and believed they were taking the game in the second before a late and blatant line call error stripped them of their advantage and their concentration. In the second game, Rob and Daniel regained their composure, and asserted themselves well to take it in two – with Rob gaining his revenge from the singles. James and Will fought hard and long, but were taken in three in both their doubles games, but only to sets in the third against the Kent 2nd pair.
The ladies suffered more, going down to straight sets in all their games. This didn’t mean that they didn’t fight though, and real effort was made to push Kent all the way. Coming to the mixed the consolation point had already slipped away, and it was clear that Cambs had a mountain to climb. Indeed all three pairs were taken in two games, although again scores were in the high teens or sets for nearly all.
So Cambs came home with a 14-1 loss under their belts, but again the overall score in no way reflected the quality of the games. The players all had good hard games, and many of the scores went into the high teens. Cambs did not feel overwhelmed, and Kent will have left knowing they’d been given a good testing. It’s a cliché, but this will still have been a valuable experience for some of our junior players, who form the County’s future – not least with Rachael tasting first blood in the singles.