The Hampshire & IOW Men’s team was in Division 3 of the National Winter County Singles Championships this year held at David Lloyd Southampton over the weekend of 27th-29th November. The other counties in the Division were Suffolk, Cheshire and Dorset.
Representing Hampshire were: Josh Goodall, James Chaudry, George Houghton, Josh Girling, George Barfoot, Adam Drysdale, Josh Gook, Pete Francis, Karim Aouichaoui, Micheal Johnson.
Division 3 this year was particularly tough with all counties having strong teams.
Day 1 V Suffolk
Suffolk showed their strength as a team starting fast and running away with an unassailable 5 - 1 lead after singles. We were in all the matches but they were just a bit too sharp for us to get past, apart from Karim who was excellent winning easily at no.5. The doubles was much better and we took 2 out of 3 matches and ended with a 6 - 3 loss.
Day 2 V Cheshire
Cheshire were the favourites in the group so we had a real struggle on our hands to get a win but we did have Josh Goodall coming in for this match. We again had a tough time losing the first 4 singles, Karim pulled a hamstring in his match and had to retire, and the others lost theirs in tight matches, but with great wins from Chaudry and Goodall we finished the singles at 4 - 2 down. Now we needed to win all 3 doubles against a very experienced Cheshire team to get a result. We got off to a great start with an excellent win from Girling/Aouichaoui at no. 2 (even with a pulled hamstring!) and then we got another win from Goodall/Chaudry at no.1. But after a great effort from Francis/Drysdale at no.3, losing in 3 sets, we lost 5 - 4.
Day 3 V Dorset
It was a straight shoot out, the winner would stayed in Division 3, the loser would go down. (It is what we all play County tennis for, a shoot-out against our rivals!). Karim was still injured for singles which was a shame as he has been playing his best tennis ever, also Josh Goodall could only play on the Saturday. So it was, like the Summer Cup, up to the rest of the team to step up to the plate and win.
We got off to a great start with solid wins from Pete, Josh, Adam and also James at no.1 and led 4 - 2 after singles, so we only needed one of the doubles to win but their doubles were strong. We won the first set of a great doubles match with Francis/Chaudry at no. 1 but Dorset came back to win it in three sets. So now 4 - 3 and we weren't sure if Karim’s leg was going to be ok so it was up to our 3rds Drysdale/Johnson to get the match finished. In a very tight match they completely contained Dorset and won 6 - 3 6 - 2. Job done.
Again a great team performance with everyone contributing, especially under pressure.
The first 4 singles on the last day was brilliant, (Pete, Gooky, Adam and Chauders.)
Mike and Adam were superb winning the vital match. Karim and Girling now look like a doubles pair that players fear to play.
Josh Goodall showed a touch of class and inspiration to the rest of the team. It was excellent to get two juniors, George Houghton and George Barfoot, in the side to get a feel of how tough it really is!
James Chaudry was Player of the tournament.
Julian Godfrey, Mens Captain