I was graciously given the honour of looking after the team for the first 3 days of the week. The team this year was missing 5 of our regular players but provided a great opportunity for 4 rookies to join the team (Ben, Jonny, Jamie, and Pierre), who did well in the traditional task of an 2min induction speech explaining the value they brought to the team/county. The boys were all in very good spirit and ready for a gruelling week of tennis in the hot summer weather.
Day 1 against a very strong Middlesex side proved very difficult taking a 9-0 loss. The standout partnership of the day was Ben and Phil, who had some opportunities to steal a set or two. The evening was spent teaching all of the rookies how to play Perudo, our traditional dice game.
Day 2 against Somerset a team we know very well having playing them several times over the years. The day saw a big effort from all the guys but unfortunately ending in a 9-0 loss. Jamie and I, Phil and Ben had very close 3 set losses to the same pair. The day had some good positives and we knew had faced the two best teams here.
Day 3 vs Lincs was the day we knew had to be the start of our fight to stay in Division 4. The first round of matches saw 3 very close matches, in particular a big effort from Jonny and James. Round 3 again saw a big effort from Phil and Ben but unfortunately lost in 3 sets. Jamie and I took a must needed win at the end of the day to finish with a 8-1 loss.
Days 4 & 5 were managed by Mike who looked to motivate the team after a tough three days. This was a tough ask for the guys as they faced stiff opposition against North Wales and Warwickshire. The team battled hard and left nothing on the court other than blood, sweat and tears as they tried to pull the county through one of its toughest weeks to date. There were some exception performances from the younger players who represented the county with pride, with Pierre and Phil beating the top Warwickshire paring in a thrilling 7-6 third set and managing to ruffle a few feathers along the way. Overall a positive two days with large amounts of potential for next year.
After standing in as captain I learned what a hard job it is and on behalf of the team we would like to thank the county for its continued support in providing us with the finances and the opportunity to represent the county at the highest level. We are all committed to working harder to deliver an improved result next year.
Dave Barton (and Mike Wisner)
Top row, l to r: Jamie Praditgnam; Pierre Luiggi; Chris Wood; Phil Peters; Ben McTaggart
Bottom row, l to r: Callum Chivers; Jonny Higham; James Defusto; Mike Wisner
(Dave Barton not in photo)