For the second year in a row Notts were in group 4, hoping to make it to the dizzy heights of group 3. On arrival at Eastbourne the team were greeted with the usual gale force winds which made for an unsatisfactory practice session on the day prior to the start of competition. Norfolk were the opponents on the first day and Notts were hopeful of a win given that the opposition only had 4 players and a rusty second string singles player. Despite a good performance by Lisa Knowles and Bethan Mallalue in the final doubles match which they lost in the final set champions tie break, the tie resulted in frustration with Nottinghamshire losing overall 4-1, the sole winner being Caroline Milns in the singles.
Hopes were higher on day 2 when Nottinghamshire were drawn against old rivals Derbyshire who had Kathryn Cook as one of their players; many of the Notts players had played her in junior days and remembered her brick-wall like game. Notts also had extra strength in their team though as Nadja Oliveira arrived to contribute to the doubles pairings. Unfortunately another day of frustration evolved, with the Notts team all slightly off form and suffering from blisters and creaking bodies. Maia Dunn played a good singles match and emerged with a 6-2 6-3 win against Kathyrn Cook, to leave the score again at 4-1 to Derbyshire.
The final day was expected to be the hardest of all as Oxfordshire had already beaten both Derbyshire and Norfolk convincingly over the previous 2 days. However the ever present Eastbourne wind had brought rain overnight and there was an eerie sea mist present all morning which meant no play was possible until around 2pm, when teams were usually planning their journeys home. The bad weather meant that by the time the sun came out there was only time left to play 3 out of the 5 matches. Caroline put up a great fight in the singles against the better rated player, Imogen Wyatt to suffer a tight loss 7-6 6-4. Unfortunately things went downhill from there and Notts lost the final two matches easily to end the third day with another disappointing 3-0 loss.
Overall it was a frustrating and disappointing weekend of tennis for Nottinghamshire that ended in relegation back to group 5. Long-standing injuries and niggles in several team members and a lack of useful contribution from the captain, Aldona Greenwood who was recovering from shoulder surgery had resulted in a depleted team who were short of practice. There were positives from the weekend however; Turkish the B&B dog who has been Notts’ mascot for the last few years appears to be back to his normal self despite his aging 12 years and multiple health problems. The grass courts were also better than ever -Devonshire Park have employed a new groundsman and his assistant loyal dog who appears to guide him around the courts and instruct him on which courts need attending to.
Aldona Greenwood, Captain 2016.