Avon County 1st Team
Team Avon Survive in Premier A for one more season
Avon Started the final weekend of the Badminton England Inter County Championships Premier League (23rd and 24th March) in equal 2nd place and with high hopes of finishing in the top five, the highest position ever achieved by an Avon Team. The Premier League is the highest level of County Badminton in the UK. The week before the event two members of the squad; Chris Cole (current England player from Clevedon) and Adam Porter (formerly of Bristol University) pulled out due to International commitments and injury. This did affect the strength of the team.
First match of the weekend was against Warwickshire, a team looking to secure a top three finish. The Warwickshire men included England players Chris Tonks and Ben Stawski and proved too strong for Avon. The Avon Ladies Singles players; Rachel Howard (Former Bath University) and Hannah Littlecott (Former Bristol University), won both their games. The second Ladies doubles, the former Bath University pair of Alison Marr and Nicole Webb was also won by Avon in a tight three set game, Warwickshire won the match 7-3.
The second match of the weekend was against the favourites to win the championship; Yorkshire. They have won the championships 12 times in the last 14 years and the considerable depth of players they have to choose from always results in them fielding a strong side. For this weekend they had in their team Team England stars Gabby White, Andy Ellis, Kate Robertshaw, Lauren Smith and Jess Fletcher. This team was too strong for Avon, the one hi-light being the second mixed pairing of Alison Marr and Geoff Ball, from Bristol, beating the strong pair of Stephen Foster and Jess Fletcher. Yorkshire were comfortable winners of the match 9-1.
The third and final match of the weekend was against Cheshire, who were hoping for enough points to take them to 2nd place overall. Avon needed just three points to ensure another year of badminton at the top level. One of Avon’s four men, Stuart Rowlands from Somerset, had to pull out due to sickness and this gave Cheshire a two game advantage. Rachel Howard had a comfortable win in her singles and Jess Hopton, from Downend, lost a very close three set match in her singles. James Phillips, from Bradley Stoke, and Geoff Ball won the first men’s doubles. Alison Marr and Nicole Webb won the second ladies doubles to win Avon’s third game and ensuring another season in this League. Cheshire won the match 7-3.
This could be looked at as a disappointing weekend, but Avon played the three teams who finished First, Yorkshire, Second, Cheshire and Third, Warwickshire over the weekend. Overall the season has been successful. Avon remaining in this league, with its high standard of play, is a success.
Team for Weekend of 23rd and 24th March
Men: Stuart Rowlands, Arak Bhakanandh, James Phillips and Geoff Ball
Ladies: Rachel Howard, Hannah Littlecott, Allison Marr, Nicole Webb and Jess Hopton
Report by Steve Bird
Avon ICC Match Secretary