Ladies celebrate their promotion
11:46am Thursday 19th July 2012 in Sport
THE teams at Penarth Lawn Tennis Club are coming to the end of a successful but difficult season in which tennis has been largely subordinate to the ability to arrange matches on the occasional days without rain.
The ladies' first team has achieved the fantastic feat of promotion to the elite Premier I Division of South Wales tennis, with two matches still to play, having already won seven and drawn one of their eight matches.
On Wednesday, June 27, they travelled to face Virgin Active Glamorgan. The Virgin ladies had clearly been very active this summer - perhaps with all the rain there has been little else for them to do - since there were only four players to face the Penarth girls, which meant that they had to concede two rubbers.
And Penarth won the other four without dropping a set. The team was Nicola Williams/Alys Cunningham, Briohny Gelling/Caroline Hazell and Milly Williams/Olivia Muse.
The ladies won (5-4) another away match at Bridgend on Saturday, July 14, despite conceding all three matches in the last round. First pair Alex Robinson/Milly Williams won both their matches in straight sets as did second pair Stephanie Rees/Caroline Hazell. Third pair Alys Cunningham/Beth Randall won one of their two matches and, in horrendous weather conditions and with the team already leading 5-1, they could afford to go home early. Promotion to Premier Division 1 is now guaranteed and one more win will seal top spot.
The men's first team have played nine of their 10 matches (winning three and drawing one), and are now certain to finish in fourth place and retain their Premier II status. They lost a close home match 4-2 to Bridgend on Sunday, July 8, with first pair Rob Cunningham/Gavin Seymour and second pair Adam Muse/Mark Lewis each winning one rubber.
Jake Ridgley featured in another close 4-2 loss away to Whitchurch on July 11. First pair Cunningham/Jez Thomas won one rubber as did second pair Lewis/Ridgley.
On Sunday, July 15, the team won 5-1 at Caerphilly, with first pair Cunningham/Tom Pegg and second pair Seymour/ Ridgley each winning two rubbers, and third pair Muse/Tom O'Brien winning one. Penarth will hope to win their final match at home to Caerphilly but will stay in Premier II regardless of the result.
The men's second team look to have sealed promotion after playing three matches last week including a final match shootout against Radyr at Rectory Road on Sunday, July 15, to decide second place in the table. The team had travelled to league leaders Rhiwbina on Tuesday, July 10, and, despite fielding a strong side, lost a close match 4-2, with only third pair James Williams/Pete Drew winning two rubbers. On Friday, July 13, the reverse fixture was played, with Rhiwbina travelling to Rectory Road and playing out a crazy 3-3 draw.
After their performance earlier in the week, Drew and Williams were promoted to first pair but were in need of psychiatric treatment after losing a match tie-break 11-9 in their second rubber, having held seven match points at 9-2! The incredible comeback for the Rhiwbina second pair was their just desserts though, having already lost a match tie-break 20-18 to Penarth third pair Martin Radford/Ben Selley in a first round which also saw Penarth second pair Dave Seeley/ Dave Wilson winning 10-8 in a tie-break.
Radford and Selley, who'd risen from his sick bed only hours earlier and for much of the evening wished he was still there, went on to beat their opposite numbers in straight sets to claim the 3-3 draw overall.
This meant Penarth needed a win in their final home match on Sunday, July 15, against Radyr to overtake them in second place in Division 3 East.
A draw would have been good enough for the visitors so, when their second pair beat the home third pair of Seeley/Wilson on the match tie-break, the outlook was bleak for Penarth.
But first pair Ed Stradling/James Williams kept the home side alive with a tight 7-6, 7-5 win over the previously unbeaten Radyr first pair, and the whole match turned on a crucial stroke of luck as one of Radyr's third pair fell ill while leading their first round match against the home second pair of Martin Radford/Pete Drew, and Penarth went on to win on the match tie-break before the Radyr pair had to concede their second round match against Wilson/Seeley. Stradling/Williams and Radford/Drew went on to win their second round matches against a clearly deflated Radyr side as Penarth ran out 5-1 winners. It was terribly hard luck for a very good Radyr side but that didn't sour the taste of the celebratory cava provided by Wilson after the match. The win leaves Penarth provisionally with six wins and two draws from tenmatches. However, the cava may have been premature as there is a very small chance that one of their earlier rain-interrupted matches will have to be replayed and won again. But the overwhelming likelihood is that promotion to Division 2 East will be confirmed later this month. The ladies' second team have recovered from a poor start to the season and, after recording two wins and a draw from three matches last week, they are now safe from relegation in Division 4 East. A 3-3 draw at Usk on Sunday, July 8, saw the three Penarth pairings - Vanessa Parselle/Deb Gale, Gill Munro/Isobel Symonds and Anne Hamilton/Beth Randall - winning one rubber each.
This was followed by a 5-1 victory at home to Dinas Powys IV the following day in a game in which first pair Vanessa Parselle/Hannah Richards and second pair Olivia Muse/Deb Gale each won two rubbers, with third pair Isobel Symonds/Sue Lyons winning one. On Sunday, July 15, the ladies' escape from relegation was confirmed with a 4-2 home win over Radyr, with Parselle/Richards again winning both rubbers. Lyons/Gale and Symonds/Randall won one each.
The men's third team, despite improving in the second half of the season, will be relegated from Division 6 East. Their most recent match on July 14, was a 4-2 defeat by Allt-Yr-Yn.
The ladies' third team look odds-on for promotion with two matches to go in Division 7 East, but rain has prevented any further progress over recent weeks. The club tournament finals take place on Saturday, July 21.