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It couldn’t be tighter – rubbers, sets and games all level in epic Portsmouth Tennis League clash between Avenue and Warsash

Rarely, though, do we see a match quite as close as Saturday’s encounter when Avenue hosted Warsash.

It was clear from the first round of rubbers that the respective top pairs were significantly stronger than the seconds, both top pairs winning for the loss of few games, but Warsash claiming a three-game advantage.

The visitors’ Andy Herrod Taylor and Victoria Pine then took the first set of the 1’s v 1’s rubber 6-1, strengthening the overall lead and suggesting the perennial champions would prevail.

Rowlands Castle mixed masters v Carlton Green (from left): Debbie Tapply, Roger Castle, Jane Mellor, Richard Ainscow, Jacqs Clarke, Chris Weatherill, Gwen Isaacs, Gary Colmer

But Avenue’s Mark Lance and Jennie Smith were having none of that. They brushed aside Martin Wilkinson and PG Udal for the loss of just three games, leaving their second pair, James Rosenthal and Viola Masona, the seemingly impossible task of taking at least one set off Herrod-Taylor/ Masona to claim victory.

Although they failed to achieve that objective, they did the next best thing, taking the second set to a tie break. And although they lost it, the 6-7 scoreline was enough to make sure that the rubbers, sets and games were all shared equally – ensuring the match was tied and the points also shared equally.

CourtX wrapped up their season in mixed 3 by securing promotion with a 3-1 win over Ryde Lawn 2nds, but they will have to wait until the outcome of the match between Active Academy and Lawn 2nds before they will learn If they will go up as champions or runners up.

Warsash 2nds secured their position in the division next summer when they eased past relegation rivals Chichester 2nds, while Alverstoke gave themselves a fighting chance of staying up when Sue Western and Duncan Robertson won both their rubbers for the loss of only four games in the match up with Avenue 3rds.

Alverstoke 1sts v Avenue 3rds mixed. Back (from left): George Knight, Harry Harrison, Nicky Heyworth, Chris Titterington, Duncan Robinson. Front: Julia Baker, Becky Howarth, Sue Western.

Avenue won the other two rubbers, but they couldn’t overhaul the games difference created by the two big set wins, enabling Alverstoke to take the winning draw points.

Rowlands Castle moved into a position to challenge for promotion from division 4 with a 4-0 win against Warsash 3rds, while in division 5 Stubbington hosted Lee 2nds knowing that a clear three-point win would give them a good chance of the runners up position , and promotion.

But it was not to be. The rubbers and sets were shared, but Lee’s Alex Westbrook and Sasha Benzina won nine games in their losing rubber against Elaine and Richard Reed, enough to give their team the winning draw points on games countback.

Wickham took advantage of Stubbington’s slip up to move into second place, courtesy of their victory over Southsea 2nds. But that position could still be threatened by Chichester 2nds, who still have two games to play.

Coinciding with the Lionesses football final, most of the ladies teams had a weekend off. In the two matches played, top flight strugglers Warsash 2nds notched up a first win of the season, overcoming Ryde Lawn 2nds 4-0.

One division down JEM Tennis recorded a much easier than expected win over Active Academy.

Fishbourne men’s team delayed the start of their home campaign in division 2 until their favorite hardcourts had been resurfaced and painted, but they christened the courts in style by beating Warsash 2nds 3-1.

JJ Bone and Carl Pendle were held to 7-5 in their first set, but there was no stopping them after that as they lost only one more game in three sets.

CourtX 3rds maintained their promotion challenge in men’s 3 with a comfortable win over Lee 3rds, but Lee 4ths fared somewhat better, overcoming Ryde Mead 2nds 3-1.

And the final men’s match, in division 5, saw Southsea claim their first point of their debut season. They were unlucky not to make it a first victory, as they shared the rubbers with Warsash 4ths and even won more games, 40 to 38.

However, Warsash won 5-4 on sets and that was good enough to claim the winning draw points.

Ryde Lawn 2nds and Rowlands Castle both rounded off their midweek mixed masters season with victories over Ryde Mead and Carlton Green respectively, while Fishbourne kept their outside promotion hopes alive with a 4-0 win over Southsea.

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