Suffolk Men – No.1 Team in the Country
Division 1 in 2018 was the year we believed we could win. Training had been great, Watling and Jones were there all week, Orton was prepared and ready, Cowley & Hough had a renewed energy, Smith was focused and sharp and Kirby had been playing great tennis in his National Club league matches. Cutting was fresh off a great year competing for Culford, Ling was sharp from a successful year at his US college and Lambert had his eye in after his first full year coaching. There was a real sharpness and belief about the team, we talked about how we were good enough to win the title, we didn’t even consider relegation as a threat. Wins of 9-0 against Cambridgeshire, 6-3 against the same Herts team that had won the title the year before and 6-3 against the Derbyshire team that won it in 2015 saw us sitting at the top of the leader board and playing Essex who were also on 3/3 wins. It was a crash back down to earth and a disappointing 6-3 defeat, but we felt it could easily have gone the other way and the standard of tennis, intensity and fight was beyond everything we had shown before; we came away having left everything on court with no regrets. The title may not have been in our hands, but we knew we still had to do a job against Middlesex – they had nothing to play for as they were already safe, but we knew 7 rubbers would give us a chance should Herts beat Essex. After two rounds, with us leading 5-1 (with a minimum of second place secured)
and Herts leading Essex 4-2, we knew two more rubbers for us and one or more for Herts would give us what we believed we could get – the National title. Having done our job finishing 7-2 against Middlesex, we then had to sit and watch Herts battle it out with Essex, and with all three matches entering a third set we were nervous beyond belief. Sitting high in the stands out of the way watching all three matches we held our breath as we watched Herts first pair finally serve out the match. We could hardly believe what had just happened! Suffolk are the champions – the top county in Men’s County Cup 2018. History made! None of this would have been possible without the commitment, support, fight, heart, drive, fun, laughter and enjoyment that my teammates bring to this week each year. This is a tough title to win and it couldn’t happen without total togetherness as a team enjoying the hard work and competitive tennis. Playing for your county is still considered an honour and privilege for this Suffolk team and unlike many other big counties the players don’t get paid to play, its done through commitment, love and enjoyment and for that I can’t thank my boys enough. To reach the pinnacle is incredible and I have loved every moment, from playing, to supporting, to
laughing and joking off court. We took much inspiration from the film ‘Any Given Sunday’ and “inch by inch” we clawed our way to the title and can now sit back and enjoy the next year as Champions of GB.