Shropshire’s men’s team delighted to secure Over-35s County Cup promotion

Shropshire’s men’s team have secured promotion in the LTA’s Over-35s County Cup.

Led by captain Ian Gillespie, Shropshire topped Group 5A at Eastbourne and can now look forward to competing at a higher level next summer.

Gillespie was delighted with the efforts of his team as they impressed on the grass courts at Devonshire Park.

“It’s really pleasing to get promotion having been relegated in unfortunate circumstances in the last two years,” said Gillespie.

“We’re now back in division four and our target is to return to division three as that’s where we feel we probably should be.”

The county were scheduled to play three matches in Eastbourne, but Northumberland withdrew from the competition.

That left matches against Staffordshire, which Shropshire won 5-0, before promotion was secured with a 4-1 victory over Durham & Cleveland.

Gillespie was joined on County Cup duty on the south coast by Hugh Jaques, Adam Baldwin, James Knight and Chris Dowden. 

“It was a brilliant weekend,” said Gillespie. “It was disappointing not to have a match on Saturday following the withdrawal of Northumberland.

“But we played Staffordshire and got off to a good start with a 5-0 victory. Durham & Cleveland gained the same result against them, so that meant it came down to the final fixture.

“We knew that was going to be the crunch tie and we managed to get off to a great start in the singles with two good wins in straight sets for myself and Hugh Jaques, which was then followed by the doubles. 

"Everybody chipped in which was good. It was a good team performance and everyone was involved."  

Gillespie and his team mates enjoyed playing at Devonshire Park, which hosts the prestigious Nature Valley International event just before Wimbledon each summer.

“It’s an impressive venue,” added the Shropshire captain. "They hold some big tournaments down there and it’s always a nice event at Eastbourne.”

Shropshire’s over-35s ladies team took part in the County Cup in Eastbourne earlier this month, finishing third in Group 5B topped by East of Scotland.

They were beaten 4-1 by the eventual group winners on the opening day before responding positively to overcome South of Scotland 4-1 the following day, a result which consolidated their place at the same level next summer.

A Shropshire side featuring Holly Mowling, Cheryl Evans, Natalie Freegard and Clare Robinson then ended with defeat at the hands of Nottinghamshire.

“Some great tennis was played,” said Shropshire captain Lisa Nixson. "Three of our players had also just played County week, so it was a long two weeks of grass court tennis for them. 

"As ever, it was always a pleasure to play on the beautiful grass courts at Devonshire Park." 

Pictured celebrating promotion at Eastbourne’s Devonshire Park are Shropshire’s over-35s men’s team, from left, James Knight, Adam Baldwin, Ian Gillespie (captain), Hugh Jaques and Chris Dowden.