Shropshire’s over-35s men’s team enjoy competing in LTA’s Over-35s County Cup at Eastbourne’s Devonshire Park

Shropshire’s over-35s men's team enjoyed a great weekend of tennis as they competed in the LTA’s Over-35s County Cup at Eastbourne’s Devonshire Park.

After memorably securing promotion to division four in 2019, the return of the popular tournament this year saw Shropshire playing at a higher level in a group which also featured East of Scotland, Oxfordshire and Devon.

Shropshire’s side included some familiar faces and experienced campaigners as they headed south to the Sussex coast in pursuit of county success. 

Captain Ian Gillespie said: "We fielded another very strong and loyal squad of six players, with the unfortunate notable absence of James Knight on this occasion.”

Captain Gillespie, having recently won three titles in senior ITF events, was joined in the county squad by Hugh Jaques, a recent GB seniors representative and Peter Gillespie, also a recent GB senior representative and ranked No. 1 in the country in his age group.

The Shropshire squad also featured Adam Baldwin, a roll of honour 15/15 in men's county week competitor, James Priestley, a past county junior and senior representative and a youthful addition to the squad, and Grant Broadley, a consistent county representative in over-35s tennis and a very well recognised performance coach in Sussex.

Shropshire’s opening match in Group 4b saw them face a very experienced Oxfordshire team, the eventual group winners, with some close encounters in the singles and doubles matches, which could have gone either way, ultimately going the way of Oxfordshire.  

A very competitive East of Scotland team provided Shropshire’s opposition on day two.

“We knew we had to bounce back well after our defeat against Oxfordshire,” said captain Gillespie. “We again had some very close and intense matches in some very hot weather conditions. Fortunately, we managed to hold our nerve and get the victory which was very well deserved.”

The county’s final day match against Devon decided which teams would finish second and third in the group, with Devon emerging narrow winners to ensure Shropshire ended in third place.

Gillespie added: “We ended up playing for second or third place in our division, with both teams safe from relegation. 

“It was a difficult start to the day on the show court, going down 1-0 in our first singles match with some very consistent play shown by Devon's No. 2 singles player. 

“We managed to pull it back by winning the next two encounters before the rain came in to effect the courts and day's play.

“It was such a shame, but we were happy to retain our division four position and look forward to strengthening further into 2022.”

The Group 4b results can be found via this link https://competitions.lta.org.uk/sport/tournament.aspx?id=b8670fd1-dce1-4f11-bf85-df0a54af56be

Pictured: The Shropshire over-35s men’s squad at Eastbourne’s Devonshire Park, from left: James Priestley, Ian Gillespie (captain), Hugh Jaques, Adam Baldwin and Peter Gillespie. Grant Broadley is not pictured.