Lincolnshire lead Junior Premier

Adam Harrison on form for Lincolnshire

Lincolnshire were the surprise leaders of the County Championship Junior Premier Division after the first weekend of fixtures were played at Cippenham TTC.

Lincolnshire are the only team with maximum points after all counties played their opening three matches at the Slough venue although former champions Middlesex lie ominously one point behind their rivals as all the teams jockey for positions after the first weekend.

Lincolnshire opened their campaign with a hard fought 6-4 win over Warwickshire, fighting back from losing the first two sets, after Olivia Churchill and Emily Ross defeated their opposing players in Holly Thompson and Emma Kilpatrick.

The two wins they needed came from Adam Harrison who beat Matt Outhwaite 3-1 (6-11, 11-5, 11-6, 11-9) and Tom Jarvis who needed five games to beat Jesse Kendrick-Hill 3-2 (11-5, 8-11, 11-8, 8-11, 11-5) as Lincolnshire completed victory.

Middlesex opened with a 7-3 victory over Kent which saw both Gabriel Achampong and Sam Cowan remain unbeaten with two wins apiece. They were well supported by Daniel Wright, Hiba Feredj and Zahna Hall who all chipped in with one win to complete victory for their county.

Sunday morning saw Lincolnshire get off to a better start against Sussex and, after winning the first two sets, they never looked back as they ran out 7-3 winners.

On this occasion Adam Harrison and Tom Jarvis were undefeated and, with solid performances from Matt Leete, Olivia Churchill and Emily Cross who all chipped in with one win each, it was Lincolnshire who ran out victors.

Tom Jarvis helped his county to the top of the table

Meanwhile, Middlesex thumped Glamorgan 9-1 with only Sam Cowan being unable to record a maximum as he was beaten in four by Laurence Sweeney 3-1 (6-11, 11-5, 11-8, 11-9), although the set of the match saw Gabriel Achampong beat Sweeney 3-2 (11-7, 8-11, 9-11, 15-13, 12-10).

The final round of matches for the weekend saw Lincolnshire comfortably beat Essex 8-2 as Harrison, Leete and Churchill all completed maximums while Jarvis and Ross picked up one win each.

The outstanding match of the weekend was a drawn clash between Middlesex and Sussex as there was never more than a couple of sets between the teams with Sussex winning the last two rubbers to secure a last-gasp draw.

The match went first one way and then the other as Sam Cowan gave Middlesex an opening set lead with a 3-1 (11-8, 11-4, 5-11, 11-2) win over Jack Bennett but two quick wins by Sussex saw them take a 2-1 lead.

Achampong then beat Daniel Barna 3-1 (8-11, 11-3, 11-5, 11-8) to level the match but once again it was Sussex who took the lead as Lois Peake beat Zahna Hall 3-2 (11-3, 7-11, 11-8, 8-11, 11-2).

Not to be outdone, Cowan levelled the match once again for Middlesex after six rubbers with a 3-0 (14-12, 11-5, 13-11) win over Josh Bennett.

Middlesex appeared to have taken command when they won the next two sets and established an unbeatable 5-3 lead (Hall beat Sheen and Achampong beat Jack Bennett) but Peake reduced the arrears to a single set when she took the penultimate set 3-1 (11-8, 11-8, 9-11, 11-5) victory over Feredj.

In the final set Barna beat Rahbani 3-1 (12-10, 9-11, 12-10, 11-6) to earn the draw for his side.

This division will have lots of twists and turns when the counties meet up in Wednesbury next year to complete the season as not only the destination of the title will be up for grabs but also the issue of relegation with Warwickshire currently yet to get off the mark while Essex, Yorkshire and Glamorgan all have just two points to their name.

Barry Snowden

County Championships Press Officer