INTER-ISLAND rivalries were temporarily put to one side as the Channel Islands over-35 team secured promotion in the County Cup recently.
The team of Robert Hannah, Adam Bayley and Lee Ingram from Jersey and Guernsey’s Robert West and Patrick Ogier defeated Cumbria, Northumberland and Wiltshire to win their Division 6 group.
Bayley, a coach at Caesarean Tennis Club, said: ‘It was so much fun – it only happens once a year and it’s on Eastbourne’s grass courts, which are world-class.
‘I’ve played here now for four years and to be promoted against some pretty strong teams and win all three ties was fantastic. This year, we had two Guernsey guys who reached the appropriate age and they became our singles players. I and my partner Rob (Hannah) played doubles with Lee Ingram, who was our fifth player, and so our team has been strengthened a bit. We had to play our first tie over two days because of the rain and the not-so-great weather, but it was on Centre Court, so it was amazing playing on such a perfect grass court.
‘You definitely have to ignore the rivalry when we are together. We had our inter-insular in November and we just beat them [Guernsey] 5-4 overall, so the rivalry is obviously present, but we have to put our heads together when playing for the Channel Islands. The team was really amazing, to be honest. We got on really well together and gelled as a team.’
The Channel Islands downed Northumberland 4-1 in their opening game before taking on their toughest opponents in Wiltshire, where a 3-2 win set them up for promotion. The competition was rounded out with a 3-0 win against Cumbria in a tie that was cut short due to both teams having to travel back home.
‘Cumbria had a nine-hour drive ahead of them and we had to catch a plane, so that tie was cut short,’ Bayley said. ‘These matches wouldn’t have made any difference to the table, however, so that didn’t matter.’
The County Cup occurs each year, and offers a chance for players to climb tables, with the top division featuring the very best county players in the UK and takes on a format similar to the Davis Cup.
Bayley added: ‘We are hoping to be chosen for next year and it’ll be a privilege if we are but there are a few people on the sidelines so Rob and I will be trying to vie for our positions for sure.
‘We could definitely get some ladies players. I know three off-hand already who are very good players and could definitely compete and help get a team together. I think we’re going to be talking about that and trying to get that going for next year.’