The South Wales men’s tennis team finished third in the top tier of the national AEGON County Cup.
Competing against the strongest county teams in Britain at the prestigious Devonshire Park venue in Eastbourne, it is thought to be the best achievement by a Welsh team in the competition’s history.
The team, captained by Chris Lewis of Neath, included Craig Evans (Glyneath),
Josh Milton (Cardiff), Nick Rees (Swansea), David Loosemore (Cardiff), Jordan Helyer (Cardiff), Simon Pritchard (Newport), Edward Jones (Carmarthen), and Craig Ingham (Swansea).
On the opening day they beat eventual champions Surrey 5-4, and followed this with another 5-4 win over Norfolk, to end the second day in runner-up spot.
The next days brought close losses to Kent and Hertfordshire with a final-day victory over Yorkshire enough to seal third place and secure South Wales’ spot in the top tier of the competition again next year.
“The players invested a huge amount of time and effort into the event this year, both during the week itself and with the preparation required to arrive in good shape and form,” said captain Chris Lewis.
“I can honestly say that this was one of the hardest weeks of my playing career. I have played county week for around 13 years now but this was my first visit to group one. The level is so high in Eastbourne and there are simply no easy matches.
“Every day we were involved in nip and tuck matches where the momentum was constantly switching and the end result difficult to predict. The weather was hot for the majority of the week and with the courts in great condition there was no hiding place.”
He added: “We travelled to Eastbourne in high hopes of challenging for the title rather than to simply stay in the top tier and so it proved. In my opinion, we currently have the strongest squad in the history of our county’s involvement in the competition.”
Peter Drew, chief executive of Tennis Wales, said: “This is an absolutely fantastic achievement for Chris and the team. The results show they were in serious contention for the title, and I’m sure this will be a real inspiration for young players throughout Wales.”
Information on all aspects of tennis in Wales is available from Tennis Wales at 029 20 463335 or www.lta.org.uk/in-your-area/Wales/