Champions are pushed all the way by Kenilworth

Kenilworth’s men were just edged out in an epic Warwickshire Division One encounter with reigning champions Birmingham University.

Jenny Wright lost out in three games to a strong number five, while on the show court Steve Townsend was made to work hard to extend his unbeaten run to 20 matches.

After saving a game point to win the first, he took the second on a tie-break and then produced an incredible boast to give himself match point in the third, which he gratefully took in the next rally.

After losing the first two games, James Piddington saved match points before losing the third 16-14, leaving Chris Fuller with the task of keeping the match alive.

Fuller was in control of the pattern of play from the opening rally and dropped only 12 points in the entire match, combining perfect drives, tremendous pace, inch-perfect drop shots and awesome retrieving.

That left Guy Pearson fighting for the vital last rubber in front of a capacity crowd, many of whom had travelled over from Stratford where he also coaches.

Opponent Oliver Mapp took control of the first but the second game saw Pearson at his very best to draw level.

The third game saw both players determined to give it everything and Pearson had the crowd on the edge of their seats.

With Pearson 14-13 up, Mapp looked to have produced a winner only for the Kenilworth player to dive full-length, play a lob just inches from the out line and then pick himself up to caress the most delicate crosscourt backhand drop into the nick to go ahead.

A tight fourth went to Mapp to leave the evening hinging on the outcome of the decider.

From 10-7 down, Pearson won three points on the bounce to draw level.

However, he was unable to continue his heroics, going down to a 12-10 defeat to hand the match win to the students.