Haworth aiming to restore old format

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A return to the original ‘16 Counties’ format is the aim of Corby Tennis Centre manager Craig Haworth next winter.

Over 700 matches were contested at the vibrant venue during the latest 12 Counties venture made up of three divisions of four counties in age ranges from 10U to 18U for teams of four boys and girls, all of which has recently drawn to a close.

So while that has taken the total number of matches played to over 15,000 over the years, Haworth is backing an upbeat onward and upward policy which he will hopes will generate an even greater surge of interest, in terms of both quantity and quality.

He said: “It is a great opportunity for the players to meet opposition from counties they would hardly otherwise come across. That is the advantage of where Corby is situated.

“Here, we have had the likes of Essex playing Yorkshire, as well as teams from the east and west as well.

“For a huge amount of players, representing their county is the pinnacle of their tennis.

“Janet Richardson started the 16 Counties tournament back in 1992 to make sure her daughter Helen got enough matches. She also presented the trophy which is still competed for here.”

While Richardson and her husband Peter moved to Devon some 12 years ago, Haworth added: “I know Janet will be delighted to see how well the event is still supported.

“Hertfordshire have been involved for many years and it is great to see them lift the trophy again, and to have Hildon back sponsoring it.”

The 2011-12 top-flight success of Hertfordshire represents their first success since 1999.

Reflecting on the winter series, Haworth said: “The standard of some of the tennis played this year has been outstanding, with players such as Great Britain number one ranked players Josh Sapwell and Joe Tyler taking part.

“The 18U and 14U age groups are played as close to the Junior County Cup for the same age group as possible. Some counties use it for practise, others for helping team selection.”

Northants finished third in Division 2A, behind winners Cheshire and runners-up Hereford & Worcestershire, and with Nottinghamshire back in fourth place.