TENNIS: Taylor says fast start is the key for Northants men

Northants skipper Mark Taylor
Northants skipper Mark Taylor
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Northants men’s skipper Mark Taylor believes the first two days will be critical to the hopes of his team at the Fenners Road, University of Cambridge Tennis Club next week.

Northants men will be in action for five days from July 18 in the Aegon LTA County Cup, although the women’s side has disappointingly withdrawn from their scheduled trip to Ilkley Moor in Yorkshire.

Taylor has assembled a squad of Charlie Swallow, Kyle Rae, Jack Haworth, Joe Tyler, Shakeel Manji, Peter Whight and Ben Foster and is happy they can do the county justice after securing promotion into Group Five, having gone up for the last two years.

He said: “All of our team have been playing regularly with Jack, Shakeel and Kyle in America... Kyle has been at junior college in California for the last year before he heads to Los Angeles for full college in September.

“Charlie is now coaching full time in Leeds while Joe comes into this on the back of competing at Junior Wimbledon after getting a wild card into the qualifying event.”

Oxford University graduate Whight is now working in the city but has proved a solid performer for Northants in the past and is someone Taylor has kept on his scanner.

Looking ahead to the matches which open up with Sussex on Monday and then consist of Durham & Cleveland, West of Scotland, Devon and finally Buckinghamshire, Taylor said: “Bucks won our group last year so I imagine they will be tough but I think we can get in among Sussex and Durham & Cleveland on the first two days.”

For the first time ever, the county women will not be turning out a team for the County Cup and apparently modern lifestyle pressures and ablity to commit are to blame.

It means Northants will suffer an automatic relegation and a loss of funding.

KETTERING-based wheelchair performer Dermot Bailey will be travelling to Rio for a week during the Paralympic Games which run from September 7 -18 but not as part of the four-man Great Britain team.

The 22 year-old, who has broken into the top 40 players in the world, is still ranked fifth among the GB performers.

However, he is going as an observer through the Paralympic Improvement Programme to help condition him for a place in the team in Tokyo in four years’ time.

This has been a tried and tested scheme for current wheelchair tennis players Alfie Hewett and Marc McCarroll in the recent past.

In the meantime, Bailey is flying out to Germany next Tuesday to contest a Grade 2 event in Berlin before tackling the British Open at Nottingham which gets underway on July 26.

Bailey said: “The top 20 players in the world will be at the British Open so I should end up meeting one of the best around.

“I have been happy with how I have been playing in practice of late so it will be interesting to see how I get on.

“It is a great opportunity to go to Rio as an observer.

“The idea is for me to get an idea of the atmosphere and the protocol to be ready for Tokyo in 2020.

“I will still only be 26 and the best wheelchair players in the world tend to be in their late 20s and early 30s.”