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Culford duo help Suffolk to win historic county title

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COUNTY CHAMP: Myles Orton played a leading role in Suffolk’s triumph
COUNTY CHAMP: Myles Orton played a leading role in Suffolk’s triumph

Myles Orton played a leading role as Suffolk Men’s tennis squad upset the odds to be crowned National Premier League champions last week.

In what was a doubles-only format competition, the former Debenham High School pupil managed to pick up 13 rubbers from the 15 on offer alongside his playing partner Ashley Watling.

Just being in the top flight is an achievement for the Suffolk squad who, unlike many of their counterparts, do not pay their players.

However, wins against Cambridgeshire (9-0), Derbyshire (6-3) and Hertfordshire (6-3) put them in a lofty position in Eastbourne, before a 6-3 defeat to Essex ensured a nervy conclusion.

To stand any chance of securing the title for a first time, Orton’s Suffolk needed to beat Middlesex by at least 7-2 and hope that Hertfordshire got the better of Essex, both of which duly happened to secure the triumph.

“The belief grew as the tournament went on that we could go on and win it,” said Orton, who hails from Mickfield.

“It is difficult for us because the rest of the teams we play against have a lot more funding, whereas we have to raise the money to play.

“Other players are getting paid to play and we are having to take time off to be involved.

“It makes the win all the more special. I have been involved with Suffolk for around eight years and it has been quite a journey.

“There have been promotions and the odd relegation, but we have a very good team spirit and everyone fights for each other.

“It will be tough but we would love to build on this success.”

Orton was not the only player with Culford School connections to feature in the squad.

Bury St Edmunds-based teenager Oscar Cutting also played a role, having shown a marked improvement from 12 months ago.

Long-serving captain Jez Cowley said of Cutting’s contribution: “Oscar was a little bit put out last year that he did not feature regularly.

“He needed to improve his attitude and to his credit he has done.

“He has learned and grown up a lot. He did not play every game, but he did well and gave plenty of support – his attitude was spot on.

Meanwhile, on Suffolk’s success, Cowley added: “I am not sure it has still properly sunk in. It is a bit surreal.

“It has been such a long journey. We stayed up by the skin of our teeth last year and many people thought we would get relegated this time around.”