For the first time in GC Inter-Counties history, entries exceeded the maximum of twelve and a playo-ff became necessary. Under the Inter-Counties regulations, team that had not played the previous year, together with the bottom team from the previous year, were required to play-off for the last two places. The play-off took place at Hamptworth on Sunday 11 May and the teams were:
These were quite strong teams for the play-off, whcih resulted in some excellent competition. The format chosen followed that used in the main event with each player having three singles and three doubles, which provided six rounds and a total of 27 games to be decided. Theoretically, it was possible for any team to have a maximum of eighteen wins.
Oxfordshire started off strongly and surged well into the lead, but were overtaken by Middlesex in the afternoon, and finally Glos/Worcs rallied. Before the start of the last round we had Middlesex on 9, Oxford on 8 and Glos/Worcs on 7. With a possible two wins for each team this could have resulted in the ultimate Manager's nightmare with 9 wins each. but Middlesex came to the rescue with 2 wins to make sure of their place, but as Glos/Worcs won one of their doubles we had a tie for the remaining place as both team now had eight wins. This situation had been envisaged and tournament instruction decreed that net points should be used to settle the matter. Oxfordshire were in fact 29 points better in this area and so gained the final place.
With such strong competition in the play-off, this bodes well for the actual event and I am sure will put an extra spur on all teams to keep well away from the bottom place.
As much as we would like to see the GC Inter-Counties grow, it will need another venue, at least one extra day, and possibly four additional team if we are to provide a workable format, so please get in touch with me if you think there are possibilities with your county.