Vanessa targets success for her Suffolk team in East County Week at Hunstanton
Vanessa Bell has taken over as captain of Suffolk Ladies whose target this year is success in the East County Week at Hunstanton starting on June 19.
Last year the stranglehold of Essex and Hertfordshire on the competition was ended. Suffolk lost narrowly to Norfolk on the final day at Bishop’s Stortford in a shoot-out for the title.
This year there is no reason why Suffolk should not go one better under the leadership of a player with experience on the European Ladies Tour.
The key to success is getting the best players available all week. Last year the enthusiasm of captain Sarah Saggers led to a vastly improved spirit. This can be maintained if the same players can be kept together.
Eloise Aldous has started her PGA training but otherwise there is no reason for change.
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County champion Alice Barlow, concentrating on amateur golf this year before she decides on her long-term future, will be fitter and stronger.
The availability of Fiona Edmond is vital to Suffolk’s chances. She won the stroke play, the Woodbridge Challenge Bowl, last year but was unable to play in the match play because she was unwell. She is one of the best ladies in the East.
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Vanessa Bell is still a power in county golf and will provide the leadership that will be required to keep ahead of Essex, Hertfordshire and Norfolk. Bedfordshire and Cambridgeshire are not likely to be challengers, but this is where Suffolk have been in the past.
Lottie Whyman was county champion in 2015 and can be expected to win most of her county matches.
Vice-captain Sharon Luckman has played county golf with considerable success for many years while Vicki Inglis has claimed notable scalps in county week in the past.
Abbie Symonds has honed her game in the past at the Lee Westwood Academy at Stoke by Nayland and is still working hard on her game. Lily Kent, who did not play in county week last year, will be back from the United States may become available. It could be that Sarah Saggers might be persuaded to turn out again.
The squad will not be named until a few days after the County Championship at Aldeburgh on May 12, 13 and 14 to provide an opportunity to evaluate the results. Someone might emerge from the pack. Fiona Stokes of Haverhill springs to mind at a time when looking to the future is important although this year gives Suffolk their best-ever chance of success thanks to team spirit and experienced leadership.
The Suffolk team to play Woodbridge men on April 23 sees Stokes make her first team debut. Suffolk Ladies: Alice Barlow, Vanessa Bell, Fiona Edmond, Vicki Inglis, Sarah Saggers, Fiona Stokes, Abbie Symonds and Lottie Whyman.