ESSEX men’s captain Jamie Willson believes his team can get back to the top flight of county tennis – if they get the rub of the green.

Essex were crowned Group Three champions in Frinton after this year’s Aegon Summer County Cup.

And the non-playing captain believes it could herald a climb back up the groups again, culminating in a return to playing in Group One at Eastbourne.

“We are strong enough to go up next year but Group Two is very strong so we will do well to go up,” said Willson.

“I’m confident we can do it if we get a little bit of luck with things like injuries. It went our way this year, which it had not for the last few years.

“I’m hoping our luck lasts next summer and we can win promotion to get back to Eastbourne the following year.”

Essex narrowly beat Leicestershire 5-4 in their opening rubber at County Week with one of the matches crucially being won on a tie break.

And Willson said if that result had gone against them then it could have made the difference between promotion or staying in the group.

Instead, Essex went on to beat West of Scotland 9-0 and Cheshire by the same scoreline.

Willson’s team narrowly beat bottom-of-the-table North of Scotland 5-4 before finishing with a 6-3 defeat to Cambridgeshire, who were promoted as runners-up.

“It was an excellent week and from a local point of view we had Rob Carter, Ryan Penistone and Rich Barham all doing well,” added Willson.

“Ryan came in as a rookie last year and showed he was a really good player. This year he was like a seasoned pro.

“Rob played very well. He plays full time but loves coming back for County Week.

“Rich played well on the Thursday but struggled on Friday because his doubles partner Marshall (Tutu) had hurt his arm.

“Rich played his last round with James Caddies, who is a 15-year-old from Billericay, and it was good for him to get a game.”

The men’s success was mirrored by Essex’s ladies’ team, who won promotion as runners-up in Group Three at Surbiton.

Willson congratulated them on their success.