Oxfordshire men’s captain Jon Maskens praised the efforts of his side after they clinched promotion to Group 4 following a highly successful week in West Worthing.
A 4-2 victory in their final game against Bucks saw them finish second to group winners Sussex.
They had started their campaign with a 5-4 defeat against Sussex, before bouncing back in style to beat both Dorset and Durham 5-4.
Their biggest win came in a 7-2 thrashing of Hereford & Worcester, before the victory against Bucks saw them clinch promotion for the third season in a row.
Oxon had to be content with the runners-up slot after they were pipped to the title by Sussex, courtesy of that earlier defeat, despite having an identical record.
Maskens admitted that winning promotion had come as a shock.
“We are all delighted because it’s the first time for a decade that we will be playing in Group 4,” he said.
“We expected to beat Bucks in the last match, but we didn’t expect to go up.
“We will have to see what happens next season. Hopefully we can get a few of the younger lads playing for us.”
However, it wasn’t such a good week for Oxfordshire’s women as they were relegated from Group 6 at Ilkley, Yorkshire.
A run of four straight defeats to Cambridgeshire (7-2), Cornwall (6-3), Suffolk (6-3) and Shropshire (5-4) saw them relegated to Group 7, before their final-day 7-2 demolition of Hereford & Worcester which restored some much-needed pride.
Oxfordshire’s cause was not helped when their captain Emma Tolson sat out the rest of the tournament after injuring an elbow against Cornwall.
But she refused to blame her injury on their relegation.
“We don’t have the depth of players in the county and a lot of the opposition play and train full-time.
“We also weren’t able to call upon experienced players like Lucy Brown and Claire Taylor, which was a real shame.
“We were fairly strong at the first and second pair, but we could have done with the third pair winning a few more matches.
“But at least we did finish on a positive note.
“It was a long week because instead of the three days it was five, which makes it difficult.”
Tolson added: “I played in the first match and it was feeling quite good and there was no pain.
“But I don’t know what would have happened if I had played on, because I’ve got quite a lot of local games coming up.”
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