TENNIS World Middlesbrough went down to Sheffield by three rubbers to one in a tempestuous tussle last Saturday in the opening round of the National Premier League North-East region inter-division play-off.

The Teesside club had selection problems before the quarter-final against the team which finished second in the southern division, with three players injured. But captain Nigel Beavers partnered evergreen Brent Parker, while head coach Nigel Garton turned out with teenager Richard Love.

The first half of play ended all square, with Beavers and Parker easily stopping the home team's second couple in straight sets and Garton and Love just going down in a third set tie-break against the first pair.

But contentious issues had started to mar proceedings in that contest. Generally umpires are not used, but the tension was such that two people were called to supervise at different times.

The Teessiders were frustrated by the very lengthy preparation time used by one of the Sheffield players before serving. There had also been some line call issues between two clubs who have been play-off foes several times in the past.

But Sheffield took both second-half rubbers and the fourth-best team in the northern division were out.

Ripon's journey to Greater Manchester was postponed until Wednesday.

Sheffield 3 Tennis World 1: S Bonner & D Bishop bt N Beavers & B Parker 7-6 6-4, bt N Garton & R Love 6-4 3-6 7-6; D Marray & G Ramachandi lost to Beavers & Parker 2-6 4-6, bt Garton & Love 6-4 6-4.