This year the Bucks 14s boys team were competing in Boston; when they heard this some were expecting to go by plane. Unfortunately (or fortunately depending on whether you are a school headmaster), the venue was closer to home than its American namesake.
Due in part to the requests of those headmaster’s, we had to travel up on the Saturday morning and play only doubles on the first day, against on paper the strongest team, Yorkshire. Despite our boys best efforts, we lost out in straight sets in both rubbers leaving us 0-2 down going into the singles the next morning.
We did however get one win on day 1 as Umar played some solid, dependable tennis to take out Lincolnshire’s number 5 in a practice match!
After a team bonding meal at Pizza hut, some entertainment from Umar and Oli who insisted on tackling the most intense fairground ride I have ever seen and a great nights sleep, the team were inspired to produce some superb performances on Day 2.
With Yorkshire’s excellent strength in depth we were always under pressure, especially at 0-2 down. Josh and Nick gave their best at 3 & 4 but it wasn’t to be and the tie was lost.
This disappointment wasn’t felt by Miles and Joel though who prevented a whitewash and took out Yorkshire’s 1 and 2 in their singles matches. Despite serving under-arm, Miles beat Jack Bachelor (National Number 16) 6-4, 6-0 in a display of control and purpose – finishing off with one of the shots of the weekend, a superb two-hander down the line. Joel hustled from a set down against Joe Fletcher (National Number 24 and Semi Finalist at the recent Tennis Europe in Nottingham) 1-6, 6-3, 6-0 showing his class in the final set by manoeuvring his opponent around the court and forcing errors. Awesome displays by both players and how different this tie could have looked had it been played in the normal format with doubles after singles.
Indeed, everyone on the team got a win on day 2, with Miles, Joel and Josh smashing Staffordshire’s 1,2 & 3 in straight sets, Josh and Nick winning at 1st pair doubles and debutant Oli taking out Staffordshire’s number 4 in three sets before teaming up with his Fairground side-kick Umar to win comfortably in the doubles. A 6-0 win is always nice!
The final day was a 3rd/4th place playoff against Cumbria and we went into the tie with great confidence. We warmed up for the match with a game of football on the grass where the best team lost, and unfortunately that was to be an omen for the rest of the day.
Following a rain delay Josh, playing at 3 and Nick, playing at 4 went on for their singles. Josh had a tough match against a far older, much bigger and stronger boy, and despite producing some great shot making lost out to an opponent who was undefeated in singles over the weekend. Nick had a real battle – he had plenty of chances in the first set but dropped it on the tie-break before coming back strong to win the second comfortably. The third was full of long rallies and disappointingly Nick was edged out.
The performance of the weekend came next – Joel was up against a top 35 National player and in a display of calm, controlled and tactically astute tennis, totally blew him away in less than an hour, without dropping a single game! The double bagel is often sought, but rarely achieved – sponsorship from the New York Bagel Co. has been requested. Great work Joel.
Miles battled on against the Cumbria number 1 in a fierce three set contest where he came up just short and that left us needing a miracle in the doubles.
We nearly got it with Joel and Josh combining well to defeat Josh’s singles opponent and partner in a match tie-break third set before Miles and Nick were edged out against a strong first pair long after all the other teams had left.
We may not quite have achieved what we set out to on court; just falling short against two tough teams, but all the boys displayed great team spirit and put in some excellent performances which bode well for the future of Bucks county.
Team: Darren Emery (captain), Roy Knight (assistant), Nicholas Blagg, Joshua Bright, Joel Good, Miles Groom, Umar Gull, Oliver Mccay-Brown