So a very exciting trip to Woodford wells which was even better by knowing it was only an hour away, we travel down on the Friday so the girls can spend some time bonding as a team and getting ready for the event ahead, with 4 counties to play in 3 days, they there is going to be some long days ahead. With Bethan Miles, Natalie Bell, Amelia Howie and Keya Das playing in their first year of being in the 14s and with Chloe Wright making her County debut, we had a young squad all growing off the experience of this event. Sofia Wise was the only player to have done this event before so without asking and naturally took on the role of off court captain, helping the other girls with being away from family and helping to explain how the event works.
Day 1 we have Suffolk and Norfolk, we are first to arrive and so set up camp in the best supporting location and then get on court for the warm up. These 2 matches were very similar, with most of their girls bigger and stronger it was a fantastic opportunity for the girls to learn to use their skills and learn how to play in different ways, Bethan Miles playing at 1 losing the first set 6-1 showed amazing fight and “embracing her leftyness” to get a very good opponent to a 2nd set tie breaker with chances to win this set but her opponent composed herself at the big moments and won the tie breaker. Sofia wise had a tough match at number 2 losing 6-1 6-0, her opponent was just to consistent and to strong. Natalie Bell put in a massive performance at three to win her singles 6-2 6-4 showing great fight and intelligence at the vital moments of each set. Keya Das suffering from a wrist injury struggled to find her top form and went down 6-2 6-1. The doubles is where once again the girls showed how much they love being part of the team and working together, showing great net play and the desire to keep moving forward knowing that it will pay off later in the event, Natalie Bell & Bethan Miles lost out 6-1 6-3, Amelia Howie and Sofia Wise lost out 6-3 6-1. Which means lost the tie to Norfolk 1-5.
Against Suffolk the girls had a bit of the second match blues, playing these singles matches straight after the singles against Norfolk, this was Suffolk’s first match of the day, and the mental and physical freshness showed, with a quick turnaround between matches as we had 4 matches to play, Bethan Miles went down 6-1 6-2 but was fried from her efforts in the singles against Suffolk, started to play some great tennis towards the end but just ran out of time to bring it back. Sofia Wise again coming up against a big hard hitting opponent lost 6-0 6-0 but in a lot of effort to and never stopped running for the ball. Natalie Bell again looking a bit more mentally tired than physically, but kept working hard lost 6-2 6-2 against a girl who was twice her size. Chloe Wright then made her county debut, with a lot of nerves and tension she lost the first set 6-1, but after getting that out of her system really settled in and looked like she was enjoying the pressure of the county cup, playing some great tennis with big serving and big forehands to really push her opponent in the second just losing out 6-4. Into the doubles we went, once again the girls showed amazing energy and a real desire to move forward and even looking to poach returns and in the rally. Bethan and Natalie lost 6-3 7-5, but showed real skill staying mentally strong enjoying the opportunity to play against the hard-hitting girls. Amelia Howie teamed up with Chloe wright putting in a great performance in the first set with some great serving and net play just losing out 7-5, their opponents confidence then grew and stormed the 2nd 6-0.
So we lost to Suffolk 6-0. This was a very long first day and would just like to say a massive thank you to all the parents that came down and supported and kept spirits and food levels high, and to all the team from the girls and Jemima King showing the true meaning of what it is to be part of a team, both on and off court.
So onto day 2 we go and on paper is the best match up and chance of a win for Bucks, we take on South wales. Starting at 9am there were a few tired eyes and legs, but after a good breakfast and warm up based on fun and getting the girls smiling and working as a team they were ready for the fight.
Bethan Miles played for me the most exciting and tense singles match of the weekend, the match went back and forth and was on so long that at the end of the match all the girls from both teams were supporting and enjoying watching the match unfold. Bethan just lost out 6-3 7-5, but to put in this level of mental and physical strength after playing 4 matches on the Saturday showed me and the team just what was expected in terms of attitude and intensity. Sofia wise once again came up against a girl just crushing the ball and not looking like missing and she lost 6-0 6-2. Natalie Bell out feisty number 3 played a match which came down to who won the first set, really digging in and playing with courage when getting the short ball Natalie won the set 7-5, Natalie’s confidence then went up and won the second set 6-1. Chloe Wright had a tough match but stuck with her game and tried to make things happen but was just missing and went down 6-1 6-2, so we were 3-1 down after the singles.
The doubles is where Bucks come into their own and all the work and willingness to come forward and play proactive doubles really payed off in the big moments, Bethan & Natalie lost a hard fought for first set 3-6, but they didn’t let this affect their mental attitude and came out with more energy and willingness to take the match to their opponents and won the second set 6-4, they kept this attitude through the 3rd set tie breaker winning it 10-6. Sofia wise and Amelia Howie not to be out down by the other pair really showed great team work and energy coming through their match 7-5 2-6 10-7. So into the match tie breaker we go, you have to use one player from both doubles pairs, so Bethan Miles and Sophia Wise teamed up. They thrived in this pressure situation moving forward well and taking the net and volleying like demons, they were 9-3 up in a flash, they closed it out with a great volley and the team then flooded onto the court to celebrate the victory. So the score was 3-3 with us winning in the shootout.
The last day we came up against Hampshire and IOW they had already secured wining the group but did this did not mean they were not up for getting the clean sweep, it was a real battle of David vs Goliath with most of the girls getting neck problems just saying hello to their opponents, but on this occasion Goliath won with their top 3 in the top 20 in the country in the age group. so we went down 4-0 after the singles, then as it began to rain the girls still wanted to play their doubles just showing that even after a long weekend their desire to play and learn on the court had not diminished. We lost to Hampshire and IOW 6-0.
Was a great weekend away with a lot of confidence built for next year’s event. Would just like to say a massive thank you to my two vice-captains Jemima King and Sophie Bell and to all the parents who came down and supported, your energy and input was so vital to the team. Then to the team you were all brilliant and looking forward to seeing you all on a tennis court again soon.