Gemma Elliott-Wetton (Strength and Conditioning Coach), Lauren Mckinlay, Erika Batista-Dodridge, Emily Honor, Sophie Ivansky, Poppy King, Izzy Marshall, Lauren Armstrong, Amelia Barton, Jemima King (captain)
The trip had an eventful start as we found ourselves with a blown out tyre, hanging out in a field next to the M25 waiting for a police escort to the nearest motorway safe bay. Well the excitement and drama didn’t end there as the weekend’s competition against Hampshire, Staffordshire and Cambridgeshire left all teams with the opportunity for promotion going into the last day. Never in all of my experience of county cup competitions have I been in such a close fought group.
Day 1 we were up against Hampshire and took a 4-2 lead after the singles, with a notable win for Erika beating a younger but top-ranked Hannah Smith 6-0 6-0 and Amelia coming back from a set and 3-0 down to steal victory in the 3rd. There were forehand screaming passes, smashes, even some slice backhands on the way to victory!! Both the Laurens also picked up singles wins. 4-2 up going into the doubles we knew we needed as many matches as possible because of the level of the other counties. Pair 2 Lauren A and Erika smashed their way through for victory clinching us the win, but we were unlucky in losing the other 2 doubles rubbers. However, a win is a win and we left the centre feeling GREAT!
Day 2, Staffordshire had a strong singles line up, particularly at the top with ITF-ranked Ellie Rose Griffiths at number 1. Amelia nearly had two comebacks in a row, losing a close one 7-5 in the third and Poppy King made her county cup debut, she didn’t get the win but showed heart and desire throughout. 3-0 down, but who better than Erika to step on the court and show no mercy with a 6-2 6-0 win for Bucks. After a motivational chat, Izzy went out and played the set and a half of her life with a fantastic all-round game, Ellie needed all of her experience to get the win. Despite winning two of the doubles rubbers, we lost 6-3 and everything was possible on the final day.
Day 3 and all 4 counties could still be promoted or relegated. Sophie Ivansky made her county cup debut and came two points away from victory, a few net cords and aces under pressure ultimately proved the difference. A fantastic effort for a debut match. 3-0 down, but not out, with Izzy, Lauren A and Erika waiting to go on. Erika continued her dominance and Lauren A stepped up when the team needed her. One more to tie the match, and Izzy did just that! 3-3!!
Promotion was still possible and we knew we needed at least 2 wins to be safe. The Bucks girls always feel confident going into the doubles because of the work they’ve done leading up to the tournament in the practice sessions. 3rd pair doubles can often clinch the title and I knew that this was a BIG match which we needed. A new pairing of Amelia/Poppy found themselves 1 set all and behind in a 3rd set tiebreak, but some fantastic doubles play got the win at 10-8. This win along with Izzy/Lauren showing their doubles class by winning 0&0 meant we were in contention for promotion. Unfortunately, even though we beat Hampshire they had more rubbers than us and we came 2nd by the smallest of margins.
A successful weekend where everyone in the team contributed. We have a young team with everyone still eligible to play next year. We will be back on our journey to Group 1.