Boys Under 18 County Cup 2020
At Edgbaston Priory Club Group 5a 27th February to 1st March
Team: 1. Joel Good (Halton) 2. Miles Groom (Bisham) 3. Oliver McCay-Brown (Halton), 4. Dylan Smith (Milton Keynes) 5. Dan Dean (Halton Loughborough University) 6. Lucca Vujasevic (Bisham), 7. Calum Fairey (Halton), 8. William Mercer (Bradfield College) Manager / Coach Andy Scholfield (BTC) Assistant Ed Taylor (Halton)
Andy’s Quote: ‘This has to be one of the best tennis events for this age-group because they are supporting each other, socialising together and playing the game they love in a highly charged, exciting environment’.
The venue provided excellent facilities which were used to the maximum by all the managers / coaches and teams. Each tie ran from 9am to 5pm each day with teams warming up and preparing for their matches from 8am. We were able to do a team stretch down at the end of each day.
Each match consists of six singles matches followed by three doubles (two tie-break sets followed by match tie-break and no-add deuce). The captain and assistant are allowed on court to communicate with the players at the change of ends; often staying on court for many games.
After good preparation on Thursday at Bucks Indoor and again on the Edgbaston Priory courts I was feeling fairly confident but knew, as always, there would be many challenges ahead; not only on court (I was so right).
Against Shropshire we realized they were strong at the top of the order; without putting pressure on, we needed to start the day well.
At number 6 Lucca Vujasevic started very nervously and with only 20% consistency on his 1st serve, he played a nail-biter eventually staying aggressive in his play to win 7-5 7-5 against an unorthodox opponent. Calum Fairey made a fantastic debut showing great positive intensity to destroy his opponent Matt Weaver 6-1 6-3 and then teamed up with Joel to secure a second pair, three set doubles victory 6-4 5-7 10-4. Dylan Smith surprisingly playing inconsistently lost his 1st set but with awesome self-belief, outmaneuvered his opponent to win in three sets 4-6 6-0 6-3 (Dylan was heard to comment ‘I probably should have trained more’).
Miles played excellent tennis against Tom Loxley at number 2 showing great defensive qualities and Nadal like play using his left handed inside out forehand and accuracy onto his opponent’s backhand. He improved his serve accuracy, defensive play and consistency to bounce back in the second set and improving his performance level in each set; dominated the third set with great attacking play; storming to 2-6 7-5 6-1 victory.
Ollie McCay-Brown, at number 3 orchestrated an amazing comeback. After a disastrous, error strewn, 1st set he showed much better discipline and cut out unforced errors to win a grueling match 1-6 6-1 7-5
An astonishing comeback performance by Joel Good our number 1 player, after being 2-4 down in 3rd set to win 7-5 against Roan Jones ranked number 60 at under 18, 15 places above Joel.
Will Mercer also a debutant due to Miles’s elbow injury, faced stiff doubles opposition at 1st pair. He and Ollie battled hard but succumbed to the strong opponents. Dylan and Lucca won fairly comfortably at 3rd pair in the doubles; Joel and Calum gelled very well to come through 10-4 in match tie-break at second pair.
So an awesome display; winning 5 three set matches against Shropshire.
8-1 to Bucks on the first day, left me with a feeling of relief and pride in our performances.
I drove the Mini Bus into Birmingham Centre primarily to meet hard hitting Dan Dean fresh from his Chemistry Lab assessment at Loughborough University. Fortunately, Ed was excellent with google maps and we eventually found a car park which had no height restriction on entry! We ate at Wagamamas and on return to the Car park realized we could not possibly get the bus under the low ceilinged exit! Fortunately, Ed persuaded the on line attendant to allow us back out through the entrance. A further trip to Tesco’s also caused problems for the driver!
Our team awards for this first day: Performance of the day Miles; comeback of the day Ollie; shot of the day Ollie for his between legs volley. Overall performer Calum for his great energy, dominant singles and excellent positioning with his doubles play.
The highlight of the speech by joint captain Dylan: ‘I love playing County Cup, it is the highlight of my year’
Verses Wiltshire 9-0, 18 sets to 0. Not much more needed to say. I believe this as Bucks County’s biggest ever County Cup under 18 boys win (in a hundred years, or however long it has been running for?).
We had worked with Lucca and certainly his level of play was even better winning 6-2 6-0. Dylan was looking even more lethargic but won 7-5 6-0 and our top two Joel and Miles played very professionally to win comfortably. Despite four ill-disciplined games Ollie won 6-3 6-2. Calum continued his excellent start to his under 18 career teaming up with Lucca to win 7-5 6-1.
Our awards: performance of the day and shot of the day (for forehand cross-court passing shot) Joel, overall performance Lucca.
We had learnt from the previous evening and decided to go for dinner at TGI Fridays which was 200 yards away from our Premier Inn but was a late booking. On arriving back at the hotel; two of our rooms were sandwiching a room full of adults having a swinging party. Fortunately, the hotel manager was very assertive and asked them to be quiet and asked the 20 people to leave the room. I was able to move Dylan and Miles to another floor but Lucca was woken at 3am with very loud behavior.
Dan Dean gave a speech as joint Captain the previous night (bearing in mind two years ago he had told everybody how weak the opposition were and we’d be promoted (we were relegated)), saying how much he enjoyed County Cup and said he was looking forward to a 9-0 win which I cringed at.
We bossed our opponents initially by arriving early and warming up effectively.
Calum returned as number six and responded with great energy, focus and speed; neutralising and attacking when able, to storm to a 6-1 6-1 victory. Dan Dean at number five got into a spot of bother with his opponent Jay Darvay but managed to pull through with his greater shot power 6-3 7-6. On the adjacent court Dylan was doing his best to try to lose the match but hung on. He was obviously tired from his previous day’s efforts and his opponent was a very consistent left-handed player so the match-up in player style was tough for Dylan. At 5-7 5-6 down Dylan suddenly saw the fear and reacted with much better energy saving set point and winning the tie-break in style. However, he was broken in the first game of the second set but kept plugging away and seeing his opponent tiring fought through to win the third set 6-4 from 3-4 much to his opponent’s frustration. A huge bonus was the unexpected win by Ollie McCay-Brown 6-3 4-6 6-3 against Jed Platts. Our top two players comfortably defeated their respective opponents to keep their unbeaten record for the event in tact.
Our superiority was further emphasised when all three doubles were won in extraordinary manner when Avon’s three pairs each played one point and then retired. At least this gave our players ranking points as opposed to their opponents not stepping on court. ( I thought tennis was a game to be enjoyed no matter the circumstances).
Therefore, a great event culminating in 26-1 match domination giving the Boys Under 18 County Team their biggest-ever County Cup win in the history of the event.
Our team spirit and camaraderie was amazing; all players loved the experience. All our players tried to play their best and fought for every ball; they learnt from this great experience and I know will be very motivated to represent our County in the future and continue to improve their tennis.
Overview: To improve Mid-court / ¾ court attack (build); depth of shot; serve-volley; doubles positioning; resilience has improved, energy, ability to adapt game-style; serve accuracy; volley variation; choice of shot.
My sincere thanks goes to the whole team squad and reserves, Ed Taylor in his role as vice-Captain, Jemima, Anthony and Venetia (for excellent admin and support), Bucks Indoor for training sessions, and player’s parents, in particular Sue Mccay-Brown who attended the whole event.
See Twitter @andytennace and Facebook Andy Scholfield for video / photo footage
Andy Scholfield 4th March 2020
Bucks U18 County Cup Captain Boys