Team: Alison Longfield (non-playing captain), Jemima King (playing captain), Helen Adams, Lauren Armstrong, Celia Cornforth, Lereesa Easterbrook, Isabelle Marshall, Lauren Mckinlay, Alice Patch and Georgie Sanders.
Another year of County Week but this time a new venue .. Cromer, Norfolk. Cold and wet – our English summer not at its best… It was a week of juggling showers, managing injuries, Championship tiebreaks and battling Swans…
Monday 24th July v Hampshire & Isle of Wight
Off we go .. Our first Bucks win came courtesy of Alice & Georgie 6-4, 6-0 within the hour. Yay! Jemima & Lereesa came out fighting but eventually went down in a tight 3 setter and Lauren A & Izzy were just edged out too. Then the rains came and the theme for the week kicked in – third set championship tie breaks to keep the event moving. When we eventually got back on court, Lereesa & Jemima cruised to their first win 6-1, 6-0 and Izzy & Lauren A took their champ tiebreak to 8-10. 2-4 down at the end of the day. Rain stopped play! Round 3 on Tuesday morning saw Lauren Mckinlay coming in to the team, using the super sub rule – 2 subs this year – and beating Hampshire’s 3rd pair with Izzy. Jemima & Lereesa lost another nail biter 9-11 in the third. The match was a story of what ifs – we could so easily have been 6-3 winners rather than 3-6 runners up. Team spirit still all there though…
Tuesday 25th July v Cheshire
Day Two was so so close again. We finally started after 12pm. The first round saw Lauren & Izzy just edged out in yet another Championship tiebreak while Lereesa & Jemima stacked up another solid win. Round 2 was where the excitement came – Alice & Georgie winning a topsy turvy tiebreak 14-12. Awesome! 2-4 down again though meant we needed to take all three rubbers in the third round – a tall order! We gave it a go though.. Lereesa & Jemima beat a scratch Cheshire third pair 6-2, 6-0. Celia then came in to fight hard with Georgie, going down 2-6, 4-6. Dealing our trump card, Lauren M, we gained another victory, with Izzy 10-2 in the last set. But it just wasn’t quite enough. A 4-5 loss but fighting hard!
Wednesday 26th July v Yorkshire
Best day of the week! Phenomenal excitement! For the first time this week we ended Round 1 in a 2-1 lead. Lereesa & Jemima picked up a 6-4, 6-3 win and Izzy & Lauren M our “don’t split us up, we are on a high” partnership, fought to yet another tiebreak 3rd set win! Still dodging the heavy showers, Lauren A & Georgie were the only pair to pick up a win in the second round, a solid 6-4, 6-4. That meant a 3-3 impasse at lunch! All to play for! Tactically deciding to stick with the same 3 pairs we went into battle .. Lauren A & Georgie fell to the Yorkshire first pair, just losing out 4-6 in the second set. I thought they had it! Jemima & Lereesa dropped their first set, took the second and then won a nerve racking (for me anyway!) 10-6 tiebreak! 4-4! That left Izzy & Lauren M still on court. Superbly, from a set and 1-5 down, the turnaround of the week happened! Saving 6 match points along the way, they clawed their way back into the match,. They eventually took the second set 9-7 on a tiebreak and gloriously came through 10-6 in the third set with Celia and Yvonne Shaw encouraging them all the way from the side lines. What a 5-4 win! So proud of two 16 year olds battling hard for Bucks! The future is bright!
Thursday 27th July v Essex
A not-so fabulous Day 4 for Bucks, despite a lot of effort across the board. An injured knee put Lauren A on the bench and saw Celia coming in at the last moment. Playing with Georgie, they started brilliantly, beating the Essex third pair, but the other two first round matches ended in tight losses. Round 2 saw defeat in all 3 matches and despite Lereesa & Jemima picking up another rubber in Round 3 and our super sub Helen Adams teaming up with Izzy to only just lose 8-10 in the final set tiebreak, the day ended 2-7. Realistically it was a day we needed to grind out a win to stay safe in Group 2. It was not to be.
Friday 28th July v Norfolk
The last day saw the Swans taking on a strong Norfolk team gunning for promotion. Last year we beat them 8-1. This year they had gained three more strong players. We mixed the team up to challenge where we could, but having lost Jemima back home for work and Lauren “I’ll do it for the team” Armstrong & Izzy “my hand doesn’t hurt” Marshall, the only pair to pick up a rubber, we realised our time was up.
Overall the lady swans came sixth! Norfolk and Essex went up and Hampshire were relegated with us. More maternity leave, new jobs and players competing abroad was the story, with our young guns competing but finding it tough. Cheerio Group 2. We will bounce back in 2018. Huge thanks to our loyal band of supporters and a big thumbs up to Izzy Marshall who thoroughly deserved the Francis Charlton Trophy this year for her sterling play on court and her solid team ethos and enthusiasm for life off it!