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9&Under Girls County Cup

The players were thrilled that we were travelling to Wales to the Cardiff Met Tennis Academy. For me, Ant and Sofia Cancel this would be the second year running travelling to Cardiff. This being a four court indoor, University venue. Our team consisting of vice-captain Anthony Heald, Sofia Cancel, Olivia Napier, Annabelle Barnard and Fajr Khan. We faced the opponents of South Wales, Surrey and Oxfordshire.

The trip began on Saturday and the long three hour drive awaited. Once we arrived we all headed out for some team bonding and the perfect diet for tomorrow’s matches, Pizza Express.

Sunday 24th County Cup day. Arriving at the venue at 8.30am for a warm up and a reminder of Bucks tennis values humility, teamwork, and resilience.

With all the singles matches being played first. One fast four set, sudden death deuce receiver’s choice, tie-break at three all. Perhaps are toughest test up first with Surrey fielding a strong team of six players, me and Ant knew this would be a tough test. 

The three’s and fours out first. Annabelle Barnard taking on Margret D. A really nice contest with power and precision on show, well played both but Margret taking it 4-1. Playing at four Fajr Khan was taking on Ava B a slow start at first from Fajr meaning she was quickly 3-0 down. Showing plenty of resilience to fight back to bring it back to 3-2 displaying her attacking skills in moving her opponent around but in the end Ava proving too strong taking it 4-2. Ones and two next, Sofia Cancel taking on Nolwaine N. Really high quality tennis from both with Sofia often forced to defend due to her opponent’s high power game.  Sofia tried her best but went down 4-0. Olivia Napier against Lara D was the last singles with Olivia seeming a little nervous in the warm up, though she calmed her nerves and made it a real contest with some of the longest rallies so far but eventually losing 4-2, meaning pride to play for in the doubles later. 4-0 after the singles against Surrey.

The team were great at this point, me and Ant did not have to lift them at all and they were ready to compete against the next opponents South Wales. Annabelle Barnard vs Ophelia H. Annabelle played some wonderful tennis against Surrey and we had every confidence in her here. Lovely attacking tennis taking our first win of the day 4-1. Fajr Khan was playing Bethan A on the next court, with Fajr often keeping the ball in more than her opponent therefore winning 4-2. Sofia Cancel out next against Eve T, Sofia coming out all guns blazing and looking to make a statement with brilliant aggressive tennis winning 4-0. Olivia Napier vs Ada W was next and you could tell Olivia was frustrated not to win her singles against Surrey and was upset in between her match but here showed real fighting spirit winning 4-2. Thus meaning 4-0, giving us real momentum heading into the rest of the day.

Oxfordshire up next and we certainly fancied are chances here, we just needed to keep up our intensity and focus. Annabelle taking on Ayana K. Annabelle was a class above here having too much power and precision racing to a 3-0 lead. At the change of ends we spoke about keeping the intensity and not letting the opponent back in, which Annabelle duly did just that 4-0.  Fajr vs Johanna L. A tough contest for Fajr perhaps a little too cautious with her game and just could not find that balance between attack and defence a 1-4 loss. Cannot fault her effort and determination. Sofia Cancel vs Charlotte D, a close beginning with perhaps Sofia attacking too much line and making the errors. She had the beating of her opponent here just had to be patient. At 2-1 change of ends we talked about attacking across and waiting for her opportunity. Sofia did just that brilliant ending in a  4-1 victory. Last match Olivia vs Ella K. Olivia really showing off her all court game here winning points at net which was lovely to see. Her best match so far and really growing in confidence 4-1 win. 3-1 heading into the doubles.

We had a slight pause in the action. The team coming together for some fun games keeping spirits high heading into the doubles.

Doubles against Surrey first and being 0-4 down pride to play for and we were determined to try and pinch a set which no one had managed in the competition yet. Annabelle Barnard playing with Sofia Cancel at one taking on Lara D and Nolwaine N. Some brilliant action in this one with some fantastic net play in particular but Lara and Ngassam had a little too much taking it 4-0. Olivia Napier and Fajr Khan playing at two against Ava B and Ciara C. Olivia and Fajr tried everything in this one but again Surrey where just too strong taking it 4-0 and the tie overall 6-0. A tough contest for the girls but plenty to learn and improve on for the future.

Next up South Wales. We kept the teams the same as we were really proud of the teamwork and reliance shown against surrey. Sofia and Annabelle playing against Eve T and Ada W. Bucks doubles coming through here with some brilliant net play again particularly for Annabelle who really enjoyed dominating the net taking the match 4-1. Olivia and Fajr against Bethany A and Ophelia H. Some brilliant volleying again really making the difference and great team work. Well played Fajr and Olivia 4-0. Taking the tie 6-0 which we were super happy with.

The last tie started around 2pm, so around 5 hours of tennis played. The girls were in brilliant spirits taking on Oxfordshire. Sofia and Annabelle proving way too strong for Charlotte D and Ella K. The main task making sure they did not take their foot off the gas and let their opponents back in. They duly didn’t 4-0. Same with Olivia and Fajr against Ayana K and Johanna L keeping them motivated for that last push taking it 4-1 taking the tie 5-1.

Overall, myself and Ant could not have asked anymore from the girls. They were fantastic from start to finish and so proud of them all. Thank you so much to the parents for all your support throughout the weekend. Go team Bucks!      

Gavin Fowell, 9&U Girls Captain

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