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County Week 2022: Ladies Group 4 at Havant

TEAM Lauren Armstrong (Bath University, Halton), Laura Deigman (Roehampton), Izzy Marshall (University of Oxford, Halton), Lauren McKinlay (Loughborough University, Halton), Georgie Sanders (Halton), Alexa Wilson (Halton), Scarlett Perkins (Living Tennis, Halton), Millie Day (Halton), Aneka Patel (GXBL, Living Tennis) Captain Jemima King (Halton)

Day 1 – Bucks vs Lincolnshire 4-5

Despite the scorching temperatures on the grass courts at Havant the team were ready for the first day and it was great to see three new players join the team for their first county week, juniors Millie Day, Aneka Patel and Scarlett Perkins. There was a change in format with sudden death deuce (due to the heat) and 3rd set tie-breaks. The team took a racing lead and went 3-0 up after the first round. It might look easy on paper, but it wasn’t with Alexa and Scarlett winning 10-8 in the 3rd set. Unfortunately, Scarlett became unwell and had to be subbed off and the team didn’t see her on the court again until Thursday, so Lauren McKinlay stepped up. The second round was as tight as the first with Lauren and Alexa losing 10-7 in the 3rd and Aneka and Izzy losing a tight 7-5 7-6. So, 3-3 into the 3rd round. Millie and Georgie got their 2nd win of the day to take Bucks to 4-3 up but Izzy and Aneka were defeated. 4-4 and into the 3rd set we go again with Alexa and Lauren. Sadly, it was not meant to be and the swans lost 10-6. A tough day in the heat but some superb gutsy performances on day 1. Despite the loss the team were in good spirits and once bags were dropped at the hotel the team went to the beach for the traditional ice sea bath!

Day 2 – Bucks vs Sussex 4-5

We knew it was going to be a battle both on the court and off the court with the heat. Cool bags and umbrellas in hand the players took to the courts. Izzy and Aneka continued their partnership with a first-round win, and we lost two extremely close matches with Millie and Georgie defeated 10-6 in the 3rd set. These 3rd set and sudden death points were proving crucial. Round 2 no change for team Bucks, with another close 3 setter lost to go 5-1 down. Laura Deigman managed to make it after a morning at work and helped the swans win all three matches in the final round. Another close battle but we knew it was going to be a week where every match counted. Off to the sea the team went.

Day 3 – Bucks vs Berkshire 7-2

The team lined up with Millie and Georgie losing to a strong 1st pair and Izzy and Aneka, Alexa and Laura both sweeping up wins. 2-1 for the good and we thought it would be nice to extend the lead and that is what the swans did. A quick round with all 3 pairs picking up a win. 5-1 after 2 rounds and victory sealed. However, we had one more round and we knew promotion and demotion could come down to matches won. A solid last round with one defeat to the 1st pair meant a 7-2 victory. First victory of the week and it felt good. Victory swim for the team.

Day 4 – Bucks vs South Wales 8-1

Day 4 and thankfully the temperature had dropped. South Wales were yet to pick up a win so we knew if we could win today that we would almost secure our safety in the group and still a hope of being promoted. Lauren Armstrong joined the team straight from her graduation at Bath University. New line up with Millie Day having left the team to go on holiday and Lauren coming in. The old pairing of Izzy and Lauren A joined forces and picked up 3 wins throughout the day. Laura and Alexa continued their successful pairing and made light work of their opponents. Aneka and Georgie won their first match and Georgie then rested for the remaining matches with Scarlett back from illness and ready to play. The young pairing of Aneka and Scarlett put in a fantastic performance to beat the South Wales 2nd pair. Aneka was then rested, and Lauren M and Scarlett fought hard but couldn’t quite get the win. A very good day on the books for the swans and great support from the side-lines with Noah King acting as mascot for the day.

Day 5 – Bucks vs Derbyshire 7-2

We knew promotion was mathematically possible but unlikely with the other counties match ups on day 5. Derbyshire were topping the group and we knew it was going to be a challenge as it always is with Derbs. Torrential rain showers meant we only managed 3 games on the grass before running for the clubhouse. It was announced no play on the grass for the rest of the day and onto the soggy clay courts. I think the juniors were pleased with this court change up. You would think that the 3-hour delay may have made it tough to get going but not for the swans. We went with the same pairings as we started with on Thursday and all 3 pairs got the win in devasting fashion. 3-0 to Bucks. Due to the delay rounds 2 and 3 would be short sets. This didn’t seem to affect the team winning 2 out of 3 matches and seeing a new pairing of Alexa and Scarlett beating the Derbs 2nd pair 4-0 4-0! 5-1 to Bucks and the win. We had to finish off the match to finalise the standings. It did get exciting when we thought S Wales might clinch a win over Lincs which would mean Bucks would be promoted. However, this was a fleeting moment and Lincs beat S Wales with Bucks finishing 7-2 versus Derbyshire. Despite Bucks winning 3 more matches than the top 2 teams Lincs and Derbs had 4 wins and Bucks only 3.

The team remain in Group 4 but what a great week and so close to being promoted for the second year in a row. We know we are in the building years and this year we are one step closer. Great to see three juniors join the team, learn, get better each day and love being part of the team. Hopeful for the future.

Jemima King

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