U11 Girls County Cup
Team: Ella Insley, Isabella Buhrkohl, Astrid Andersen, Gracie Tickler, Maddie Bergrova
Captain: Tom Edis
Assistant: Josh Greenway
Group H: Buckinghamshire, Bedfordshire, Berkshire, Suffolk, Oxfordshire
Venue: Great Missenden
A strong Bucks team went into their 11u county cup qualifying event with 4 other counties after Norfolk disappointingly had to pull out late on. Each fixture would comprise of 4 singles and 2 doubles rubbers.
First up on Saturday was a tough assignment against Berkshire. Astrid and Maddie got Bucks off to the best possible start with identical scorelines – 4-0 4-3 – versus Suzana and Aanya respectively. Ella and Isabella couldn’t quite keep the momentum going however. Ella missed some chances in her 4-3 4-0 reverse to Nishta, and Isabella found no way past Kiara, with the Berks girl taking the rubber 4-0 4-2. With the tie poised at 2-2, it was all to play for in the doubles.
Before that Bucks took on Bedfordshire in the singles. Maddie continued her excellent form against Lara, with an easy 4-0 4-1 win, and Gracie – so good in the 10u county cup the previous month – stepped in to play Beds #3 Joelle, brilliantly coming through in the match tie break 4-1 2-4 10-7. With Astrid blowing Quinn away 4-1 4-0 and Ella re-gaining her form in a 4-1 4-2 win against Nadia, it was fantastic the tie was done and dusted going into the doubles later in the day.
Berkshire were very strong in the doubles. Veronika and Aanya played solidly and consistently against Maddie and Isabella, who made a few too many unforced errors. The 4-2 4-1 win for Berkshire ramped up the pressure on Ella and Astrid who would take on Nishta and Kiara in a great match filled with brilliant reactions and net play from both pairs. A valiant effort from the Bucks pair would sadly end in a defeat, as Berks took the rubber – and therefore the match 4-2 overall – 4-3 4-1.
Despite that disappointment the girls were determined to finish day 1 with a flourish against Beds. Bella and Gracie took on Joelle and Lara and won convincingly 4-1 4-2, and Astrid and Maddie rounded the day off with a hard-fought but deserved 1-4 4-1 10-4 victory over Nadia and Quinn.
A really long day, but a successful one set Bucks up nicely for Sunday morning…
With Bella unfortunately not feeling well enough to play, Bucks’ 2 matches against Suffolk and Oxfordshire were contested with just the 4 remaining girls in the team. They didn’t disappoint!
Maddie cruised to a 4-0 4-0 win versus Suffolk’s Emer, which was followed up with Gracie comprehensively seeing off Clara 4-1 4-1. Astrid then raced into a 3-0 lead against Holly and playing outstandingly. Equally impressive was the Suffolk girl’s response, turning the set right around to take it on a tie break, and then following that up with a hard fought second set to take the rubber 4-3 4-2. However, Bucks’ disappointment here was soon eased when Ella took Holly apart in the final singles rubber 4-3 4-1.
That just left Oxfordshire to tackle in the singles before the doubles started. Maddie reinforced once again what a strong #4 she was by easily beating Emily 4-0 4-1, and Gracie completed an excellent yellow ball county debut in her convincing 4-2 4-0 win over Rosie.
Astrid then had arguably the battle of the weekend versus stubborn and hard-hitting Sofia; playing her best tennis of the weekend to come back from dropping the first set on a tie break, the Bucks girl roared through the second to take it 4-0, forcing the match tie break. With momentum on her side, Astrid would be up 5-2 and then 8-5, before Sofia really dug in and somehow turned the match around again to dramatically take it 10-8, and thus making the overall score 2-1 to Bucks.
Enter Ella once more to calmly step in and deliver another super-mature performance to defeat Aaliyah 4-3 4-0, despite quite a scare in the first set when she too had to come from behind.
Therefore with both matches having Bucks 3-1 ahead, the girls felt confident with the doubles coming.
Remarkably, both doubles rubbers versus Suffolk took on near identical patterns, with Maddie and Gracie beating Clara and Holly 4-0 4-2 10-5, and Astrid and Ella eventually asserting their superiority in their 4-0 0-4 10-6 triumph against Emer and Holly.
As Berkshire had already beaten Oxfordshire, Bucks knew a win over the same opponent would give them a satisfying 2nd place finish overall in the group. The reliable Maddie and Gracie settled the tie (and any lasting nerves!) by putting away Rosie and Emily in 2 tie break sets 4-3 4-3, leaving Ella and Astrid to enjoy themselves in the final (and very late!) match of the weekend against Aaliyah and Sofia.
Despite obvious fatigue being a factor for both pairs, parents and coaches alike were treated to an entertaining encounter that swung back and forth. Alas, the Bucks pair couldn’t quite take it – despite real chances to do so – being pipped at the last 4-3 2-4 10-8.
The 4-2 victory over Oxfordshire rewarded Bucks with a runners-up spot that was thoroughly deserved. Only fine margins prevented the girls from getting the points they needed to overcome eventual group winners Berkshire. Yet the team should be very proud of their efforts, as well as the fantastic atmosphere within the group that’s been cultivated over the last 2 years, and is set to continue as the girls become 12u players next year.