Bucks Men stay in Division 4

Wednesday, December 28, 2011
Bucks Men stay in Division 4

Winter County Cup 2011 – Report


Aidan Graveson (c)
Peter Thorne
Owen Richards
James Gammell
Gavin McKinlay
Jack Moredy
Josh Spring
Steve Sumpter

With some notable big guns missing from the Winter Bucks team this year, we ventured down to Newport, South Wales to compete in Division 4 of the men’s competition with one of the youngest teams for years, with four of the eight man team making their senior county debuts.

Day 1 saw the Swans line up against a strong Cornwall team who had just pipped Bucks to promotion in the summer. It was a strong start as Josh Spring of Milton Keynes put in an impressive performance by demolishing the Cornish number 6 in two straight sets. Bucks young gun Gavin McKinlay, making his debut for Bucks on his 18th birthday had a tight match at five. After levelling from a set down with a 6-0 second set, G-Mac couldn’t quite keep the momentum in his direction narrowly losing out by one break in the third to a more experienced and very solid player. James Gammell of Chesham was next to take to the battle field where he would face Matthew Trudgeon, the conqueror of a certain Andy Roddick from a few years back in the 3rd Round of Junior Wimbledon. It was always going to be tough for James to stay with his opponent but he was battling well and there was only one break in it when just going for a simple mid court approach shot, the Cornish number 4 collapsed on the ground in agony. It became apparent very quickly that this match was not going to continue and the injury was a serious one. Eventually the ambulance arrived and the diagnosis from the paramedics was a snapped achilles tendon, requiring an operation, a cast, and a 6-12 month recovery/rehabilitation period. If you ever needed a reminder to warm up, stretch and look after yourself, especially when playing sport, this was it. The top three singles were all far less eventful and I am sad to report that not one set was chalked up for the Swans as the Cornish top order steam rolled to a 4-2 lead going into the doubles. It was going to be a big ask to turn this around as Bucks would need to win all three doubles to snatch victory.  All three matches were well fought affairs, Team MK (Josh Spring & Steve Sumpter) narrowly lost out in a champions tiebreak decider followed by the junior pairing of Jack Moredy and Gavin McKinlay going down in two tight sets to the Cornish second pair. A small consolation revenge victory was achieved through Aidan and Pete who managed to take down the Cornish first pair whom they had lost to in the summer to narrowly miss out on promotion. The final score was Cornwall 6, Buckinghamshire 3.

Day 2 and the Swans would face Suffolk who had beaten Hereford & Worcestershire on day 1. Steve Sumpter was introduced to the singles arena, lining up alongside the other half of Team MK, Josh Spring. Josh was looking confident as the match started and the team were sure that he would once again give the Swans the winning start they needed. Two points into the match and disaster hits. Sliding out to a wide forehand, Josh goes over on his ankle which was swollen up to the size of a mini football within minutes. This match was over at 15-15 in the first game as Josh was forced to retire. Sidelined but in good voice, Josh delayed his hospital visit to support doubles partner Sumpter who was in a tight battle and was forcing the pace winning the first set with some great serving. The Suffolk player raised his game in sets two and three and Steve eventually went down in three sets. James Gammell was involved in high quality game with Suffolk number 4 and highly ranked junior, losing by a break in each set. Owen Richards at 3 and Aidan Graveson at 1 provided little resistance both going down in straight sets to their respective opponents, but the match and performance of the day came from Pete Thorne of Halton. Pete played some fantastic tennis to overcome his opponent who was fresh back fresh back from the US NCAA college tennis circuit 6-4 in the final set. The match was over at this stage with Suffolk having a 5-1 lead going into the doubles. The number 1 and 2 doubles were forfeited by Suffolk and the final doubles saw Sumpter and Gammell line up due to the injury to Spring. This new Bucks pairing put in an encouraging performance but narrowly lost out in a champion’s tiebreak third set. Final score on day two was a flattering Suffolk 6, Buckinghamshire 3. 

Buckinghamshire Men, for the second year running in the winter competition would be in a relegation dog fight, this year with fellow strugglers Hereford & Worcestershire. It is always difficult to get out of a losing habit but following a good meal out in Cardiff the team looked particularly focused on the Sunday morning with a steely determination on each of the team’s faces. Sumpter was first on and put in a great display of heavy hitting to knock down his opponent in two sets. Gavin McKinlay looked inspired and did not miss a ball in a perfect 6-0 first set. He kept his foot on the gas and rolled his opponent over 6-0, 6-3. The next two matches were going to be crucial and provided some fantastic drama. James Gammell took out the H&W number 4 in two tiebreak sets finally holding his nerve converting his 8th match point in a see-saw second set tiebreak 15-13, while Owen Richards stylishly hit through his opponent at number three in two close sets. The top two singles both went the way of H&W but the Swans were looking confident needing only one of the three remaining doubles matches for the win. Gavin and Jack lost out to a very experienced pair, but played some great doubles and will be a force to be reckoned with at future county competitions. Sumpter and Gammell were locked in a tight first set tiebreak eventually taking it and firmly hammering in that first nail in the H&W coffin. Aidan and Peter went on in very determined fashion, annihilating the first pair 6-2 6-0 to seal victory, Division 4 safety and slamming that coffin door firmly shut. Sumpter and Gammel wrapped their doubles up and day 3 final score was a much happier, Buckinghamshire 6, Hereford & Worcestershire 3.

Overall, securing safety in this division was a great achievement and there were many positives to take from the weekend’s tennis. It was great to see two more juniors (Gavin and Jack) breaking into the senior team and contributing with hugely positive performances. A couple of new strong doubles pairings to give the Swans a few more options thinking ahead to the big summer county week event in July was also encouraging.

A big thank you to all the team who gave up their time to compete so the county. I look forward to seeing you all over the spring-summer period in preparation for the next event.

Aidan Graveson
Men’s Team Captain



Bucks Indoor Tennis Centre
Holmers Lane
High Wycombe
Buckinghamshire HP12 4QA
01494 471238