On Sunday 27th February the Bucks U8 county team travelled to Stevenage to play in the eight counties event. In the event Bucks were to play Herts, Beds, Norfolk, Suffolk, Essex, Cambs and Northants. The team consisted of 6 boys and 6 girls that would play their opposite number from every other county in a 10 minute timed match.
The girls event was first with the Bucks team of Alexa Wilson, Olivia Scarles, Emma Savage, Alice Taylor, Ellie Stoppps and Ellie Perkin arriving at 9.30am all looking apprehensive and excited. Well almost everyone, as Alice Taylorwas rushing back from Paris having got delayed on a train in the middle of France the day before! By the time of the first match Alice was back in England and was making her way from London to Stevenage. Our first opponents were Northants and all the players seemed closely matched with great rallies taking place. Bucks ended up winning 4 out of the 6 matches but lost on points overall and in this competition the points won were being counted and not the match wins. It was demoralising for the players to know they had lost on points as 3 out of the 4 matches Bucks had won were won by just 1 point and the players battled extremely hard for those wins! Next up was Bedfordshire that had a very strong team, beating Bucks 110pts to 61 with Ellie Stopps at number 5 getting the only Bucks win. After this defeat the parents, Emily Quinn (the 2nd captain) and myself worked hard to rally the players as some of the players experienced some big defeats. One of those players was Alexa Wilson at number 1 who pulled herself together fantastically well in the next match against Suffolk. Alexa fought hard but lost the deciding point 15-14. The rest of the team followed Alexa’s example and there were wins for Olivia Scarles (no.2), Emma Savage (no.3) and Ellie Perkin (no. 6). This was a great boost for Bucks even though we lost 77-71 in points. The next 3 matches were against Cambs, Essex and Herts who were all looking strong. Cambs beat Bucks 104-68 with Ellie Stoppps getting the only Bucks win. On to Essex where Bucks had 2 wins but lost 102-57 and against Herts the score line was very similar with Herts winning 107-56. Emma Savage had Bucks’ only win against Herts 16-13. After these 3 tough matches the parents and coaches again tried to g-up the players for the last match in a very long day. The girls did us proud as they fought hard one more time against Norfolk but unfortunately Norfolk came out the victors 79-65. At the awards ceremony the girls were clearly gutted to come 8th but the parents, Emily and myself were proud of the way the Bucks players fought for every point and how they were always first to the net to shake hands win or lose.
The Bucks boys were raring to go with their event when the girls had finished. The boys event was to be a replay of the girls event so the team of Joel Good, Ted Holland, Thomas Gregory, Alfie King, Miles Groom and Thomas Hattam started against Northants, whom the girls beat on matches but lost to on points. Again there were some close matches but this time Bucks lost 4 matches to 2 but won on points 71-65 thanks to Thomas Hattam (no.6) winning 21-4! This gave the boys a boost as they won the match overall. On the team went to face Beds, but the mood in the Bucks camp started to change as Beds won every match and won 108pts to 57! The next match was a different story with 6 close matches that could go any way with Thomas Gregory (no.3) and Thomas Hattam getting wins for Bucks, but it wasn’t enough as Suffolk won 84pts to 70. The next 3 teams were strong in the girls event and proved to be just as strong in the boys event. Against Cambs Joel Good (no.1) started well but unfortunately lost 13-12 and the rest of the Cambs team were just too strong as they won all 6 matches and won 94pts to 45. Against Essex, Alfie King (no.4) won the last point on the buzzer to draw 9-9 and with some patient play he won the deciding point to win 10-9 to gain Bucks’ only win as Essex won 98-53. Finally against Herts the Bucks players battled hard but failed to win a match and lost 113-52. As the boys got ready to play their last match against Norfolk the whole team was on a downer due to the last 3 results and tiredness as it was already past 6pm! Joel Good started the team off with a win 18-9 and this got everyone going as Thomas Gregory and Miles Groom (no.5) got wins aswell. All 6 matches were close and as the scores were added up Bucks won 88-87 to finish the day with a win! As the final scores were added up, the boys finished the day in 7th position overall.
As I look back on the day I am very proud of all the Bucks players as they ran down every ball and their on court attitude was fantastic. I would like to mention Emma Savage and Ellie Stoppps that both won 5 out of 7 matches and Thomas Gregory who won 3 out of 7 matches.
Thank you to all the parents for their support and assisting myself and Emily in keeping the players’ spirits up. Also thank you to the players for being a great group to captain.