Fantastic result from the Bucks 10U Team who came 3rd in the National Finals of the Aegon 10U County Cup in Bolton at the weekend: Ben Smith (Halton/Gt Missenden) Matthew Blood (Batchwood/Berkhamstead), Dylan Smith (Milton Keynes) & Edward Crowston (Chesham Bois/GXBL).
Full report below and all individual match results can be seen at:
County Cup 10&Under National Finals (Bolton Arena, 16-17/6/12)
Team: Ben Smith, Matthew Blood, Dylan Smith, Edward Crowston
Following the double triumph in quick succession for the Bucks boys in both the Lionel Cox and national County Cup qualification, confidence was understandably riding high en route to Bolton for the Finals weekend of 16th and 17th June. The team were keen to see what they could do against the strongest counties (and some of the best players) in the country.
The Saturday started with the draw being made which paired Bucks with Staffordshire in the opening round. The occasion initially made the players feel nervous, but Ben soon settled down to cruise to a straight sets victory over the Staffordshire number 1 Harrison Birch. With jack-in-the-box second seed Matt also winning 4-0 4-0 against Ross Fletcher, victory for Dylan would secure victory in the tie with the doubles still to play.
A real tussle ensued as Dylan and his plucky opponent Oliver George Davies attacked and counter attacked each other with equal regularity. In an exhausting encounter, Dylan managed to pull through 5-3 1-4 (10-7). The match tie break proved especially nailbiting, with neither player giving an inch. The winning match point was greeted with huge cheers (and relief!) from the Bucks fans, as Dylan finally managed to wear down a player with impressive court coverage.
A further win in the doubles for Ben and Ed made for an impressive start to the event for Bucks.
In the semi-final on the Saturday, Bucks were up against the county seeded 2 in the competition: Warwickshire. They included their impressive number 1 player Charley Gregory, who Ben managed to beat in the final of the Grade 2 Championship just a week before.
With revenge clearly on the mind of the Warwickshire player, Ben did well to keep up with the frenetic rally pace that was set from the off. Both players struggled to hold their serve, which resulted in a first set tie break, that was ultimately to prove key to the overall result.
Ben fought valiantly, but unfortunately was unable to prevent dropping his first set of the day.
The second set saw both players really look to take the ball on, and some incredible rallies resulted. Every game went to deuce. However, crucially it was Charley who was stronger in these deuce points, that were all ‘sudden death’, meaning Warwickshire took the opening rubber 5-4 4-0.
One of the matches of the whole weekend was to follow as Matt took on Warwickshire’s number 2 Peter Colbourne. Both players brought the best out of each other in a hugely entertaining encounter, that saw Matt squeak past his adversary in a first set tie break.
With Matt always looking to take the ball on early, and Peter displaying fantastic defence, time and again the rallies were gruelling. Despite this, it was Matt who managed to gain a key break of serve at 2-2 to eventually take the second set, and thus the match 5-4 4-2.
The tie was now poised at 1-1, with Dylan’s match against Zak Sammons the next to be played. By now it was very late in the day, and it was clear that fatigue would play a part in the result, especially after Dylan’s exhausting heroics against Staffordshire earlier on.
Dylan couldn’t quite repeat the trick against the Warwickshire number 3, who in fairness played with great consistency. After a brave performance from Dylan, Zak was eventually to triumph 4-1 4-2.
The final match put Ben and Matt against Charley and Peter in an unforgettable game of doubles. The well-drilled Warwickshire pair forced Bucks into some really tight situations during the rallies. Both pairs were to produce some inspired net play that drew gasps from the crowd, as all four players’ reactions were tested to the full.
In the end though, Charley and Peter proved too strong, and eventually ran out 4-1 4-2 winners.
The disappointment of the boys at coming so close, only to lose at the semi-final stage, quickly changed into optimism at the real possibility of a creditable 3rd place finish on the Sunday.
East of Scotland would be the opponents early in the morning as the Bucks boys seemed to sleep off the previous days’ disappointment. Ben was back to his imperious best against EoS number 1 Sammy Ralston, winning comfortably 4-0 4-0. Matt too made short work of his opponent, overpowering Calum Bowmaker 4-1 4-1 in typically flamboyant style!
Ed Crowston stepped in to play EoS number 3 Lewis Bowmaker in another even contest. Both players traded impressively from the baseline, resulting in both taking a set 5-3. With nothing to choose between them, it was all down to who would hold their nerve in the match tie break.
Lewis would raise his game here, winning a match played in great spirit with the tie break ending 10-5.
Ben and Matt, supremely confident at this stage after finding their form again, went on to triumph 4-1 4-0 in the doubles against Sammy and Calum. Lessons were clearly learned from the previous days’ brutal doubles against the might of Warwickshire, with Ben and Matt showing a real understanding – especially at the net.
So a 3rd place finish was ensured, with Yorkshire going on to defeat Warwickshire in a very close final. The Bucks boys, together with captains Tom Edis and James Goodchild, were thrilled at such a fine performance against exceptionally tough opposition. The players can be proud of producing one of the best displays from a Bucks team in years, and show what can be done with some real hard work, determination, and most of all, fantastic team spirit.
It’s hoped this will both inspire the team to future achievements, as well as future Bucks teams to emulate such success.