Aegon 10u County Cup 2016 – Girls Group C, 28-29/05/16
Bucks Team: Millie Day (Chesham Bois), Ashni Sangha (Gerrards Cross Bull Lane), Aneka Patel (GXBL), Amber Razzaq (GXBL)
Captain: Tom Edis
Assistant Captain: Hannah Russell
What a weekend! After a very creditable 3rd place finish earlier in the month at the Lionel Cox, Bucks 10u girls felt quietly confident from the start of the County Cup qualifying event they could at least replicate that result, and perhaps even push to qualify for the national finals in June by winning the group. By the end of the weekend their collective performance was to reap huge rewards.
This year’s qualifying group pitted Bucks against familiar opposition in the shape of Middlesex, Berkshire, Northants and Oxfordshire, with Middlesex being the obvious danger if history was anything to go by.
Undeterred, the girls rose to the challenge of facing the group favourites in the opening round on Saturday. Millie got the team off to the perfect start by sweeping aside Middx #1 Anjali Kotecha 4-1 4-0. This was followed up with a gritty performance from Ashni against #2 Kayal Parameswaran, coming through 5-3 5-4. At 2-0 up, Aneka’s marathon match with #3 Amelie Brooks took on perhaps less importance than it might have done. However, the tension was still high in what proved to be an absolute thriller – perhaps the match of the opening day – with the Middx girl narrowly coming through 4-2 2-4 10-6.
The doubles was equally tense, with Bucks knowing a win would see them defeat the mighty Middlesex outright, and at the same time get their toughest opponent out of the way early. Millie and Aneka’s blossoming partnership produced a polished display against Amelie and Kayal; their 4-2 4-2 win set the girls up perfectly for the rest of the weekend.
Next up were Berkshire, who had a very able team themselves. Millie continued her impressive form though, making short work of #1 Shreya Walia 4-2 4-0, and Aneka followed that up with an equally pleasing 5-3 4-1 win against #2 Zahra Ahmed – a real confidence booster following her energy-sapping defeat earlier in the day. Amber came in at #3 and overcame a tentative start in her rubber versus the tricky Steffi Swanson, but unfortunately just missed out in taking it to a deciding match tie-break, falling short 4-0 5-4.
Even so, Amber and Ashni could still put the tie to bed with victory in the doubles against Shreya and Olivia Parr. In what turned out to be the climax of day 1, an exhausting match agonisingly went the way of the Berkshire pair 0-4 4-1 10-7, meaning a match tie-break doubles shoot out. Millie and Ashni stepped up to the plate to eventually overcome the determined Berkshire girls 11-9, and crucially giving Bucks a 3-2 overall victory. With 2 fixture wins out of 2 ahead of Sunday, victory was very definitely within sight for Bucks.
In stark contrast to the intense heat of Saturday, Sunday was cooler, windier and altogether tougher conditions for tennis. Northants were up first – Millie by this stage was imperious and playing with such authority it was difficult to see any way she was going to be beaten. In the blink of an eye she dispatched #1 Charlotte Johns 4-0 4-1. Ashni, despite suffering a little with her asthma, came through fairly comfortably against #2 Amie Reynolds, which again left Aneka to complete the singles rubbers against #3 Alexandra Manojlovic. Once more, the Bucks girl put the parents and coaches through the mill with such a tight match that ebbed and flowed, with both girls not giving an inch. This time though, Aneka was to be on the right end of such a contest – her 5-3 2-4 10-6 win meaning that Bucks were within touching distance of topping the group.
It also meant that Aneka and Amber’s doubles rubber defeat – 4-1 4-2 versus Amie and Megan Ransford – was academic.
The final fixture of the weekend against Oxfordshire was to be the most emphatic win of all. The Oxfordshire girls had already lost to the other counties, but for Bucks to come through with a clean sweep of 4 wins that cost them just 2 games was mightily impressive. Special mention here goes to Amber for winning her first singles of the weekend, 4-0 4-1 versus Caoimhe McConnon, and also for Millie, who didn’t come close to dropping a set all weekend!
So – gold medals for the Bucks team as they look forward to the national finals in Sunderland on 10-12 June. This was an outstanding achievement, made possible by real hard work in training, and a fantastic team spirit that was evident throughout the event. A special thanks must also go to Hannah Russell who assisted captaining the team, her first county event as a coach. Her County Cup experience playing as both a junior, and now in the senior team was a terrific asset over the weekend, and one that will be of great value to Bucks at the finals themselves.
Well done Bucks!