At Grantham Tennis Club Group 2b
Team: 1. Michael Shaw (Milton Keynes) 2. Jack Molloy (Reid School, Gerrards Cross) 3. Barnaby Smith (Reid School, Gt Missenden) 4. Oscar Glenister (Halton) 5. Jake Williams (Halton) 6. Thomas Schmidt (Halton) 7. Ben Smith (Eton) 8. Sergio Lee-Guttierez (Gosling) Reserve: Mark Koniecny Manager / Coach Andy Scholfield (GXLTC) Assistant Darren Emery (Halton)
Andy’s Quote: ‘We had yet another thrilling event with all players putting in maximum effort and support for each other. The boys acted very professionally on and off court. Our opposition were very strong; counties steeped in impressive tennis playing history’
SUMMARY REPORT: This event NEVER ceases to entertain and give climatic finishes. This again was proved Bucks under 18 boys team came 2nd in division 2b of the National Aegon County Cup 2016 played at Grantham Tennis Centre, which is a tremendous achievement. Debutant Oscar Glenister won his two matches on the first day against Sussex. Playing as number 4 he won his singles then teamed up with captain Tom Schmidt to win their doubles 7-5 7-5. Barney Smith with his dominant attacking game style terminated his opponent 7-5 6-2 and after a slow start Jack Molloy dominated with his quality groundstrokes 6-4 6-1. At number one Michael Shaw was disappointed by his performance leaving the tie at 3-3 with three doubles to play. Bucks smashed all three to claim a 6-3 win. The second day Bucks played the home county Lincolnshire. The experienced referee Peter Greatorex had never seen a match change so much. Bucks went 0-3 down but Barney and Jack (performance of the day) pulled the deficit back whilst number 1 Michael Shaw reversed his form from the previous day to win 3 hour match 7-5 5-7 7-5. Tom Schmidt and Oscar Glenister played amazing doubles to just win 6-7 7-6 12-10. Despite world class rallies Barney and Jake Williams lost 10-5 match tie-break to leave this crucial tie at 4-4. With great support from both sides the 1st pair of Jack and Michael finally won in front of the joyous team 6-7 7-1 12-10. In the final Surrey proved too strong for Buicks winning all singles matches. However there was a great debut from 14 years old Ben Smith (Eton and Gt Missenden) who ran his opponent very close in the second set.
MAIN REPORT for tennis geeks: Opposing teams were Sussex, Lincolnshire, Surrey.
Format: each match consists of six singles matches followed by three doubles. Like the Davis Cup, the captain was allowed on court to assist the players at the change of ends.
The venue provided excellent facilities which were used to the maximum by all the managers / coaches and team mates. Each tie ran from 9am to 5pm each day with teams warming up and preparing for their matches from 8am.
The six pre event training sessions proved very beneficial. All players showed good intensity and effort providing good preparation.
Barney Smith now trains at Casal/Brughera Academy in Spain so unfortunately was unable to attend. Jack Molloy was competing in Europe or British Tour events; like-wise Michael Shaw, which gave us minimal sightings of our top stars. Chilli Poulter and Dan Buckeldee joined us for a couple of sessions in preparation for the new Corby Inter Counties event.
Grantham Tennis Club has had £3 million re-development and proved an excellent venue; four new acrylic indoor courts and excellent back-up facilities. This is the home of Lincolnshire Tennis and so we knew we had to be vociferous when we played them. We hoped Jack was able to out-banter the Surrey team as he hitched a ride with them from Reid School. Our practice at the Club proved invaluable with all players enjoying the surroundings. Assistant coach Darren and Barney joined us in our quality Premier Inn restaurant for great food and simple team talk.
Day 1 opponents Sussex.
As always we had our main team-talk in the salubrious surroundings of our new luxurious (compared to previous years) ‘Sixth’ Mini Bus. Our team selection for the top six singles was straight-forward this year with all of our top 6 players rated 2.2 or higher. However, new rules for 2016 – teams must be selected on ranking rather than rating meaning Barney Smith at number 3 rather than number 1 where he played for our senior team last November!
Sussex’s numbers 5 and 6 looked very consistent with no obvious weaknesses. Our captain Tom Schmidt at number 6 lost a close set 6-3 but kept fighting on all rallies trying to use his speed to outmanoeuvre his opponent and approached the net to good effect when the opportunity arose. He won the second set 6-1 but lost concentration to go 0-3 down in the third set. He tenaciously fought back with his approach play becoming even more important. At 5-5 15-40 he had a huge opportunity but his opponent played very tough and produced great groundstrokes in the match tie-break to give Sussex 2-0 lead following Jake’s disappointing display at number 5. Oscar Glenister made a magnificent debut for the u18 team. His ability to hit great depth on his groundstrokes and patience in constructing the rallies proved critical and he won an absorbing match3-6 6-4 6-3. Barney Smith trounced Jack Burkill with huge serving backed up by big forehands 6-2 6-1. Jack Molloy also put on a very professional display to beat Kai Maxted 6-4 6-1. However our number 1 Michael Shaw uncharacteristically made lots of errors in his match against Jack Beuttell-Triggs and lost 3-6 2-6. The score was finely balanced at 3-3 with doubles to come. Another change of rules meant doubles pairings are chosen directly before number 1 goes on court. This gave the team captains tactical opportunities and so it proved as we changed the make-up of our pairings; Jack partnering Michael at first pair with Barney now able to form hard hitting second pair with Jake and Tom and Oscar to stay as third pair. Great doubles displays gave us three wins; all in two sets. What a relief! A first day win by 6-3 against a solid County. Our reserves Sergio and Ben did a fantastic job by collecting match stats and giving very loud support.
The match surprisingly finished late about 6pm giving us little recovery time.
Day 2 opponents Lincolnshire losers from first day to Surrey 2-7.
So after a mainly great performance on our first day we kept the same team but were off to a tough start with our opponents’ numbers 5 and 6 proving very challenging. Tom was out-gunned at number 6 but staged a good fight-back in the second set losing 1-6 6-7. Jake again looked too nervous and unable to form a solid base from which to use his dominant groundstrokes. He was well beaten. The hero of the first day Oscar Glenister was unable to effectively attack his opponent with too many shots dropping short. He was very disappointed to lose 1-6 1-6 to leave us looking down the barrel of a gun at 0-3. However, anything is possible; no one can predict the future. Our big guns strode confidently onto court. Despite the huge support for the home team Lincs, we were able to match their raucous applause but not necessarily their sarcastic comments. Barney hit huge serves and pounced on every ball to terminate his opponent with relentless power; Andrew Isaac who had won against Surrey the day before succumbed after a courageous fight 7-5 6-3. Meanwhile Jack Molloy was on task to achieve the ‘performance of the day’ to destroy the loud and over confident Joe Wooley (who trains full time in USA). Jack s powerful groundstrokes and great returns of serve powered him to a 6-3 6-2 win! Michael Shaw loped to the chair and said there is nothing I can do to hurt my opponent Henry Beesley?! ‘Yes he loathes your tenacity and depth of shot onto his backhand. His consistency will break down particularly on the backhand side against your excellent slice backhand’. Three hours later Michael had scaled the heights to turn the belief into reality by winning 7-5 5-7 7-5 despite serving for the match at 5-4 in third set’ at 30-0 his opponent Joe Woolley produced six winning shots but collapsed under the sustained pressure from Michael. In the mean-time Oscar and Tom were in a tremendous battle at 3rd pair doubles against the very strong Darke and Isaac. Tom played excellent controlled doubles and was backed up by Oscar’s great hands and heavy topspun groundstrokes. Their opponents played some classic shots and they all fought toe to toe, with all supporters hugely involved; not least our reserves Ben and Sergio who had started to lose their voices. The final score was 6-7 7-6 12-10 which turned the match on its head – Bucks 4-3 up. Barney Smith and Jake Williams started off from where they’d left off the previous day but were outplayed by brilliant net play from Woolley and Colclough to go 6-7 down (despite coming back from 0-3). There were many unbelievable rallies in this ‘doubles of the week-end’ with Jake fully justifying his position beside Barney. So a totally uplifting match was finally won by Lincolnshire 6-7 7-5 5-10. So 4-4; what a climax long into the day with the centre still full of eager supporters many of whom made their way down onto court from the balcony to get even closer to the passion and atmosphere coming from the court of the number 1 doubles pairings. Beesley and Hodkin won the first set 7-5 but uplifted by the glorious comeback from the Bucks team Jack and Michael totally dominated the second set showing total focus and closing the net at every opportunity to win 6-1. So the match was to be decided on a match tie- break. Bucks swung into a 5-3 lead but Lincs came back to go 7-6 in front. At 9-8 Bucks had two match points but were denied by great play from the Lincs pair much to the delight of the home crowd. Bucks third match point at 11-10 proved a step too far for Lincs who hit a ground-stroke long to send the Bucks team into unheralded delight.
What a win; the captains could nt believe how close the match had been and the very experienced Referee Pete Greatorex had never seen a match swing so much in each direction!
So we celebrated by going to Pizza express which was surprisingly quiet for a Saturday night!
We were shattered but ecstatic with our victory.
Day 3 Promotion to make County Cup history for Bucks?
This was not to be. A fresh-looking Surrey proved too strong and beat us 6-0. However before we started the match we could tell they were tense – their Captain asked if we would not celebrate good shots by banging the balcony walls and were concerned when we made a change to our singles order. 14 year old Ben Smith (Eton) played at number 5 and showed great promise and desire by taking his opponent Edward Hubner to a very close 4-6 second set. Our two singles hopes Barney Smith and Jack Molloy were a bit jaded from the excellent performance the previous day but their opponents were at the peak of their form.
We set goals for the future and said goodbye to our Captain Tom Schmidt after 4 years of tenacious battling and awesome enthusiasm.
The call is ‘Let’s finish the job and gain promotion next year!’
An unbelievable experience of coming back from 0-3 -beating Lincolnshire to stay in division 2 for another year; the first time in years, left the team exhilarated and exhausted. We celebrated with a McDonalds at the Motorway services and looked forward to next year’s big push for promotion.
See Twitter @andytennace for the last days stunning victory in pictures
Andy Scholfield 8th March 2016
Bucks U18 County Cup Captain Boys
Thanks goes to the whole team squad and reserves, Darren Emery who made a great start in his role as vice-Captain, and Venetia Cosier for excellent admin and support, Bucks Indoor for training sessions and players parents in particular the Schmidts, Smiths, Shaws, Williams’s, and Molloys who came to watch this awesome event.