Cambridgeshire’s 18 and under girls team of Sophie Watts, Anneka Watts, Alice McGee, Vicky Nicholas, Eilish Mackie, Stella Gordon, Alice Taylor and Natalie Bacon all played their part in a very exciting weekend at Billesley Tennis Centre, Birmingham and narrowly missed out on promotion to Group 2 and will stay in Group 3 for another year.
Cambridgeshire were up against the Counties of Staffordshire, Derbyshire and Durham and Cleveland. On the Friday the girls faced Staffordshire. Each match consists of 6 singles matches and then 3 doubles matches. First on court are the number 5 and 6 players with Alice Taylor at number 6 getting the team off to a good start beating Megan Davies 7/5, 6/3 shortly followed by Eilsih Mackie beating Elif Gabb 6/3, 6/2. Although Vicky Nicholas suffered a reverse against Francesca Wilkes 4/6, 3/6, Alice Mcgee at number 3 notched up another win beating Hayley Marshall 5/7, 6/3, 6/2. The Counties top two players Sophie and Anneka Watts played very well to win two really tight three set matches. Anneka at number 2 beat Amy Ellis 7/5, 6/7, 7/5 and then our top player, Sophie Watts battled very well to beat Elle Stokes 6/4, 6/7, 7/5. This gave the County an unassailable 5/1 lead. All three doubles pairs then won in straight sets to end the day on an excellent 8 – 1 overall win.On the Saturday Cambridgeshire then played Derbyshire. The team was slightly strengthened with the availability of Stella Gordon at number 6.
Stella beat Rebecca Williams 6/2, 6/2, Eilish Mackie played her best match at number 5 and won 6/2, 6/1 against Sarah Ashcroft. Vicky Nicholas then won at number 3 against Emily Hewland 6/2, 6/3. Alice McGee then beat Katy Wilson 7/6, 6/4, Anneka Watts played really well to beat Louise Holtum 6/0, 6/0. Sister Sophie at number 1 beat Danielle Pym 6/1, 6/3. Natalie Bacon come in for her first match in the third pair doubles with Alice Taylor and they beat Ashcroft and Hewland 6/3, 3/6, 10-3. Second pair Eilish Mackie and Vicky Nicholas beat Williams and Wilson 6/2, 7/6 and then the top pair Sophie and Anneka Watts beat Pym and Holtum 6/4, 6/2 to complete a 9 – 0 match score.
All was set up for the final day on Sunday against the equally unbeaten Durham and Cleveland. Unfortunately Cambs had an injury with our number 3 player Alice McGee although she valiantly tried to play her singles until forced to retire with a shoulder injury.
First up was Stella Gordon who got the team off to a flying start with a really good performance against Nicola Tweedy wining 6/2, 6/2. Eilish Mackie then had a really tight match against Yasmin Tanfield but was not quite able to clinch this losing 6/4, 2/6, 4/6. Vicky Nicholas then played very well to beat Iona Amos 6/1, 6/1. Alice McGee played with an injury but was unable to complete her match against Charlotte Derbyshire retiring 4/6, 1/3. This left the overall score at 2 matches each. In reality Cambs needed to win these two matches to stand a chance in the doubles as Durham and Cleveland were very strong at doubles. Anneka started off very well winning the first set 6/2 against Farah Abdel-Aziz but could not quite sustain this and lost the next two 1/6, 3/6. Sophie Watts then played an excellent match
against the higher rated Caitlin Hindmarsh winning 7/6, 7/6 and saved set points in the second set. This left the tie resting on the doubles and despite a great effort from Alice Taylor and Stella Gordon at number three pair they narrowly lost 6/2, 4/6, 5-10. Without Alice Mcgee Cambs were then a little understrength in the doubles. Vicky Nicholas paired up with Natalie Bacon in the second match but lost 1/6, 4/6 to Farah and Bethany Smiles so meaning Durham and Cleveland just beat Cambs into first place.
Captain Sue Rich said ‘It was a great team effort from all the girls and they all played their part in some excellent matches. Sophie did extremely well winning all her matches at number one. With a little bit of luck the team could have finished top. Well done everyone’.