Cambridgeshire girls team of Anna Loughlan, Thalia Martin, Lauren Watson-Steele, Lizzie Pam, Aisha Brown, Dana Viret and Sama Malik played superbly over the weekend to win Group 2 at Easton College, Norfolk and so get promoted to Group 1 for 2016.
We had struggled to get a team together and it was touch and go in the week as to whether Anna Loughlan could play but fortunately she came in to strengthen the team at number one. Zoe Douglas went to the States in January so we were short at the top end.
The teams in Group 2 were Hertfordshire, Warwickshire and Essex – all large Counties with plenty of players to call upon.
On Day 1, Friday we played Hertfordshire and the girls all played very well. First up was Dana Viret at number 6 playing in her first ever County Cup. She went 0-6, 1-4 down and then started to make a lot more balls and somehow managed to pull the match round and take the second set 6-4 and then spurred on by the team came through 6-4 in the third to give Cambridgeshire a winning start. Aisha Brown at number 5 then had an equally long match against Elizabeth Hodge. She lost a tight first set 6/7 and 8-6 in the tiebreak but then hung in well and took the next two sets 6-4, 6-4 to give Cambridgeshire a two matches lead.
Lizzie Pam at number four had a good match against Amelia Campbell and played very well to win 7/5, 6/4 and then Lauren Watson-Steele at number three stayed up to the baseline, took the ball very early and outplayed Michaela Brown to win 6-2, 6-0. Thalia Martin at number two lost 2-6, 3-6 to Danielle Latter. Cambridgeshire were then 4-1 up with Anna Loughlan playing against Georgie Walker in the top singles. This match went on for ages and was a really tight affair with Anna coming out on top 7-6 (9), 6-4 playing some exciting and also very clever tennis to disrupt her opponent’s rhythm.
Cambridgeshire were then 5-1 up in matches.
They could not capitalise on this in the doubles with Thalia and Dana losing 4-6, 6-7 to Campbell and Carr. Aisha and Lauren also lost to Hodge and Latter 6-2, 1-6, 6-10. Anna was exhausted so12 year old Sama Malik came in for the top doubles with Lizzie Pam and played well but they lost 4-6, 3-6 to Brown and Walker.
This left Cambridgeshire with a good 5-4 win over Hertfordshire on the first day.
On day 2 Cambridgeshire took on Warwickshire who were strengthened with the inclusion of their number one player Emily Smith.
Dana Viret at number six again got the team off to a good start beating Fatmata Tarawalley 6-4, 6-2. Aisha Brown found the hard hitting of Tamara Malazonia too much and lost a good game 4-6, 1-6.
Next up were Lizzie and Lauren a strong combination at 4 and 3 respectively. Lizzie played very aggressively and easily beat Maria Pandya 6-2, 6-1. Lauren again played a very good match and beat Elizabeth Massie 6-4, 6-3.
Thalia had a tough match at two and lost 2-6, 1-6 to Kate Malazonia. The top singles was another great match and despite some really good play from Anna, her opponent Emily Smith was a little too strong and won 6-3, 6-4.
This left the match all square at 3 rubbers each with all to play for in the doubles.
Aisha and Lauren lost to Massie and Pandya 6-7, 2-6 in the second doubles.
Thalia and Dana were well down in their doubles losing the first set 2-6 but then came back and took the second 6-3 to take the match into a tie break. They went 1-5 down and it was looking bleak but somehow managed to turn this round and won 9 points in a row to win the tie break 10-5.
The overall score was now 4 matches each.
The top doubles was a great match and both teams played very well but the Warwickshire pairing of Smith and Kate Malazonia just won 7-6, 7-5. Anna and Lizzie saved several match points but could not quite clinch the second set leaving the overall score as 5-4 to Warwickshire.
On day 3 Cambridgeshire had to win to stay up in Group 2 and if matches went our way in the Hertfordshire v Warwickshire match we still had a chance of going up.
Well the team did the County proud.
Dana was first up and played a very good girl in Andre Lukosiute and lost 0-6, 1-6 but at the same time Aisha was beating Katie Mcgarrigle by a similar score 6-1, 6-1 to keep the match level at 1 rubber each.
Next up were the two stars in the singles Lizzie and Lauren who once again played very well and won their matches. Lizzie beat Caitlyn Hardy 6-4, 6-1 – a tight first set but then she relaxed and wont he second easily. Lauren who had played good singles all weekend beat Phoebe Collins 6-1, 6-2.
In the number two match Thalia suddenly got inspired and pulled out a really good win against Erica Izatt 7-5, 7-5.
Anna at number one then played Olivia Sofroniou and had a really close match but managed to win the key points when it got tight and came through 6-4, 7-5 to give Cambridgeshire a 5-1 lead.
At this point Warwickshire and Hertfordshire were tied at 3 matches each so we had everything to play for and still had a chance of being promoted! The girls came out firing in the doubles and although Aisha and Lauren lost to Collins and Lukosiute Thalia and Dana again pulled out a great win against Hardy and Brooke Newnes 6-4, 6-2 to give Cambridgeshire a 6-2 lead. At this point the other match was 5-3 to Warwickshire. We needed Hertfordshire to win the top doubles to be sure of being promoted but also if Anna and Lizzie won we would be up anyway!! It was nail biting to the end! Anna and Lizzie took the first set 7-5. Hertfordshire lost the first set! Hertfordshire then turned their match around to level at set all – we were down in the second set! Hertfordshire won the match ties break – we were up – Anna and Lizzie turned the match round and won the second set tiebreak to give Cambridgeshire a winning 7-2 result!
So overall Cambridgeshire came first, Warwickshire second and Hertfordshire third and Essex fourth – what a weekend.
Sue Rich, captain said ‘the team were magnificent and everyone played their part in helping the County to get promoted from Dana’s come back in the first match, Anna’s excellent play at number one, the safe hands of Lizzie and Lauren at numbers three and four winning all their singles, to Thalia pulling out a key singles win in the last match and to Sama as reserve and chief cheer leader!’ Well done team – Group 1 here we come.