The Future Looks Bright for Cambridge 14U Girls

Friday, June 01, 2012

Cambridgeshire Girls Under 14 completed their journey at this year’s County Cup at the National Finals in Nottingham recently. The girls team of Lizzie Pam, Anna Loughlan, Lauren Watson-Steele and Ellie Coleman had already won their qualifying group to book their place as one of 8 teams competing over the weekend. They were joined this time by Kira Reuter, who returned after injury.

The first day saw the girls drawn against Avon, the third seeds in the competition. Coleman and Watson Steele found the going tough and lost their singles matches, against tough opposition, leaving Avon two rubbers from victory. However, Loughlan, one of three eleven year olds in the squad, produced a great performance against a much older, physically stronger opponent, winning through 7-5, 7-6. That left the Cambridgeshire number 1 Pam, to play the Avon number 1, with Pam having too much power for her opponent, Cambridgeshire went on to win the match 6-4, 6-4.

The score was locked at 2 all going into the doubles. First up were Watson-Steele and Reuter, a new pairing, they struggled to find their rhythm and went down in straight sets. That meant that Pam and Loughlan needed to win in order to force the game into a shootout and after losing the first set 6-4, the girls rallied to take the second by the same scoreline. The game was evenly poised going into the third set tiebreak, which was was full of drama, with Avon, then Cambridgeshire edging ahead before Avon eventually prevailed, with the help of a fortunate net cord 10-7. Avon won the tie 4-2.

The second day saw the team take on South Wales. The day started very similar, with Coleman, another eleven year old, playing against a girl two years older than her and despite a close first set (6-2), the Welsh girl proved to be too strong. Watson-Steele was next on and played a fantastic first set, full of aggression (prevailing 6-3), before running out of steam in the second and going down in the third also. With Cambridgeshire up against it at 2 rubbers down, Loughlan and Pam again stepped up to win their matches for the loss of just six games between them.

With the score locked at 2 all again, Watson-Steele and Reuter teamed up again and performed exceptionally well against a solid Welsh pairing. The cambridgeshire duo won the first set 7-5, before narrowly losing the second set 6-4. While this was going on, Pam and Loughlan won their rubber for the loss of just one game, dominating the net against their opponents. Watson-Steele and Reuter were now into a third set tiebreak and up against vocal Welsh support. Despite their best efforts, the girls narrowly lost the tiebreak 10-7 and with it, the match.

That took the game into a deciding shootout, with Pam and Loughlan taking on the Welsh second pair. This provided yet more drama, with the girls trading matchpoints, until the South Wales team finally prevailed 14-12. Cambridgeshire had lost the tie 4-3 despite winning more sets and games than their opponents but tennis can be cruel sometimes.

On the final day, the girls took on a strong Staffordshire side. This was Coleman’s best performance, running her opponent from corner to corner but the older girl was able to get to more balls and eventually prevailed 6-3, 6-3. Watson-Steele lost to a tough opponent 6-1, 6-1, with Loughlan narrowly losing a tough three set match to another older opponent. The singles match of the day was Pam, against a high nationally ranked opponent. Pam showed superb aggression, particularly on the forehand, to come back from 5-2 down to level at 5 all. The experience of her opponent told in the end though, as she went on to take the set 7-5 and then the second set 6-2.

With Staffordshire already winning the tie. The doubles were a chance to play in a more relaxed environment. Watson-Steele and Reuter again performing admirably, going down in the third set tiebreak before Loughlan and Pam played two tough sets against the Staffordshire number ones and despite some scintillating rallies (the organiser commenting that the doubles he saw was the best in the competition) the pair lost 6-4, 7-6.

‘The girls have performed unbelievably over the course of this competition and i’m very proud of everyone who took part. The fact we have three players who can play here for three more years shows the future looks very bright for Cambridgeshire tennis and the experiences they will have gained from taking part will prove invaluable in contiuning their development’ said captain Chris Hirst.





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