Aegon Summer County Cup 2014 – Men

Wednesday, July 30, 2014
Aegon Summer County Cup 2014 – Men

Hampshire & IOW Men’s team had made it to Division 1, which is always held at Eastbourne.

Representing Hampshire & IOW were: Josh Goodall, Daniel Cochrane, Alex Gasson, James Chaudry, Rob Mitchell, Josh Girling, Karim Aouichaoui, Paul Scullard, Miles McDowall and Pete Francis.


This was the big time, the general quality in Division 1 is as good as Wimbledon qualifying, and the better players play in Wimbledon main draw.  We have a young team that has deserved to get up to Division 1, our aim would be to stay this year and learn from the experience of playing against this standard.

Day 1 vs. Hertfordshire

The team was: 1.   Goodall + Cochane 2.   Gasson  + Girling 3.   Chaudy  + Mitchell Sub. Aouichaoui

Hertfordshire are the renowned County Champions of the last 5 years and, although missing 3 top British players, were still the bookies favourites for the title.

We got off to a bad start with only Goodall + Cochrane winning, so down 2 - 1 at lunch, and the match ups after lunch weren't good for us!  As always with County Week, what you expect doesn't happen.  Fantastic wins against the odds from Chaudry + Mitchell and Gasson + Girling in the 2nd round got us back up to 3 - 3 at tea.  This was a chance.  The match ups after tea were again not good for us but the team had got back in the match, so have a go!  And that’s what they did with Goodall + Cochrane and an amazing win from Chaudry + Mitchell over Neil Bamford and partner, we won 5 - 4.  There was a stunned silence over Eastbourne, the past champions had been beaten.  What was going to happen this year? !

Day 2 vs. Kent

The team was unchanged: 1.    Goodall + Cochrane 2.    Gasson  + Girling 3.    Chaudry + Mitchell Sub.  McDowall

Kent were the new favourites now.  Could the team produce another stella performance as against Herts?  We came down to earth very quickly, at lunch we were 3 - 0 down.  Teams were now ready for us and although Chaudry + Mitchell had another great win this time against Burton + Searle, we still lost 6 - 3.  We were able to substitute young Miles McDowall in for Josh Girling in the last round of matches to give him a taste of the standard.

Day 3 vs. South Wales

The team was: 1.   Goodall + Cochrane 2.   Gasson  + Aouichaoui 3.   Chaudry + Mitchell Sub. Scullard

This was the big one for us, South Wales were the weakest team.  We needed to win to be fairly sure of staying, the problem was South Wales needed to win to have any chance of staying.  There are no easy matches in Division 1 and every team wants to stay and South Wales played like it!  We had a young team and they weren't quite ready for the intensity that South Wales showed and went down 5 – 4.  That was a learning experience.

Day 4 vs. Surrey

The team was: 1.   Goodall + Cochrane 2.   Gasson  + Aouichaoui 3.   Chaudry + Mitchell Sub. Scullard

We were lucky that matches went in our favour the night before and there were 4 teams on only one win so now a team with 2 wins would definitely be staying.  So a win on Friday would mean we would stay.  The problem was Surrey were last year’s Champions.  They were beatable but very experienced in this level.  We were 2 - 1 down before lunch.  Gasson got an injury in the first match so after lunch we substituted Scullard in,  Paul rolled back the years with Karim and along with Goodall + Cochrane won to make it 3 - 3 at tea.  The optimism was short lived though as Surrey commanded the last round and won 5 – 4.  Counties at this level are very aware of capabilities of players, and how to contain them. Surrey certainly did that to us.

Day 5 vs. Lancs

The team was: 1.   Goodall + Cochrane 2.   Gasson  + Mitchell 3.   Chaudry + Scullard Sub. Aouichaoui

Things again went in our favour the previous night with other results as it was a straight knockout between us and Lancs ; winner stays, loser goes down.

It was now in our hands.  The morning wasn't good though, we were 2 - 1 down at lunch, Lancs controlled the round.  We were in Division 1 hanging on by our fingertips!  After lunch we tried all we could to get the wins but Lancs controlled the round again, we were 4 - 2 down at tea.

Lancs stayed too strong for us after tea and won the one rubber to win the tie and stay up.

Our team is a very young one and inexperienced at this level.  Josh and Dan were excellent as our first pair with 12 out of 15, they certainly have the capabilities to win 15, as they did in Div 3, but there are no easy matches in Division 1, there is no respite.  We are a talented team in any other Division but an inexperienced team in this Division.  Chaudry and Mitchell started the week as a brilliant 3rd pair for us, but teams started to read them as the week went on and figured out how to play them.  There were some amazing wins from Karim, Alex, Paul and Josh Girling but at this standard it is the level of consistency that matters.

We will be in Division 2 next year and maybe the team can use this experience to command and control matches just as the Division 1 teams did to us.

Julian Godfrey, Team Captain



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