The Hampshire & IOW 10U Boys County Cup team were in Group F at Bromley Tennis Centre, Kent
The team was: George Russell, Dean Cooper-Kirby, Oscar Boyle, Aaron Dawson. The Team Captain was Andy Sheridan.
The Hampshire & IOW team faced a tough challenge when we were drawn against Surrey and Sussex in group B. Surrey played Sussex in the first round which gave us ample time to scout the opponents we would face in the second. After Surrey won all three singles and the doubles, we squared off against Sussex.
Aaron Dawson started brilliantly in his singles before fading in the heat and losing 5-4(4), 4-0 against Callum Harvey. Dean Cooper Kirby played the match of the day coming from a set down against Lemuel Cassidy. He won 1-4, 5-4(7), 10-7. This was a great performance and Dean was mentally tough to come through the second set tiebreak saving a matchpoint. At this point the atmosphere was buzzing and the team support was fantastic as I’d requested from the players. With the match at 1-1, George Russell came up against an inspired Lui Maxted and while George competed well, he never really got into the match and went down 4-1, 4-0. In the doubles, we paired George and Dean who fought really well and almost pulled off a huge comeback in the second before finally getting beaten 4-2, 5-4(4). It was a positive start against strong opponents.
Next up were Surrey, who were always going to be strong. This time Oscar Boyle played number three singles for us. He started brightly but Finn Doyle was too strong and put Surrey 1-0 up with a 4-0, 4-0 win.
Dean was unable to find the form he’d shown against Sussex but still made Mukhtar Andu work harder than the 4-1, 4-0 suggests.
George Russell played at least a level higher than in his first match and led Rafaello Papajcik 3-1 in the second before ‘Rafa’ upped his game to win 4-1, 5-3.
With the match already decided, Aaron and Oscar played the dead double rubber but were beaten 4-0, 4-0 by the Surrey 1 and 2.
The final groups standings were Surrey as winners, Sussex second and Hampshire third.
Meanwhile in Group A, Dorset emerged as winners after beating Kent and Buckinghamshire (both 3-1), Kent beat Bucks in a playoff so they finished second.
There was serious pride at stake on day two as none of us wanted to finish sixth so the players were really fired up for the Bucks match. Deciding on the third singles player was tough but I felt Aaron had competed better on day one so he started at three against Jack Shawyer. In one of the longest and tightest first sets I’ve seen at this level, Aaron once again started well and led several times before his opponent cut back on the errors and won it 5-3. T he match wasn’t without controversy but it didn’t impact on what was a great battle. Unfortunately Aaron faded in the second set and lost 5-3, 4-1.
With Bucks already 1-0 up, the match looked to be slipping away from our grasp as Dean lost a set and 3-2 lead go to find himself 0-6 down in the match tiebreak. Somehow at the next change of ends, it was 6-6 and he went on to win 10-7 to level the match. In my opinion this was the match of the weekend and once again his attitude and determination got him through against a good opponent.
Next up was George who took on Miles Groom. The first set looked promising for us but he ultimately had no answers against a better player. Bucks won this one 4-2, 4-0 to take a 2-1 lead into the doubles.
George and Dean were totally focused in the doubles and played even better than the day before. They came back from 0-2 in both sets to triumph 5-3, 5-3 and take us into a shootout. The boys had the momentum and teamed up once again for the ten point tiebreak. This was an even better performance from our players and they dominated from start to finish winning 10-4 to seal the 3-2 win and fifth place overall.
We managed to arrange a dead doubles rubber in which Aaron and Oscar played together and won 5-4(5), 3-5, 10-7. This was another fantastic win with the Hampshire & IOW boys on fire to come back and win the tiebreak. After day two I was really proud of the Hampshire & IOW team, they’re a great bunch of players.
In the other matches, Sussex beat Dorset 4-0 and Surrey beat Kent 3-1. This meant the final was played between our rivals from the day one. Surrey triumphed 3-1 in this match to win the event. In the third place play-off, Kent whitewashed Dorset 4-0.
Andy Sheridan, Team Captain