Batchwood Tennis Centre's 14 and Under girls team came away from the National Tennis Centre in Roehampton on Sunday evening as the AEGON Team Tennis Premier 14 and Under National Champions after a weekend of hard fought tennis between the top club teams from around the country.
The St Albans club's team of Emily Arbuthnott, Anna Popescu, Georgie Walker and Lucy Booth had qualified for the national finals as winners of the South East regional competition against opposition including Gosling, Cumberland, Sutton, Brighton and Bromley in matches played over the previous three months.
Saturday saw a convincing win against Heaton Tennis Club from Bradford with Emily and Georgie winning their singles matches and then both doubles pairs winning tough matches. This took the team through to the final on Sunday against a strong West Hants Club team from Bournemouth. The singles finished 2-2, with fine wins for Emily and Anna lifting the team's spirits after narrow losses for Lucy and Georgie. The team were battling against time as well as their opponents, with Anna due to catch a flight for her summer holidays that evening and the chance that, although she had already postponed her flight time once the team reached the final, she might not be able to complete her doubles match before having to leave for the airport. With West Hants rejecting Batchwood's request to reverse the order of the doubles matches so Anna could play first, the team had no choice but to forfeit Georgie and Lucy's doubles match midway through the first set so as to get Emily and Anna on court as early as possible. Once on court however they raced through their match 6-0, 6-0, leaving the final tied at three matches each.
This left the match to be decided by the dreaded doubles shoot-out: pairs comprising one player from each of the teams' first and second pairs playing a championship tie break (first to ten points (at least two points ahead)). Things did not start well for the Batchwood pair of Emily and Georgie and they found themselves 1-6 down against two West Hants players cheered on by some vocal support. The Batchwood pair held their nerve however and gradually fought back, saving a match point at 9-10 and finally taking their second match point with a volley at the net after a long and tense rally to win 12-10 and narrowly take the match and the trophy.