The Northants 9U County Team had an exceptional tournament at Corby on Saturday. Playing in the annual Mini Orange Festival of Tennis, the team of Henry Grayson, Elita Silins, Daniel Bryan & Ethan La Porta, beat County teams from all around the Country, fielding many of the top juniors in the Country.
The event is run by Corby Centre Manager, Craig Haworth, and sees 32 children play 80 matches in one day. With the help of a number of the Centres players, assistant coaches and apprentice, each match is scored, and there were no issues to resolve throughout the day. Also overseeing were Stephen Comber TDO, and Justin Chacksfield the Tennis Performance Officer from the LTA. The day was a huge success again, and is fast becoming an integral part of the winter calendar for this age group.
In the opening round, the tone was set for the day when Northants No1 Henry Grayson pulled off a great comeback to beat the Leics No1 6/7, 7/5, 7/5. Elita missed out narrowly at No2 against a girl from Leics losing 7/4 in the third set. Daniel Bryan notched up his first win in straight sets against the Leics No3, while Ethan had an even closed match than Elita, going down 7/5, 5/7 8/6. The sets Elita and Ethan picked up in those defeats proved to be decisive later in the day.
In round 2, Northants were pitched against hot favourites, Hertfordshire. Playing with the top 9U boy in GB, and another in the top 10, Herts were always going to be a tall order to beat, and so it proved. None of the Northants players picked up a win although Daniel did win a set, and Elita pushed her opponent to 2 very close sets.
In round three it was back to winning ways against Hereford & Worcs. Showing the way from the top position again was Grayson, who showed great resolve to win in three sets despite facing set point down in the deciding set which he came through 8/6. Elita picked up her first win of the day, winning against the H&W No2 7/4 in the third. Daniel Bryan won by the same score at No3, but Ethan wasn’t able to make it a clean sweep, losing out at No4.
Having secured their place in the semi final from the Djokovic group, Northants were now faced with the winners from the Murray group, in Cambridgeshire, whos team were made up of all Orange 1star rated players. Grayson continued his terrific form and beat the No1 by 7/3, 7/3. Silins had probably her best performance of the day and beat another boy at No2 by 7/5 7/3. Daniel lost a close three setter to the Cambe No3, and Ethan was beaten at no4. Northants had won the semi final by 1 set!
Unfortunately, in the final, the Northants players were back facing the mighty Hertfordshire. In the scintillating form they had shown all day, Herts were dominant, and won all four matches in straight sets to win the title. The Herts Players were so dominant that they went the whole day without dropping a single match, which shows great concentration at such a young age. Their team were captained by former Northants player, Charlotte Gibbons.
On a day when British Tennis enjoyed the success of seeing 2 women in the top 50 in the world rankings for the first time in over 20 years, it was great to see so many young girls taking part on equal terms with the boys. This is the last age when the players are mixed, so as they move into the 10U age group with green balls that are ¾ compression and played on a whole court, the girls just play against each other.
To show the strength in depth at this age in Northants, Corby was able to submit a second team at late notice, due to the withdrawal of Bedfordshire. This team was made up of Anraj Mahill, Samuel Underwood, Joseph White and Max Pollard. Although the team came in 8th place, Samuel, Joseph and Max all had individual wins, while Anraj did well in the unenviable position of having to play at No1, all against strong Orange 1star players.
Pictured wearing their sponsored Ravensden hoodies, and carrying their soft toys are Elita Silins, Ethan La Porta, Daniel Bryan & Henry Grayson, with team captain Kevin Hoey in the background.