Winter County Cup – Nottinghamshire Ladies
Nottinghamshire travelled to neighbouring Boston this year which proved to be a Godsend as I’ll explain later. Several last minute injuries, illnesses and prior commitments meant that, though we had a strong team, getting enough players together on the same day was proving a tough challenge.
Day 1 saw us against Dorset. First on court were Claire Godber, who had rearranged her entire work schedule the day before to be able to play on the Friday, and Laura Cooper. Both lost in very close 2 set matches but put in admirable performances. Maia Dunn was beaten by a very strong Marsha Hobbs to put us at a 3-0 deficit. Millie Rajecki then went on against Anna Sharp and delivered a very mature performance, winning in straight sets to get us on the score board. Sarah Wright played an amazing match losing narrowly to Amelia Stuart 7-5 in the deciding set but No 1 Emily Crowe, playing with severe tonsillitis put in an absolutely superb performance against another very experienced player Anna White winning comfortably 6-1 6-1.
In the doubles Laura and Claire lost at pair 3 which meant we had lost the match already but excellent performances by Millie and Emily and Sarah and Livvy Tomkins, who arrived in time to play the doubles, meant that it was a narrow 5-4 loss on the day.
Saturday we played Hampshire and the Isle of Wight. Claire had had to go back to work for the day but Laura managed to rearrange commitments to play the singles before returning back to Nottingham. Both Laura and Maia played outstanding matches, both losing narrowly in nail biting 3 set matches. Millie again produced a great performance well beyond her 15 years and Sarah, Emily and Livvy backed this up – putting us 4-2 up after the singles.
Sarah Usher and Bec Wood lost their doubles at 3 making it 4-3 with the top 2 pairs going on together. First pairing of Sarah Wright and Livvy won 6-0, 6-4 so we had the win. Emily and Millie went all out losing in a 3rd set match tie break after a great effort.
So Day 3 with all to play for against local rivals Lincolnshire who we had lost to in the summer. Again thanks to Claire and Laura who drove back yet again so that we could field a team. Claire produced a very consistent solid performance against Lianne Tapson who she had lost to several times in the past and won 6-1, 6-2. Millie, Sarah W, Emily and Livvy followed in hot pursuit giving us a 5-0 lead and victory early in the day. Bec Wood lost 6-2 6-2 against former pro player Jade Windley. In the doubles Bec and Laura lost 4-10 in a match tie break and Millie and Emily won 10-2 in the match tie break. So a 6-2 lead and a superb effort from Sarah and Livvy who lost an absolutely epic 10-8 match tie break 3rd set against Jade and her partner.
In the end Nottinghamshire were so close to being promoted. But everyone gave 100% and there was such a fantastic team spirit as always. I suspect if we hadn’t been so close to home that fielding a team on this occasion could have been a different story but thanks to everyone that rallied and gave up their hectic schedules, and to the supporters that came to watch and cheer us on every day.
I’ve heard since that our performance for the weekend helped contribute to Nottinghamshire being 11th in the Aegon County Race for 2016, a massive improvement on the previous year and earning us the most improved county award.
We’re looking forward to competing in Oxford in the Summer and all supporters are welcome to visit the North Oxford Club from July 24th – 28th.
Sarah Usher (Joint Captain)