After months of matches around the Midlands both the U12 and U14 girls from the Nottingham Tennis Centre qualified for the highly anticipated AEGON Team Tennis Finals down in Roehampton and we were not disappointed. It was a chance for the NG7 girls to come together and play as one and we were ready for the challenges that lay ahead.
We arrived on Friday for practice, dinner, team chats and a good nights sleep. As well as some down time where games were played and the girls discovered how competitive Mike and I were at table football and heads up!
Monday Mornng and I had the pleasure of captaining the U12 Team of Lilia Bulkikova, Anna Buckley, Amelia Rajecki and Millie-Mae Matthews. The girls showed me that they are true fighters and have a lot of determination and grit. All assets we want to instil in the players at MyTennis Nottingham. We had a back against the wall as we were playing the number one seeds. Triple M got us off to a great start with accurate serving and consistent baseline play. 1-0 Amelia made a good start but came up just short. 1-1 Buckley up next and the silent assassin did what she does best by dominating with her backhand. 2-1 Lilia then took to the court and played some classy tennis but her opponent was composed. Going into the doubles we were at 2-2. Unfortunately we lost both doubles rubbers but we were gracious in defeat and shook all our opponents hands and wished them well in the final.
Meanwhile Captain Mike Peel was on the dirt under the canopy with the U14 Team of Alice Thane, Vic Allen, Anna Loughlan, Anna Chesca, Liz Massie and Millie Devey Smith playing Bromley Academy. Unfortunately the team had taken a blow as Anna Loughlan after an impressive two weeks of back-to-back Tennis Europe victories was nursing an injury but was there for support. So kicking them off was Chesca who was playing a string baseliner and had come up just short. 0-1. Up next a confident Liz Massie who looked 10ft tall and gave the captain confidence that she had got this and she delivered! 1-1. Up next The Allen who used her cunning game style to out fox her opponent. 2-1. Thane up next against a formidable opponent and even though Alice showed an impressive display it wasn’t to be 2-2. On to the doubles where Massie partnered MDS and even though she hadn’t hit a ball she relished in this environment. The girls but on an impressive display and won a nail biting third set Tiebreak 3-2. Thane and Allen take the stage and it’s clear to see that they will be up against it. Their opponents served for the match twice but with some good interventions from Mike and I plus the support of now all the girls we were in full force well Millie Mae’s voice and us clapping when prompted by whatever cheer she was doing. The girls turned the match on tis head breezing the win in the Champs tiebreak. Boom 4-2 and a place in the final however first things first time for a shower, some food and chill out. A nice walk down to pizza express where as we arrived seemed to be a popular choice for the teams. Tummy’s full and al relaxed plenty of sleep ready for Sundays matches.
Day Two of matches and inside the U12s were taking on Bolton Arena again Triple M was kicking us off and she was not going to disappoint she played with poise, aggression and wait for it drive volley winners on countless times it was an inspired performance 1-0. Amelia followed and was more herself showing great fight and comeback ability before succumbing 10-8 in a match tiebreak 1-1. Buckley was in a battle of a first set with the set balanced at 5-5 a 15 minute game that went the other way proved to be crucial 1-2. By this time we had two courts in action and Lilia and her opponent were playing some breath taking tennis after a high level encounter Lilia’s opponent was triumphant 1-3. Triple M and Amelia were locked in a tussle to keep us in the tie but we came up just short of two tight sets 1-4. A 4th place for the girls with the disappointment of knowing that on a different weekend we could have been in the final and maybe even taking home the trophy. We will learn and we will take the experience on to our individual competition over the summer. Watch this space for some inspired performances and results.
In the final the U14s were taking on the Giants of the draw The West Hants Club who had history of constantly taking this trophy home. A tactical change saw MDS taking to the singles court first after her impressive performance in the doubles the day before, however her opponent was seeing the ball like a beach ball and no matter how much Millie tried to change it up the girl was on fire 0-1. Liz had history with her opponent 2 matches played 2 losses in third sets so we knew that this was going to be tight and boy it was two split sets saw yet again a third set tiebreak which unfortunately followed suit of their previous two encounters 0-2. The Allen started slowly and before the blink of an eye it was 0-5 all seemed lost but in a tight 3rd set and after regaining composure she made the decision to have Mike on court and won that set on a tiebreak before taking the match tiebreak. 1-2. Again Alice had a tough opponent a highly ranked international player and even though she played her best tennis of the weekend it wasn’t quite enough 1-3. MDS and Liz went on to try and claw our way back into the match unfortunately it wasn’t to be and the match was lost 4-1. We had ended runners up but had given them a fight.
After presentations and photos it was time for home or on to the next tournament. A long weekend of highs and lows and plenty of laughs had come to an end.
All the girls were an asset to the centre and to themselves and their parents. As a coach and Team captain I could not have been prouder in how we fought, behaved and gelled as a team over the weekend. I can say that NG7 proved that we are a team with great spirit and fight.
Next year we will be back and our opponents should be warned that we will be better, stronger, faster and more resilient. We are hungry for the titles and we will not go down without a fight.