Aegon 12U County Cup Finals
Notts County Teams are sponsored by Brentag
Friday 14 to Sunday 16 July
We arrived in a rainy Bolton at 12 noon on Friday for a practice before our first match against West of Scotland at 2pm. Our team of Eva Shaw, Jessica Spencer, Olivia Corfe & Mia Wainwright were ready and up for the battles ahead. We swiftly took a 3-0 lead with Eva, Jess & Olivia winning all three singles without dropping a set. Eva & Jess then went on for the doubles, winning in 25 minutes & only dropping 4 games in total. We were leaving the arena to check into our hotel whilst the other 15 competing counties were still busy playing. That could only mean one thing.....an early dinner at Harvester!!!
The second day started with an early practice session ahead of our first match against Kent (who had lost to Yorkshire on the previous day). With both the boys & girls competing at Bolton Arena each match was assigned one court. This meant all our focus could be on one match and plenty of support for our team mates. Eva took us into the lead with an array of blistering winners and balanced play winning 4-1, 4-0 against Kent’s number 1 player. Jess stepped up to play next against an experienced and clever player. Jess narrowly missed taking the first set and eventually lost 4-5, 0-4 leaving us 1-1 after the 2nd round. Olivia then went onto play, the first set going all our way winning 4-0, but her opponent composed herself and took the second set 0-4, sending us into a match tiebreak third set. It was a battle of nerves and who could stay calm in this stressful situation. After plenty of long rallies Kent took the 3rd match.
Eva & Jess then went on for the doubles with us 1-2 down. The powerful duo of Jess & Eva was too much for the Kent pair winning 4-0, 4-0. This meant going into a shootout. The shootout is one doubles match tiebreak. I chose Eva & Jess to go on for the shootout. They showcased their doubles tactics, winning volleys and great communication to win the match against Kent.
By lunch time on Saturday we had beaten West of Scotland and Kent, knowing our biggest battle lay ahead against Yorkshire. Eva went on to play the very experienced Millie Skelton & although the battle was on, Eva remained calm & demonstrated some world class play against a very good national player. Eva won 4-0, 5-3. 1-0 to Notts! Jess then went onto compete against Mia Sibley.....with Jess telling me she lost last time they played. We had a team chat and Jess very professionally employed some key tactics and game plans to beat Mia. Jess won 4-0, 4-2. Mature play brought the win in for Jess.
2-0 up against Yorkshire.....the final was in sight!!! Olivia played Zara Man of Yorkshire, again a very experienced player who did not make many mistakes. The match was very close with most games going to deuce. Olivia used her great building skills to dominate the points, Olivia fought so hard but her opponent gave her nothing. Notts were 2- 1 up going into the doubles. If we win, we were into the final on the Sunday.
As captain I was mainly on court with the girls providing tactics and support for the girls during their matches. This doubles was a nail biter! After an hour of play it was one set each, so a match tiebreak started. The Yorkshire team remained focused and composed, and with a few mistakes here and there from us Yorkshire won the doubles. Another shoot out it was then!
Everything was on this doubles shoot out. Eva & Jess were ready and eager for the win. They had to help each other through as nerves were clearly affecting both pairs. 9-9 in the match tie break & everyone was sweating, supporters shouting and the thought of the final was in sight for both counties. However Yorkshire won the shootout 9-11.
I couldn’t ask any more of the girls, they fought hard and never gave up! The loss was real & tough. But an evening meal at Frankie & Benny’s and a team chat soon re focused us for our 3rd/4th play off against South Wales on Sunday.
Sunday started with another early morning practice. Eva making short work of a very accomplished player winning 4-2, 4-1. Eva’s continually impressed me with her tennis brain and clever play which is rarely seen in under 12 girls.....someone to watch for the future!
Jess beat Rebecca Dow 4-1, 4-1. Jess played her best tennis in this match as she relaxed and allowed herself to believe in her tennis. Jess played confidently and adopted a great game plan. Throughout the weekend Jess was always willing and able to adopt varying game plans to beat different opponents. Well done Jess.
Olivia then played Sofia Chivers winning 4-2, 4-2. Again I think Olivia played her best tennis today and aggressively built each point. She gave nothing away and confidently controlled the match against a very good player. I very much enjoyed watching Olivia’s athleticism, focus & smart play.
A win against South Wales.
Nottinghamshire U12 girls take third place in the finals!
Eva & Mia then went on for a relaxed doubles which they had fun with and enjoyed very much. Mia had supported all weekend so it was a great opportunity for the girls to watch Mia.
I am so proud of all the girls. They individually impressed me with their maturity on court and it was nice to see each of them develop and take something from the weekend. I won’t mention the phone bans we put in place..... However, I did learn how to boomerang on Instagram!!!s 12U girls come third in the country!
Finally, I want to thank Jayne Spencer for all her help with travel & looking after four under 12 girls!!! I wouldn’t have been able to do my role properly without her help and the help of Olivia’s mum Anna. Thank you ladies!
Well done Notts!
Pictured left to right: Jess Spencer, Eva Shaw, Steph Barling (capt), Olivia Corfe, Mia Wainwright
Steph Barling - Captain