Captain: Mark Towers
Event: Under 14 Boys County Cup Qualifier
Division: Group C
Date: 2,3,4 May 2015
Venue: Stourbridge Lawn Tennis and Squash Club
Team (left to right in photo): Joel Hemmings, Gabriel V L Johnson, Luke Ince, Will Caunt, Rishi Kalia and Jacob Dunk.
Nottinghamshire V Buckinghamshire 0-6
Nottinghamshire v Hereford and Worcestershire 1-5
Nottinghamshire v Shropshire 4-2
Report Day 1. V Bucks
What a great club. Fantastic views of eight of their courts, including a grass banked show court, from a large terrace off the bar/restaurant area. Robert Plant is a member but no sign of him this weekend.
The boys are scheduled to play two doubles rubbers against H&W. We had identified these matches as pivotal as one or two wins here would allow us to start the singles on day two with some knowledge of our opponents and a foothold in the match. However, due to a poor weather forecast for the following day, our match against Bucks was moved to day one, meaning that our first sortie would be straight singles against one of the favourite teams who already had a match under their belts, and doubles if there was time. Luke and Rishi both fought well but neither managed to take the first set. This was to become something of a pattern. Luke could not quite get the momentum in the second and conceded the rubber 4-2. Rishi had a huge push in the second and won it 7-5. He carried on into the third set but was broken at 5-3 up and the third set went to a tie break but his opponent kept him pinned back at 4 points. Bucks went 2-0 up in the match. Joel and Gabriel’s matches were no less fraught. Joel lost the first to 1 and Gabriel to 2 against Bucks’ on-form No1. Joel rallied well in the second and took it to another tie-break (no2) which went against him 4-10 to give Bucks another rubber which, along with Gabriel’s, made them 4-0 up in rubbers and effectively winning the match. Off to the hotel for debriefing and dinner.
Up and out running to the viaduct and back before breakfast. Ouch.
The first two doubles matches were dead rubbers against Bucks so we got to warm up our games in a no-pressure situation. Jacob and Luke were unable to make ground in their fixture. Will and Rishi, continued with the second-set-comeback-and-tie-break formula. They lost the first, by one break and took the next, incredibly played set, to a tie-break but could not convert.¬¬¬¬ Matches like these, win or lose, remind me of why I love this game.
V Herefordshire and Worcestershire
Tired feet fail to take any singles rubbers against H&W but not for want of trying. Doubles gave us a chance to put a win under our belt. Joel and Gabriel finished 2 and 2 down leaving Rishi and Luke with our last chance of a win today. The formula went completely out of the window and the boys won the first set in a set tie/break to 2. The second set was lost to 4 but, from nowhere, and in developing rain, came a tie-break win to 7 to give us our first win of the weekend. It felt like a final and everyone following on twitter went wild. 1-5 and into day 3 for the 5th and 6th place play off. We decided to try a different restaurant for dinner. It turned out to be in Wales (almost) and with the same population.
Day 3. V Shropshire.
Disaster strikes! Match time 8.30 ETA 7.30. Pre-breakfast run culminates at the restaurant; they inform us they are not opening until 8.00! Bags are packed and engines are revved and breakfast is taken at a popular fast food establishment. We arrive in time for a good warm up and ready to play. The two other teams in our hotel just turned up an hour late. Hmm.
Will and Luke are on singles duty. Will can’t find the form he’s had in previous matches and goes down 3 and 1. Luke however has noticed that the tie-break curse has been lifted and takes both first and second set to 6-6 and converts both tie-breaks! Our 7th and 8th of the meet. A singles win! We are elated, as are the club members who have adopted us as the nicest team. Next was Joel’s turn to have a purple patch and his 1 and 4 defeat was as much to do with his physical exertions as his opponent’s crafty play. If Gabriel could take on another county No1 and overturn them (despite his still qualifying for the lower age bracket) we would be in with a chance at 2-2. He only went and did it. Winning in straight sets 2 and 2 and totally dominating his opponent who had been playing very well. Game on!
Will and Rishi on court in front of the home crowd (members, parents, Jacob and Joel), and Luke and Gabriel on show court in front of everyone else. Captain took to scurrying between courts to convey results and encouragement. No1 pair lost the first set and this inspired No2 pair to win theirs. Then the reverse, 1s won the second (early formula) and 2s lost theirs (new formula). Tie-breaks numbers 9 and 10. Will and Rishi converted theirs conceding 6 points. This put us 3-2 up in the match and facing a win if the No1s could close out or in a shoot out if they couldn’t. Will and Rishi and the assembled masses rushed over to show court to see the end of the second set and the tie-break. I would like to say the opposition crumbled, lost momentum and conceded the tie quickly and with little defence. But they didn’t. Final score 14-12 and the match to Notts.
Praise from other teams, club staff, ref and officials, and members was thrust upon them as we left. We may have come 5th but the moral victory was ours. Thanks to all players, parents, county reps and Maria, who all made this weekend very enjoyable. A huge thank you from everybody to Jacob who, as travelling reserve in an older team, saw frustratingly little front line action but was an integral part of the team.