Warwickshire Under 9 tennis team have won the West Midlands section of the Junior County Cup, beating Shropshire, Staffordshire and Hereford and Worcestershire on successive days. The team of 4 boys and 4 girls started strongly, beating Shropshire 8-1 with Sam Kingston and Archie Delves-Payne each coming back from a set down in their singles matches. Alice Wilson-Marsh and Lily-Ann Southwell then took their opening singles in straight sets but the gritty Diya Dhokia had to fight all the way before winning an epic 3-setter 8-6 in the decider to secure overall victory before the doubles rubbers.
Against Staffordshire, the county trailed 1-2 after the three boys’ singles but Christina Pham and Diya Dhokia each won comfortably in straight sets. Alice Wilson-Marsh upset the form-books to beat Isabella Walker, one of Britain’s top Under 9 players in three sets after one of the highest quality rubbers of the event. After Warwickshire lost both the boys and girls doubles, everything depended on the mixed rubber, but Delves-Payne and Dhokia cantered through in style, 7-1 7-3 to secure a 5-4 win
Group leaders Hereford and Worcestershire demonstrated the strength in depth of their boys’ lineup, taking the first two singles in straight sets. Matthew Gardiner stopped the rot , however, with a fighting 3-set victory over the previously unbeaten Theo Houston thanks to some ferocious hitting and volleying. Once again, Warwickshire girls won all three singles but then the county lost the boys’ and girls’ doubles, to leave the tie evenly poised at 4-4 and the overall title riding on the final mixed doubles. Gardiner again stepped up to the plate and he and Lily Ann Southwell went for their shots boldly, outhitting their opposition 7-1 7-1, to secure the match and the Championship, to the delight of team captain James Roe, head coach at Kenilworth Tennis Club.
“I’m really proud of all our youngsters,” he said. “Every one of them played their hearts out and kept battling away whatever the situation in their matches. They behaved impeccably throughout and best of all they seemed to have a lot of fun and really looked as though they were enjoying themselves. The match against Hereford and Worcester could not have been closer as they’re a very strong side – but once again it was our mixed doubles specialists who proved decisive, keeping their nerve and snatching the Championship in style. It certainly bodes well for the future of Warwickshire tennis to have such a good crop of young players coming through.”