A combined Northumberland and Durham U12 team competed this weekend (19/20th May) at the annual Anglo-Scottish event in Largs. The players competing were:
- Ashraf Alam
- Olly Helsop
- Anthony Lai
- George Moran
- Lexi Howard
- Zoe Beamson
- Asmita Chaudri
- Emily Harrison
The weekend consisted of playing 7 matches against teams from Buckinghamshire, Borders, Lothian, Clyde, Yorkshire, Cumbria and West (of Scotland), with matches consisting of 2 boys singles, 2 girls singles, 2 boys doubles, 2 girls doubles and 2 mixed. Many teams were in reality combinations of counties.
An opener against Yorkshire saw Durhumberland streak into a 2-0 lead with Ashraf and Olly demonstrating their experience on “the circuit” with wins against familiar opponents. Despite this start, the team was unable to to register another win, although there were promising signs overcoming some early nerves to demonstrate much improved second set performances. Durhumberland 2: Yorkshire 8
Match 2 was against a combative Lothian team, wth the players gradually gaining in confidence as they became more accustomed to the vibrant atmosphere and an increased pace of game. Despite a final score loss of 1-9 (Olly and Emily winning in two sets and showing signs of even better things to come), the players demonstrated increasing promise, with the strengths of each of the 8 players beginning to materialise. The athleticism of Zoe and George’s tactical placement of strokes were a particular feature.
Match 3 saw the team up against West, with a 3 – 7 loss not remotely indicating the sheer drama that captivated the enthralled crowd. At 0 -2 down following the boys singles, Anthony’s racket skills and Lexi’s overhead power and increasingly effective net kills proved too much for their opponents, followed by a constrasting but equally effective performance from George (aka “the tactician”) and Zoe, who rarely lost a rally once she was hitting down in the forecourt. A win in the 2nd girls doubles was also a sign of increasing confidence, but close matches in the remaining doubles matches were clinched by West for a defeat that neverthless generated confidence in the less experienced team members.
Match 4 (after tea!) against Clyde and after a slow start Ashraf displayed a wide variety of strokes and excellent court craft to record a singles win at no 1. Further singles wins for Asmita (using flatter clears and a wicked reverse slice to good effect) and Lexi (showing remarkable calmness when faced by a sudden death match point) put the team at 3-3, but a run of 4 victories in the level doubles events saw West pull away to win 7 -3.
Match 5 on day 2 was against our near neighbours Cumbria. Emily was the standout player in a 9 – 1 victory, showing gradually increasing overhead power and some fantastic retrieving at the net. Ashraf and Olly demonstrated an improved commitment to a more attacking doubles formation which generated a number of explosive kills in the forecourt.
Match 6 and Borders were next on the list. An 8 – 2 victory was achieved with a solid performance from everyone, with Anthony showing particular improvements in movement on some critical points in the doubles and mixed.
Match 7 and tournament favourites Bucks were our opponents. Despite a 10 – 0 loss there were more encouraging signs, with Olly and Asmita producing highly competitive performances against strong opposition and Emily showing increasing maturity in tough matchplay situations.
A fantastic weekend – sunny weather, beautiful setting and a group of players that did themselves proud. Thanks to:
- Richard Taylor for his organisation
- The parents who both supported and helped with various tasks (including getting the players there)
- Dave Watson for assured management