On 26 and 27 May 2018 the Northumberland under 13 team competed in the Anglo Scottish tournament at the Scottish National Sports Centre in Largs, Ayrshire. The team comprised Xuehan Zhang, Ryan Cockett, Cameron Twynholm, Sam Best, Lucy Dodd, Eve Beechinor Collins, Merin Cherian and Anna Craig (borrowed from West of Scotland). This was a new experience for most of the team, with only one having played in the event before. The team managers were Gillian Cockett and Joel Dodd and this is Joel’s report on the weekend.
The first match was against West of Scotland, with the team securing a very creditable 5:5 draw against the team that eventually came 3rd overall: unfortunately the match was lost on points. The team fought hard straight from the off, with Ryan, Sam & Merin, Xuehan & Ryan and Lucy & Anna all winning tough matches in a deciding third end. Particular credit to Ryan who won a nerve jangling match 15:14, 14:15, 7:6. Anna also had a good win in the singles against one of her local rivals.
The remaining matches on Saturday were against the traditionally strong teams of Clyde (Glasgow and Lanarkshire), Yorkshire and Lothian, with the team losing 8:2, 9:1 and 8:2 respectively. All the players battled away against strong and experienced opposition, including a number of national players from both England and Scotland.
Clyde had strong boys in their team, with Northumberland failing to win any of the boys singles and doubles. The girls faired better winning both of the girls doubles; Lucy & Anna winning comfortably (15:4, 15:4) and Eve & Merin with a hard fought win, winning 7:6 in the third end. Cameron & Anna were unlucky to lose their mixed doubles, agonisingly losing 7:6 in the third end and Eve was unfortunate to lose her singles in a third end.
Yorkshire fielded a strong team at the event. Whilst Northumberland lost all but one of the matches, it was a good opportunity for the team to test themselves against far more experienced opposition. Xuehan & Anna played well to comfortably win their mixed doubles in 2 ends (15:12, 15:2), ensuring that the team got a score on the board. Credit goes to Eve for fighting to the end against the number 1 girl in England – an experience she will not forget in a hurry!
After dinner, the team played their last match of the day against Lothian. Ryan & Anna played well in their mixed doubles, winning a close first end 15:14 and securing the win 15:12 in the second. Lucy & Anna secured the only other victory, battling back to win a close fought match against a strong Lothian pair 13:15, 15:14, 7:5.
After a good nights sleep, the team returned to play their final 3 matches. First up was the unknown quantity of Scottish Highlands, who have not played in the event in recent years. The boys in the Highlands team proved to be too strong for the Northumberland team, with Northumberland losing all of the boys singles and doubles. The Northumberland girls had better fortunes, with Lucy and Anna both comfortably winning their singles in 2 ends and combining to win their doubles, again in 2 ends. The overall match result turned Highlands’ way after they won two close matches in the third end; Xuehan & Eve won the first end of their mixed doubles 15:11 before narrowly losing the second 14:15 and the third 7:4. Eve & Merin came back from a 15:13 loss in the first end of their girls doubles to win the second 15:5, but the Highland team recovered their form to win the deciding end 7:4.
Next up was Scottish Borders, with all our team members victorious in a 9:1 overall win. Highlights were Xuehan and Ryan securing comfortable wins in their singles, Cameron & Anna winning their mixed doubles and Sam & Merin battling back from a 14:15 loss in the first end to win the second 15:13 and the third 7:2.
The final match was against Cumbria; matches against Cumbria are traditionally close and this one was no exception. Cameron and Sam fought hard, but were both beaten in the opening boys singles. In what proved to be the key match, Xuehan & Anna played brilliantly to win their mixed doubles 7:5 in the third end against a strong Cumbria pair, including the number 1 ranked boy at U12 level in England. Ryan & Eve also won their mixed doubles to tie the match at 2:2, with Lucy and Merin then securing comfortable wins in the girls singles to give Northumberland a 4:2 lead. Cumbria pulled the match back to 4:4 after winning both of the boys doubles, with Xuehan & Ryan pushing a strong Cumbria first pair hard before losing narrowly. A 6:4 victory was secured after the pairs of Lucy & Anna and Eve & Merin both won their doubles in two ends.
Northumberland finished the weekend in 6th place out of 8, which was a creditable performance by the team, many of whom are new to playing at county level.
No visit to Largs is complete without a trip to the famous ice cream shops and the team finished the weekend off with a well earned ice cream at the seaside before heading home.