18U County Cup Girls 2016
The 18 & Under Girls Channel Island County tennis team travelled to Cambridge over the weekend of 27th – 28th of February 2016 and played against Lincolnshire and Suffolk. Unfortunately, The Isle of Man withdrew from the division as they could not field a team at this level.
With the group only consisting of three teams the schedule of play was altered. The teams played both singles matches on the Saturday followed by both doubles on the Sunday.
The LTA Rules regarding team order have changed for 2016 and now state that players must play in British Ranking order rather than ratings order. This means that the singles order is determined by how far players have progressed in tournaments rather than how many matches they have played and the standard of players they have beaten. Obviously this is the same for all teams and does slightly distort the order relative to actual ability.
The team consisted of Natasha Forrest, Antonija Sokic, Eleanor Johnson, Katy Peggie and Lucy Hacker from Jersey and Lauren Smeed from Guernsey.
DAY ONE – SATURDAY 27th – LINCOLNSHIRE – SINGLES.
The Channel Islands first singles matches were against a very strong Lincolnshire team who had come down from group 5 last year.
Lauren, Katy and Lucy all playing in their first 18 and Under County Team event put up a great fight but lost to players who on this occasion were more consistent with more match practice under their belts. Lauren coped particularly well playing at an elevated position of number 2 against a very accomplished 4.2.
Eleanor Johnson playing at 4. And started strongly in her match but again her opponents consistency won through and she lost 3- 6, 0- 6.
Antonija Sokic rated 6.1 but playing at number 3 due to rankings battled through her early nerves against Lucy Hull (5.1) from Lincolnshire. Antonija came back from 5 – 2 down to take a very tense first set 7- 5. Although the second set score was 6- 1 to Antonija she had to work for every point with long baseline rallies showing great concentration and determination. A great win and a gutsy performance from Antonija winning 7-5, 6-1.
Natasha Forrest was last up to play against the much talked about Lincolnshire number 1 player who had not dropped a game against the Suffolk number 1 - Lydia Walker a tall left handed 17-year-old with many hours of match experience and rated at 4.2.
Natasha, rated 6.1, played herself into the first set hitting powerful groundstrokes and serves. She lost a closer than suggested first set 6- 2. Natasha remained focused and managed to target Lydia’s backhand putting herself 5- 4 up in the second set. It was at this stage that Lydia’s experience came to her aid and she managed to up her concentration and win the second set 7-5. A high level match with outstanding rallies and some really intelligent play from both players. Top singles match of the weekend with Natasha losing 6- 2, 7-5.
DAY ONE – SATURDAY 27th – SUFFOLK – SINGLES.
Second match of the day was against Suffolk who had played Lincolnshire earlier in the day.
The Channel Island girls were in positive spirits despite their earlier loses and all went on court with enthusiasm and positivity.
Lucy lost but had a much closer match than her score line suggested with many deuce games and long baseline rallies.
Katy had opportunities in her first set and narrowly lost it 6 -4. She kept a positive smile on her face throughout the second set but her higher rated opponent managed to hold her nerve.
Due to rankings Eleanor had to play the Suffolk number 2. whose movement and consistency proved too much for Eleanor who was struggling with her serve which is normally her number one weapon.
Antonija was against the up and coming Maddie Mcloughlin rated 5.1 and ranked at number 10 Nationally at 12 and Under.
Antonija’s head to head from previous matches with Maddie sitting at 1- 1 there appeared to be all to play for. Unfortunately, Antonija quickly lost the first few games and appeared to be struggling to move. It soon became apparent that she had picked up an injury from her challenging singles match earlier. Antonija reluctantly retired at 5- 1 down conceding a match that could have been a real thriller.
Lauren Smeed was not fazed by her earlier loss and gave a very confident performance against another much higher rated player. She lost the first set 6- 1 but picked up her groundstroke game in the second set and moved her opponent around the court. The Suffolk player finally coming out on top 6- 1, 6- 3.
Natasha Forrest refueled and ready to go came back on court to dominate her second singles match against a lower ranked player. She focused hard and was on and off the court in no time with a 6-2, 6-1 victory.
After all the Singles matches were completed on DAY ONE the Channel Island girls were 5- 1 down against both Lincolnshire and Suffolk... which did not reflect the quality of their play.
DAY TWO – SUNDAY 28th – LINCOLNSHIRE – DOUBLES.
Historically Channel Island Tennis Teams are well known for some great doubles matches and all girls were keen to get on court and show their true fighting spirit.
The doubles format was interesting with no AD scoring throughout the sets (receiving pair to choose who receives) and a championship tie break to decide the third set.
Eleanor and Katy had an excellent match playing as third pair which could have swung either way. They eventually lost 6-4, 6-3 but were clearly growing in confidence.
Lauren and Katy were overpowered as second pair but fought all the way losing 6- 0, 6- 1.
Thankfully Antonija was fit enough to partner Natasha at pair one. They had the momentum for most of the match and were very unlucky to lose the first set 7-4 in the tie break. A couple of missed volleys here and there in the second set swung the advantage to Lincolnshire who eventually won 7 – 6, 6 - 4.
FINAL SCORE LINCOLNSHIRE 8 CHANNEL ISLANDS 1
DAY TWO – SUNDAY 28th – SUFFOLK – DOUBLES.
The pairings were kept the same for the final doubles matches of the weekend and all girls arrived on court looking far more confident than the start of the weekend.
There was a fantastic moment during all of their second sets when all CI pairs were positively interacting and the score boards all favoured the Channel Island Team.
All of the doubles matches could have gone either way and although Antonija and Natasha were the only pair who managed to pull of a win all girls were winners in the true sense - showing determination, excellent team spirit and top class sportsmanship.
FINAL SCORE SUFFOLK 7 CHANNEL ISLANDS 2
All players in this year’s team showed huge potential and will be eligible for at least another two years offering a fantastic opportunity to build a great team for the future.
Both the tournament referee and Local LTA councilor spoke very highly of our teams and commented on their positive attitude and fair play.
Team Captain 18U Girls County Cup 2016