After a good season which saw the U18’s win all their games bar one – a loss against an exceptionally strong Warwickshire 1 team – the team found themselves in 10th place in the league table and facing a tough draw against Lancashire for a place in the final 8 on Shires League Finals day This prospect was made even tougher by the absence of regulars Ryan and Nikhil so grateful thanks go to Harry Clare who gave up his holiday to enable the fixture to go ahead! And so it was the team found themselves making the long journey to Southport on a sunny Saturday in April with the higher placed Lancs team having the benefit of the home draw and obviously feeling confident of a home win…..
Martin Beynon, Jai Chandarana, Harry Clare, Tom Cowperthwaite
Eve Dale, Ella Haines, Hritika Modi, Issy Paterson-Watts, Izzy Pike
The team made a flying start in the mixed doubles with Jai & Eve, Martin & Ella and Tom & Hritika all recording straight sets wins with only U16’s Harry & Izzy losing out to their Lancashire opponents in 2 very close ends. The score after the mixed was 3-1 to the visitors.
Lancashire have strength in depth in the singles however and so it was to be today with only Jai and Issy able to convert their pressure into wins; however, Martin, Tom and Izzy all took their games to the 3rd end, which would be of critical importance later on…..
With the score after the singles now 7-5 in favour of Lancashire and the match so finely balanced, the team knew they had to work for every single point in the level doubles. Round 1 of the boys saw Jai & Harry win but Martin & Tom lose a very close game, again taking it to the all-important 3rd end. The girls’ teams of Eve & Issy and Ella & Izzy worked hard to win both their level doubles with both going to 3. The score going into the reversed levels round was still a dead heat at 8-8 and the end result would depend on these last 4 games!!
First up were the boys and first blood went to Team Leicestershire with Jai & Harry walking off court 21-19 21-11 winners. Martin and Tom unfortunately lost in 2, 21-18 21-17. The score now 9 all. Eve & Issy walked off court against the Lancs #2 pair 21-16 21-18 winners; could Ella & Izzy gain outright victory for Leicestershire? The Lancs first pair took the first 21-13 but Ella & Izzy fought back to take the second 21-19. In the 3rd and deciding end, it was point for point the whole way, the whole team were cheering the girls on. It wasn’t to be though with Lancs stealing the game away at the last 22-20.
The final score: Leicestershire 10 – Lancashire 10. When the numbers were crunched, Leicestershire were declared the overall winners by just a couple of ends with Leicestershire finishing on 25 and Lancashire 22, proof once again that every point really does matter. The team had just booked their place in the last 8 on Finals day on the 23rd April!!