On the 20th/21st January several of Team Leicestershire’s U15’s travelled to the 4th gold standard event of the season including Sophie Watson, Luke Hoult, Owen King, Tilly Dale, Grace Sherwin and Carly Stevenson.
This time, Sophie teamed up with England player Sam Jones in the mixed and formed a one-off partnership with Irish number 1 girl Sophia Noble in the level doubles and after some tough games on the first day, Sophie got int 2 semi-finals.
In the mixed, Sophie & Sam just lost out to the eventual winners Oliver Butler & Sophie Hillman 23-21 in the 2nd end. The girls fought hard in the level doubles semi, losing out to the top pairing but a great experience for Sophie and 2 bronze medals this time, bringing her tally to 5 medals from 4 gold events. This time, Luke was unlucky to miss out on a medal after losing a close doubles quarter-final!
Grace & Carly partnered up for women’s doubles at the Yorkshire U15 Silver event on Saturday 6th January and won all 3 games in the box to progress to the finals. They met a Yorkshire pair in the final but were unable to come out on top which meant a silver medal on the day.
Grace and her partner Joe Howells from Herefordshire comfortably progressed through the rounds in the mixed event. They met Scottish pairLewis & Stalker in the final and won 15-9 15-12 giving Grace a gold medal and her second medal of the day.
Following on from their successes in the recent U15 Gold tournaments at Derby & Bath, Sophie Watson and Luke Hoult were hoping to make it 3 from 3 at the last Gold standard event of 2017 in Nottingham on the weekend of 9th/10th December.
For Sophie & regular partner Megan, they progressed untroubled through the group stage to book their place in the semis on Sunday; with the heavy snowfall on Saturday night hampering the tournament, the girls won an automatic place in the final, fighting hard against the top seeds but losing out in the closest of games 24-26 in the 3rd end. Another excellent silver medal, perhaps it will be gold next time!
Over in the boys event, Luke & regular partner Jake have also had a flying start to the season with back to back bronze medals in Derby & Bath; they went into this event as the #3 seeds. In the group stage they had a bit of a scare when Robin Harper and Fred Robertson took them to 3 ends but Luke & Jake showed their experience to take the 3rd end 21-12.
So into the semi-finals again and standing in their way for a place in the final was once again Sam Jones & Oliver Butler. Luke & Jake battled hard and had a real chance to get them this time but the England pair held their nerve in a very tense game, keeping their shots tight and consistent to take the first end 21-18. The second was even more tense and ended with victory for Sam & Oliver 23-21! Although disappointed, Luke & Jake have decided they will get them next time!!
Saturday 28th October and many of the U15 Team Leics PC players travelled south to Bath for the second gold standard event of the season. Although injuries curtailed some efforts in both mixed doubles and singles, there were no such problems in the levels doubles for our #1 stars Luke Hoult & Sophie Watson, both of whom came away with a brilliant bronze medal……
For Luke (and partner Jake Prentice) progressing through to Sunday’s play was a reward for winning the group stage the previous day which then set up a tough semi final against Dan McMillan & Joseph Scott. After losing the first 21-17, Luke & Jake came back strongly to win the second set 21-16 but were unable to capitalise on this momentum, losing out on a place in the final to 14 in the final set.
It was a similar story in the women’s doubles for Sophie (with partner Megan Brierley). Having made short work of their group by winning both games without dropping a set, a far tougher challenge faced them on Sunday morning in the shape of Leona Lee & Tashvi Parab. Losing 21-15 in the first didn’t deter the East Midlands girls who came back strongly to win the second nail-biter 22-20 but they were unable to hang on for the win.
Congratulations to Luke & Sophie on a fantastic achievement!
On Sunday 22nd October the U15 Team travelled to Sheffield for the first of 2 legs of the annual North Midway League. With many Leicestershire schools on half term, the team blended many faces from last season’s U14 Shires League winners with a new generation of younger and less experienced players…..
Evie, Carly, Emma & Fallon
Owen, Ayush, Lewis, Elliott & Tom
There were 9 teams that entered:
All teams were put in groups of 3 and Leicestershire drew Yorkshire 1 & Derbyshire in their group. We played Derbyshire first and won 10-0. Up next was Yorkshire 1 – after some very close games that went in Leicestershire’s favour, we took the rubber 6-4 to win the group overall.
Up next was the winners of the other 2 groups Warwickshire & Lancashire. We played well against the 2 very strong teams & lost to both teams 9-1 with some very close games.
Leicestershire go into the second leg of the Midway in 3rd place.
Saturday 9th September saw most of the Shires League winning U14 squad from last season make the short trip to Derby for the first U15 Gold tournament of the year in what would likely be a tough start to the new season after the long summer break.
With mixed doubles up first, unfortunately none of the Leicestershire players were able to progress to the latter stages of the competition, although Luke & Sophie reached the 3rd round, only just losing out on a place in the semi finals.
It was a similar story in the singles with none being able to progress further but hopes were high for the level doubles to come, typically a strength for these players.
And so it was to be, with both Luke (with partner Jake) and Sophie (with partner Megan) winning comfortably through from their groups. Luke and Jake booked their places for Sunday’s order of play with a gritty win against Sam Baker and Thomas Ley in 3 close ends with Sophie & Megan going straight through as the winners of Group 3.
On Finals Sunday, Luke & Jake were unlucky to be facing the #1 seeds Butler & Jones but did fantastically well to take it to 3, eventually losing 15-21 21-15 21-12 but earning a brilliant bronze medal. Sophie and Megan went one better, beating Arksey & Shirol 21-17 22-20 to reach the final. On this occasion, the combined might of England players Lisa Curtin & Estelle van Leeuwen proved a barrier too far with the East Midlands girls losing 21-15 21-10 to take home a superb silver medal.
On the weekend of September 1st-2nd, Sophie Watson travelled to Lisburn Racket Club in Ireland for the first tournament of the year.
She reached the quarter finals in both singles and mixed but went one better in the level doubles, beating the #1 seeds in the semi final to go through to the final where she and partner Megan Brierley from Notts narrowly lost out 21-18 in the 3rd end. A great performance to achieve a silver medal again in an international event.
Leicestershire fielded several players any the recent U15 Silver event played in Sheffield at the Concord Sports Centre with Danny Beynon and Tom Paterson-Watts pairing up for the boys and Evie Pike and Grace Sherwin representing the girls.
Although none of the players managed a medal in the singles, both Tom and Danny won their respective groups before being knocked out by the eventual winner and the top seed respectively. They teamed up to replicate this achievement in the doubles to guarantee a medal, again being unlucky to face the eventual gold medal winners in their semi-final to take the bronze on this occasion.
In the mixed doubles, Grace paired with regular Lancashire partner Akshay who was already celebrating double gold in the singles and level doubles and looking to make it 3 from 3! Things went to plan with Grak & Ak winning their group easily before facing local Yorkshire pair Lucy Fowler & John Lowe, coming back after losing the first game to win the next to 8 and 6. On to the final and the Leics/Lancs pair faced Katherine Arksey & Russell Yeng who proved too strong on this occasion, so it was a silver medal this time for Grace!
After a fantastic season which has seen them win numerous medals ups and down the country in the womens’ doubles, Jess Allen & Tamsin Betts were on course for a good performance at the U15 English National Championships on 8/9th April 2017.
With a favourable early draw which saw them avoid the top 4 seeded pairs, the girls proceeded to win Group E, beating Emma Goddard & Learna Herkes 21-10 21-10 before coming up against fellow Leicestershire entrant Sophie Watson with new partner Khushi Naik. After a close first game, edged 22-20 by Jess & Tamsin, the girls proceeded into the next round with a 21-16 win in the second.
Sunday saw the girls drawn against Katherine Arksey & Smith Shirol, a pair they had beaten just a few weeks earlier at the Warwickshire U16 Silver; hopes were high that they could repeat their earlier victory and win a place in the semi finals….could they do it? As happened in Warwickshire, the girls lost the first game 11-21 but fought back, taking the second 21-14 and the 3rd and deciding game 21-17!
The semi-final then saw them pitted against the second seeds Milly Evans and Estelle van Leeuwen who on this occasion proved a barrier too far for the Leicestershire pair who went down fighting 9-21 17-21 but who earned themselves a National bronze medal nonetheless!