Team Leicestershire’s Sophie Watson had a very busy and successful February, travelling the length of the country competing in the north and south of the UK and experiencing equal success in both!
First up was the U17 Silver at Teeside on their way to visit friends where Sophie teamed up with Lincolnshire’s Megan Diggle to win a gold medal in the WD before heading off to the U19 National Championships on 9/10th Feb – a great experience for her.
She then headed off to Bournemouth for a few days with Sophie Hillman where they teamed up in WD to play the half term Hampshire U17 Silver on 13th Feb. After winning their group and seeing off a tough pair in the final, the girls brought home gold again for a great end to half term for Sophie!
Saturday 17th February saw several Team Leicestershire juniors attend the penultimate U17 Gold event of the season in order to pit their wits and rackets against the best players in the UK at this age group.
Making a great start in the mixed, Izzy Pike & Harry Clare reached the quarter-final stage for the first time where they found Warwickshire pair Milly Evans & Nathan Moore too strong on this occasion. This feat was equalled by Jess Rodgers in the GS where she won her box but was unable to quite overcome Nottinghamshire’s Megan Brierley, battling through a tough 3 setter but losing out in the 3rd.
Having also won her group in GS, Jess Allen then pulled out a stunning win in her quarter-final, beating Surrey’s Charlotte Atkins in straight sets to 12 & 17, thereby earning herself a place in Sunday’s finals day. Facing #1 seed Sophie Hillman in her semi-final, Jess steamrolled her way into the final with another superb win 21-13 21-11 to face Megan Brierley who was no match for Jess on dominant form, earning herself the gold medal with a 21-19 21-14 victory!
On Sunday 17th December Team Leics U17 players Harry Clare, Izzy Pike & Jess Rodgers made the long trip north to the Tees Valley for the final U17 Silver event of 2017.
With Izzy & Jess buoyed by medals at recent U17 silver events in Yorkshire and Lancashire it was 3 from 3 for the girls with another excellent silver medal, matched over in the boys doubles where Harry & partner Finlay took silver against a strong Yorkshire pair in the final.
With Izzy & Harry then teaming up as #1seeds in the mixed doubles and coming off the back of a run of strong performances in recent months, they were determined to end the year on a high. After a couple of very tense group games, the final was a one-sided affair with the Leicestershire pair demolishing the opposition 15-6 15-12 for the gold!
Sunday 3rd December saw the U17’s travel to the Concord Leisure Centre in Sheffield to tackle the first leg of the annual North Midway League – one of the players’ favourite fixtures of the season!
With several counties unfortunately missing due to Shires League clashes, the day was not as keenly contested as usual but hopes were high that Team Leicestershire could make a strong start to their campaign to win the League for the second consecutive year.
Sameer Chenia, Harry Clare, Rowan Clark, Joe Goodenough, Tom Paterson- Watts
With easy wins in every rubber, the team are in an excellent position to repeat this feat, finishing in first overall position having lost only 5 games all day and posting a total of 1026 points, well ahead of second place Yorkshire 1 with 928:-
Leicestershire 10 – 0 Lancashire
Leicestershire 8 – 2 Yorkshire 1
Leicestershire 10 – 0 Cheshire
Leicestershire 8 – 2 Staffordshire
Leicestershire 9 – 1 Yorkshire 2
The second leg will be played in March 2018 to determine the overall league winners.
Congratulations to Izzy Pike & Jess Rodgers on winning their second silver medal in the women’s doubles at back-to-back U17 Silver events. Following on from success last month in Yorkshire, the girls made the trip north again for the Lancashire event on Saturday 25th November where they converted their #2 seeding, despite the perishingly cold conditions!
Saturday 18th November saw several Team Leics juniors take advantage of the short trip over to compete in the U17 Nottingham Bronze.
As second seeds, Joe Goodenough – with honorary Leicestershire partner George Railton – made a solid start by winning their box with an easy 21-8 warm-up win before a much tougher fight from local Notts pair Gibson-Leitch & Thomas, with the seeds winning out 21-19.
Following an easy 21-10 win in the semi-final, Joe & George knew the final against the Yorkshire top seeded pair of John Lowe & Russell Yeng would be tough; nevertheless the boys fought for every point to come out on top 23-21 for the gold medal!
In the mixed doubles, both Leics pairs of Luke Hoult & Grace Sherwin and Tom Paterson-Watts & Tamsin Betts lived up to their respective #2 and #3 seedings by winning their boxes. While Tom & Tamsin were unable to overcome the Notts pair of Zack Scofield & Lucy Attewell for a bronze medal, Luke & Grace won their semi-final against Yorkshire’s Yeng & Walker for a place in the final.
In a very close match, Luke & Grace matched the Notts top seeds point for point but were not able to upset the local favourites who ran out 21-18 winners but a fantastic silver medal nonetheless!