The Norfolk U14 boys team arrived in Oxford on Friday afternoon to practice and prepare for the weekend of competition with a strong desire to win the event. Our squad was Fred Withers, Scott Whiting, Joe Henden, Louie Parker and Regan Bessey, captained by Chris Evans.
Our group comprised of Leicestershire and Nottingham, both were strong counties so we had our work cut out. On the first day we played Leicestershire, on paper were the number 2 seeds for the event, the team raised their game to clinch a victory in a nail biting deciding tie break after the match was 3 – 3. Some strong performances in the singles from Fred and Scott with Joe losing in a close battle left the match 2-2 after the singles. The team had spent 6 months working on their doubles so we were confident but Leicestershire were strong and took the first doubles against Fred and Joe, this left Scott and Regan to grind out a 3 set victory setting up the shootout.
Fred and Scott paired up for the match tie break to 10, the boys got off to a great start and quickly went 6 – 2 ahead, however the match turned as Scott split his hand open and had blood flowing everywhere! The team somewhat distracted then went 7 – 6 down. But some tremendous character and some truly stunning tennis, especially at 9 – 8 up and match point with Scott hitting the hardest ball of the weekend through the net player off the serve to win 10-8!
The team was buzzing! It had been a long time since this team had won the first day and were in contention.
The second day was against Nottingham and the quality continued with some devastating performances with Fred, Scott and Joe winning their singles only dropping 1 game between them! Nottingham were destroyed and the team won 5-1 to set up a final against Kent for a place in the National finals.
The Kent team had nominated 7 players for the event but their number one player had not been seen all weekend and we found out that he was playing in Slovakia in a Tennis Europe event of which he reached the final on the Sunday so we didn’t expect to see him at all. However the Kent captain realised the match would be close without him and they flew him in for the match, arriving at 8am in the morning at the venue. This made all the difference and added another level of quality to their team pushing everyone else down the order. Both Fred and Scott battled hard and almost pushed for a third set but unfortunately we lost all singles matches resulting in defeat. Kent deserved the win and had the stronger team on the day.
A fantastic effort from our u14 boys and given the situation done as well as could be expected.
Coach Chris Evans was incredibly proud of their efforts: “I was delighted the practice they had put in paid off, we were simply not good enough in the final against a strong Kent team and we wish them well for the National Finals, no doubt they will have a good chance.”