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U/18 County Cup Captains Report – March 2022



The IOMLTA 18 & U girls County cup team travelled to the Tarka tennis centre in Barnstable, North Devon to compete in the LTA Inter County Cup Championships.

Taking the early morning boat to Heysham and driving down to the venue, some of the cars and passengers travelled for over 15 hours as we had to pick up players on route from Bristol airport and Millfield school.

The team consisted of Sarah Long, Ava Austerberry, Charlotte Clarke, Aailish Kelly and Caitlin Henery. Unfortunately, we were a player short which meant on each day we started 2-0 down (having to concede a singles and a doubles match).

However, pre-match training had gone well and the team were positive and upbeat that they could do well.

After such a long journey the team were up early and keen to get on court for the pre-match warm up with coaches Ian Watson and Sean Drewry.

Day one

We were drawn to compete against the local Devon Team.

Charlotte who is training full time in Tenerife and is in great form made light work of her opponent and won the match comfortably 6-1,6-1 against Sophie Ryland.

Aailish made a tentative start and couldn’t quite get her game to flow consistently and lost her opening match 1-6, 1,6 against Maya Ichim.

Caitlin made a cautious start but then had a great battle in the 2nd set but couldn’t clinch the set losing 0-6, 4-6 against Victoria Syms

Ava was next on court and made a nervy start in the 1st set losing 3-6 but she bounced right back and took the second set 6-3 and had the momentum on her side. At the end of the 2nd set Ava’s opponent took a toilet break and this completely threw Ava’s concentration and she ended up losing the set 0-6 against Jessica Johnston.

Sarah playing at number 1 was last to go on and she had a terrific battle with her opponent.

Sarah is training at Millfield school and is playing regular competition in the UK and this is paying big dividends for her tennis. Sarah won a close 1st set 7-5 but then lost momentum slightly in the 2nd set 2-6. It went to a third set and Sarah called on her recent experience to win a close third set 7-5 against Margaux Slade.

The singles was followed by 2 doubles matches with the pairings of Charlotte with Sarah and Ava with Aailish. Ava and Aailish were not quite strong enough against their opponents and lost in straight sets 6-1,6-2. However, Charlotte and Sarah had a terrific 3 set match and won 10-7 in the third set tie-break.

Overall, the team lost 6-3 to the eventual winners but I was pleased with the team spirit and overall play of the girls.

Day 2

On the second day we were drawn against Oxfordshire.

Once again Charlotte started first and again she had too much power and experience for her opponent and won very comfortably 6-0, 6-0 against Hannah Denly.

Caitlin had another wonderful tactical and physical battle with her opponent which lasted nearly 3 hours. Unfortunately, she just lost out 5-7, 7-5, 4-6 against Susanna wright.

Aailish lost out to a more powerful player but she couldn’t quite get her game to be consistent enough and her opponent didn’t miss much so she ended up losing 6-0, 6-0 to Darcey Trotman.

Ava disappointed with how her match concluded the day before made up for it today by playing some excellent tennis and kept her concentration to win 6-3, 6-3 against Darcy Herring Johnson.

Sarah was on last again but this time she made short work of her opponent this time by winning in an impressive 6-3, 6-2.

The doubles pairings today were Charlotte and Ava who won comfortably, and Sarah and Caitlin who unfortunately couldn’t quite win the match but played some great tactical positions with the Australian and ‘I” formation to great effect and were very entertaining to watch.

On the day we won 4 of the 7 matches. However, because we started 2-0 down we lost 5-4 on the day.

Day 3

On the 3rd day we were drawn against South of Scotland.

Charlotte started the day winning 6-0, 6-0 in impressive style and giving no quarter to her opponent Natasha Morrison in super quick time.

Aailish found her form and played well to beat her opponent Abby Taylor in convincing style 6-3, 6-0.

Caitlin decided to have another (but slightly shorter) battle, but happily she won in straight sets 7-5, 6-3 against Kathleen Anderson.

Ava played her best match of the event and won 6-0,6-0 with a much more disciplined approach to her match against Lucy Nesbit.

Sarah also won in convincing style 6-4, 6-1 to round off a full house of singles wins.

In the doubles Charlotte and Sarah teamed up to win their doubles in straight sets and so did Ava and Aailish to finish the day with a 7-0 (7-2 with conceded matches) win.

It was great last day performance and for Sean and I it was a very positive end to a very positive event. It was nice to be part of such a positive team that expected to do well.

I think Sean has learnt a lot from the experience and will benefit from it for future events.
It was also great for me to finish my county cup trips for the IOM with a great experience.

Captain – Ian Watson

On another note: the placings for our teams around the UK competition venues were very difficult for the organiser (me) and the players and parents.
Not only were the venues a great distance from the Isle of Man but the travel links were only accessible by boat and car due to the location in proximity to airports and plane flying times from the IOM.