Winter County Cup - Ladies
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The Isle of Man Women's Tennis Team recently travelled to Northampton to compete in the annual Winter County Cup. Find out how they got on.
Due to the pandemic, this was the first time the team have been able to compete since 2019, so everyone was delighted to be able to play at county level again. The competition sees the team of six, face three other counties over three days, with each player playing one singles and one doubles match each day.
On Day One, it was the age-old battle of the Islands as the Isle of Man took on the Channel Islands. Fifteen-year-old, Sarah Long got the team off to a positive start by winning her first senior county singles match in straight sets 6-1 6-0. Meanwhile, Elena Snidal fought hard to come back and take a tight first set in the tie-break (10-8), but her opponent raised her game, and Snidal eventually lost in three sets. Continuing with the singles, 16-year-old, Charlotte Clarke was narrowly beaten by an experienced Channel Island's competitor, Jo Dyer, 6-4 3-6 4-6, and newcomer to the team, Marissa Stevenson, was defeated in a gruelling encounter 7-5 5-7 6-1.
The doubles saw E. Snidal team up with sister Hannah to defeat the Channel Island’s No.3 pair comfortably. Whilst reigning Island Champions, Karen Faragher and Long paired up again at No.2 to eventually clinch an exciting match up 10-7 in the third set match-tie break. After their punishing singles matches, the Island’s No.1 pair, Clarke and Stevenson, had to face the same players as a doubles pair. Despite another closely fought first set, momentum was with the Channel Islands, who went on to take the win. Despite a tremendous effort from all players, the final score was Isle of Man 3, Channel Islands 6.
Day Two saw the Isle of Man face Suffolk. This time, Long lost the first set of her match 1-6 but bounced back in the second set, taking it 6-2. However, despite some strong hitting, Long could not close out the final set on this occasion. Both Clarke and Stevenson narrowly lost the opening sets of their singles 5-7. However, following the previous day’s disappointment, both were determined not to be defeated again and fought back hard in the remaining two sets to win their matches. Clarke 5-7 6-4 6-0 and Stevenson 5-7 6-1 6-2.
Following their emphatic comebacks, the pair teamed up again for the doubles and, still on a high, played some inspiring tennis to take the win 6-3 6-1. With no further wins forthcoming, the final score, again, was: Isle of Man 3, Suffolk 6. On the final day the Isle of Man faced the home side, Northamptonshire. After a demanding couple of days of tennis, tiredness and injury were beginning to get the better of the majority of the six-player team. However, having no subs, there was no choice but to grin and bear it. After losing the first set 1-6, H. Snidal dug deep in her singles and chased down every ball to put her counterpart under pressure. This forced her opponent to make errors and turned the match around; Snidal taking the victory 1-6 6-2 6-3.
Faragher also had her tightest singles of the weekend, managing to outmanoeuvre her opponent to take the first set 6-4. However, despite two more tight sets, the Suffolk player eventually managed to find a way past Faragher 4-6 7-5 6-4. For Stevenson and Clarke, it wasn’t their day, the previous two days' matches having taken a toll. Unfortunately, after having to forfeit two of the remaining matches in order to catch the flight home, the final score was Isle of Man 1, Northamptonshire 8.
Despite not winning any ties overall, there were many positives to take away from the weekend, especially in terms of promising junior talent, which alongside experienced players, lays the foundation for future success.