Enthusiasm isn’t an issue for youth

Cameron Yuill
Cameron Yuill

WIDESPREAD dissatisfaction with the format of their annual national championships failed to dampen the enthusiasm of the County 14U squads in west Middlesex and Oxford.

Northamptonshire boys and girls squads, coached by Steve Biss and James Haley, finished fifth and fourth of eight respectively.

Yet a system which removes incentive if a county loses on the first day, hence dropping into a ‘consolation’ style group, won few friends.

The boys were beaten 5-1 on the first day by Hertfordshire but then defeated Bedfordshire 6-0 and Cambridgeshire 5-1.

The girls, who played in the top group after a 5-1 opening success against Suffolk, were then beaten 4-2 by Bedfordshire and 2-0 by Essex in a contest cut short by poor weather.

For the boys, Joe Tyler bagged singles wins on all three days, including the scalp of a 5.1 player, while Cameron Yuill and Mattie Masters picked up two victories apiece and Sam Smith one. Henry Masters played a role in the doubles successes.

The girls travelled to Oxford with a squad of Kate Clayson, Lauren Phillips, Lucy Horbatowski, Jessica Buchanan, Leah Milligan and Sarah Kings.

After their opening day win, they trailed Bedfordshire 3-1 after the singles with a win by Horbatowski at No.3 to their credit.

Needing to win the doubles to stay in touch, Horbatowski/Milligan achieved this from a set down, taking it 12-10 in the tie-break decider – only for Phillips/Clayson to lose 7-5, 6-3.

Northants teams, at 10U, 11U and 12U, also contested the Lionel Cox Trophy at Queenswood School in Hertfordshire which involved eight competing counties in total.

The best individual efforts came from Long Buckby’s Max Graham in the 10U Boys as he won three of his four matches, playing at number three, while Alex Ballinger won two.

Fellow Dallington player Abigail Pearce notched a victory at No.1 in the 10U Girls while in the 11U Girls there were two wins for Imogen Allen (at number two) and one for Alex Lewis at the top of the order.

In the 12U Girls there were solitary successes for Millie Hughes at number one and Katie Hughes at number two.

Meanwhile, the progress of Dallington juniors Max Graham and Abigail Pearce has received LTA recognition with a national level assessment.

Both juniors will now receive ‘matrix funding’ from October this year to help with their training.