PASSION, PRIDE AND TEARS AS ESSEX U-17 GIRLS GO SO CLOSE

REPORT BY CHRIS CHITTY

The Essex girls’ under 17 team comprising of Elise Lazarus, Alice Green, Ellie Hewes, Paige McCoy and Eleanor White travelled to Nottingham for the finals of the national inter county competition. With great determination and desire to win, the girls played Sussex on Saturday in the semi final.

Essex played confidently and managed to secure a very emotional 3-2 win over Sussex with some fantastic crowd support that nearly raised the roof. At 2-2 in matches however, it was down to Alice “the machine” Green to finish the job and boy did she pull out all the stops to do it.

Alice lost her first 2 games to Sussex’s Amy Jones, albeit one being a tiebreak game. It was a very tense time for the team. However, Alice went back on court for game 3 with nothing short of gritted teeth knowing she had an uphill task ahead, and if anyone could do it, it would be Alice.

She won the next 2 games 11-9 and 11-5 leaving a fifth game to decide the winner. After a rousing talk from coach Chris to continue with her great efforts, Alice went back on with huge pressure to win. And every point she won the Essex crowd simply cheered louder and louder, so much so the referee had to wait a while for quiet before he could announce the score.

Alice took the fifth game 11-5 and when she came off court there was a huge cheer and she and I just hugged each other with some tears in our eyes. Such an emotional match for everyone involved, parents, players and coaches.

The final on Sunday was going to be a re-run of the final last year up against the ever strong Yorkshire under 17 girls. Essex were champing at the bit to get on with the job in hand. Elise went on first and won her match convincingly 3-0 giving Essex a great start and putting her loss behind her from the day before.

Ellie and Eleanor were up next, Ellie played well but was beaten 3-0 by Poppie Jaram who played solid squash throughout and proved too strong for Ellie. Eleanor had a tough match against Emma Campion and never gave up with every rally she played and managed to get to 2-2 .

The crowd noise yet again was loud and encouraging and every point in the fifth game that was played, the Essex spectators made sure everyone knew when Eleanor won a point. She played so well but unfortunately couldn’t overcome Emma in the fifth and lost 11-7. Her disappointment showed.

Paige now had huge pressure to win her match or all would be lost to win the title. However, Paige didn’t really get into the match due to Charlotte Jagger playing good length squash and Paige simply not getting to grips with the power she had. Paige lost her match 3/0 and she too was visibly upset with her result.

This ended the dream of winning the national title as we only had Alice left to play the final match and we were 3/1 down in matches. Alice played her match with a different demeanour as she knew that whatever she did was not going to change the final result. However she went on court with Gabriella Mawson and beat her 3/0, 11-9 11-5 11- and restored some respect to the final match score of 3-2.

The girls can be proud of themselves for achieving another place in the national final finishing runners up nationally with a very young under 17 team, they played fairly, honestly and most importantly with pride and respect. I could not have asked for more. Next year we are hoping for third time lucky. I would like to thank all the parents and all the Essex players for supporting me wholeheartedly throughout the weekend. Great job.