LEE HORTON reporting
ESSEX squash is celebrating its finest set of Inter-Counties results in years after three of our teams marched into the National Finals and another two (possibly three) teams making the Trophy Finals.
The performances had county-coach Lauren Selby brimming with pride and full of praise. “I can’t tell you how proud we are of all our teams,” she said. “We’ll be heading for the finals full of confidence and desire. We’ve made huge strides at all age groups over the past year and last weekend is a strong barometer that we are heading along the right path. We have not reached our potential yet, but we are on track.”
The girls kicked off the weekend’s action and news quickly emerged of a tremendous display by our Under-17 squash who were in action in Warwickshire. Under the guidance of coach Lauren, the team of Alice Green, Elise Lazarus, Ellie Hewes and Eleanor White (pictured above) had the cards stacked against them as they went into action a player short. Paige McCoy (injured), Georgia Smith (unavailable at such late notice) and India Webb (unwell) left the team depleted but unbowed.
Ellie Hewes has written a full report of the matches, which you can find and the foot of this round up, but as a brief resume, Essex sealed their place in next January’s National Finals (probably at Pontefract) beating both Northumbria and Warwickshire 3-2. Their only loss was to the powerful Yorkshire team 3-2. A magnificent performance considering we had to start every rubber 1-0 down due to the missing player.
Our Under-13 B and Under-15 girls both reached the Trophy Finals with victories on Saturday. Brooke Smith, Mikayla Mann and Alice Lindsay teamed up to inflict 2-1 wins on all three of their U-13 opponents, SE Wales, Worcestershire and Oxfordshire. A tremendous display by our youngest group who promise to be real talents in the future.
Thanks to Joanne Mann, there is a more comprehensive report of our Under-13 B performance at the foot of this article.
The Essex U-15 team of Piper Rose Tatum, Amy Aspinall, Elli Barrott, Hattie Callen and Aliza Sheikh put a huge smile on the face of coach Chris Chitty as they destroyed the opposition in their quest for a place in the Trophy Finals.
The girls were in devastating form and trounced both Devon and Surrey 5-0 apiece. And to complete the rout, they served up another 5-0 drubbing in their final match. This time Sussex were the victims.
Essex are in with a shout of another girls’ team making the Trophy Finals. Our Under-13 A team of Hannah Morley, Poppy Smee-Hotene and Olivia Broderick have to wait to hear whether their second place finish on Saturday is good enough to give them the best runners’-up spot. Coach Paul Selby was full of praise for the girls who beat both Surrey seconds and Middlesex 3-0 with their only defeat coming at the hands of Kent, 2-1.
With the girls setting the standard on Saturday, the boys got their chance to shine the following day and soon social media was buzzing with news of more success. Under-17’s coach Dave Webster was first to print as he posted news of two excellent 5-0 victories over Bucks and Northants.
Aaron Allpress, Joe Blackmur, Conor Adams, Ben Richardson and Clayton Hunt were clearly in fine form so when an excited Mr Webster was on with news of a 4-1 win over Nottingham, his joy was understandable. “Thrilled, thrilled, thrilled,” was Dave’s first reaction. Followed by: “Finals here we come.”
And the winning formula was repeated by our Under-13 team of Ollie Green, Joel Braddock, Michael Tallentire, Harry Martin, Zaid Mushtaq and Ryan McCoy led to victory and a place in the National Finals by Lexden coach Paul Allen.
If victory wasn’t enough, the added spice of a drop of revenge made success taste event sweeter for the team. Having recorded 5-0 wins against Sussex and Middlesex they came up against Surrey, the team who beaten us 4-1 in the competition’s first round. Fortunately, two teams qualified for this stage so the scene was set for a high-octane encounter. Surrey fielded an unchanged team with Tymour Saba at 1, Tim Lloyd 2, Ethan Chak at 3, Anoop Nithiyanandan 4 and Chris Chak at 5. Last time we only managed a win at 1, with Joel, Mikey, Harry and Zaid losing out.
Essex made one change – Zaid had played two tough matches already so Ryan McCoy was brought in to give us fresh legs at 5. Not only did he bring it home but so did Harry and Joel, reversing their previous results against the same opponents. What a win…and what revenge.
The Essex U-15 and Under-19 teams both finished third in their matches. Charlie Martin, Harry Kitchens, Tim Bacon, Josh Stinson and Travis Tatum bagged a win 3-2 against Bucks U-15’s but found the company tough when they went up against Sussex and Kent.
Similar tale for the Under-19 squad. (Details to follow).
But in summary, a terrific set of results for our players and coaches who have been working tirelessly to reach this level of success. As the Twitter hashtags say: #Go-ESSEX.
*Read Ellie’s comprehensive report of the U-17’s below our picture gallery.
ELLIE HEWES REPORTS ON OUR UNDER-17 VICTORY
On Saturday, the Essex U17 team cruised their to the finals in Pontefract. The team included: Redbridge’s Elise LazArus, Billericay’s Alice Green, Colchester’s Ellie Hewes and Chelmsford’s Eleanor White. Due to injury and being unable to play, Colchester’s Georgia Smith and Connaught’s Paige McCoy but they will be there for the finals. The girls were joined with coach and Off The Wall Squash Academies director, Lauren Selby. After a quick team talk, they were ready to compete with their first opponents, Warwickshire.
They had played Warwickshire in the first round and were not willing to take it at all easy. First up, was third string, Ellie Hewes. She had to play a girl who she had played in the previous round called Lucy Green and had lost to. Ellie tried to get back her amazing lob serve and then finally got into the rally, but it wasn’t enough. This time, Ellie lost but it was much closer than before, with the score being 11-8,11-4,12-10. Essex were 2-0 down in matches and the five string was also a walkover.
Next up was fourth string, Eleanor White. Eleanor had an opponent called Amy Rogers. Eleanor played got powerful shots and placed the ball into the back corner very well, securing the match 3-0,11-8,11-9,11-5. The score was now 2-1 in matches. Next door was Elise LazAras. Elise was playing at the number 1 string and was playing Olivia Gow. Elise showed her touch and gracefully won her match with an elegant 3-0 victory. It was now tied at 2-2 in matches. Next on was Alice Green. Alice had to play Rosie Kirsch. Rosie had some good rallies throughout the game but couldn’t beat Alice. Alice placed the ball and made her work so hard. Alice secured the win 3-0, 11-5,11-4,11-6. This now meant that Essex had beaten Warwickshire 3-2! Up next after 10 minutes were Yorkshire.
After a 10 minute break, we were ready to face Yorkshire, we knew would be the hardest county to play. Ellie was up first against a their three string, Poppie Jaram. Ellie was trying her best to run and keep in the rally going back and forth, but Poppie’s drives were very powerful and her drops were dying all of the time. Ellie couldn’t secure it and lost 3-0,11-4,11-3,11-4.
Essex were 2-0 down again. Next up was Eleanor White, who had to play Emma Campion. Emma dropped with her beautiful touch and her technique and Eleanor’s drives were not quite good enough and lost 3-0, 11-3,11-4,11-5. Essex were now 3-0 down but it is the top two that go through, so we still had a great chance. Elise was next door and she sure was working her magic, looking like a ballerina on court. She was playing Ellen Cooper from Yorkshire. Elise played amazing and considering that Ellen came 4th in the Nationals, she should of had a closer match. She moved Ellen around, not allowing her to even really get into the game. The score was 3-0, 11-7,11-7,11-6.
Essex were 3-1 down now. Alice was on the next door court, against Gabrielle Mawson. Alice got through the match comfortably and ran for balls that you wouldn’t even think that it was possible to pick up. She placed the volleys powerful everywhere and won 3-0, 11-6,11-7,11-8. Essex lost 3-2 but we could still have a place in the finals! We had Northumbria after lunch which was a yummy plateful of Jacket potato, mince, tuna and of course, salad!
Making sure that we didn’t get a stitch, we went on court and played Northumbria. Ellie was up first against Emma Rowell. Ellie became 2-0 up with accurate drives being placed down the side wall but then couldn’t retain that lead, as she then lost the next three games as the girl kept reading her drives and running onto it. The final score was 3-2, 8-11,6-11,11-7,11-7,11-7.
Essex were now 2-0 down in matches. Next door was Eleanor White. She was playing Daisy Dobson. Eleanor had a tough match and Eleanor placed the ball into the corners and then dropped it. This didn’t always work though, as sometimes the other girl would get the T control and then it would turn the score upside down. Eleanor eased off in the last game, to secure the match 3-2, 11-7,8-11,11-6,8-11,11-7.
The score was now 2-1 to Northumbria. Elise was next on against Josie Barker. Josie ran and tried to do everything she could to beat Elise, but it didn’t work as Elise just vollied everything and hit dying length and drop shots throughout the match. Elise won the match 3-0, 11-5,11-5,11-6. Essex were now drawing at 2-2! Next door was Alice Green and determined to push the Essex girls through to win! She had to play Amy Rowell. Alice dropped the ball well and made her opponent run an there were some long rallies being shown. Alice’s all round game was too good though and snatched the game to win 3-0, 11-5,11-5,11-5. Essex now won 3-2 and were second! They were now through to the final! HORRAY!
Special thanks goes to Lauren for supporting the team throughout and coaching them! Without her, we wouldn’t have done as well as we did. Also we would like to thank the parents for taking their children to play and without them, we wouldn’t have an Essex team because we would have nobody to drive us. Thank you to the squash club in Warwickshire and Lucy Green’s mum for organising the event for us to take part in. Thank you to them for giving us the lunch and letting us use their squash courts.
JOANNE MANN REPORTS ON OUR UNDER-13 B TEAM’S SUCCESS
Firstly, Steve and I were somewhat nervous but honoured to be asked to look after the girls, due to the success of Essex squash in the first round we were lacking team managers/coaches. The girls did us proud. They all respected us, listened and performed.
On arrival, all kitted out in our new shirts, the Oxfordshire coach invited all the girls on court together for a group warm up and some long drives, this definitely was a nice way start to the day and seemed to put all the girls at ease.
We knew SE Wales were a threat and Alice Lyndsey was first to face them but she just couldn’t get control of the game losing 3-0. We were nervous for Brooke Smith. Playing string 1 seems to add pressure but we had nothing to fear as Brooke seemed comfortable in a 3-0 win. Mikayla Mann took to the court, she also went on to win 3-0. This win gave us a glimmer of hope but it was still too early to relax.
The girls chilled out over lunch with some technology time and good food, then it was back to the court to play Worcestershire, again an unknown County to our team. Alice had to be reminded the trick shot serves, whilst good, were best left out but stormed it winning 3-0.
Brooke put up an amazing game against their string 1, pulling a game back in the third from being 10-7 down, not giving up and taking the game, must have been that plate of sausages! It gave us great hope but her opponent came back on court fighting and Brooke lost 3-1, but that 1 could make the difference so we felt triumphant.
Pressure on Mikayla to win and keep our dream alive. Yes a 3-0 win. This girl was on form today. Going into the last match of the day we were in the lead, but needed a to secure victory. We had played Oxfordshire in the last round so we were hopeful we could do it.
Alice got the job done, nice and simple 3-0. Brooke faced a tough match against Jasmine Tranter, bless her heart losing 3-0 and that dreaded bagel is not a result anyone wants but she’s a girl that never gives up. She kept smiling and high fives with her stand in coach and team mates kept spirits high. No pressure then Mikayla, we need you to win. Not sure if she realised what was at stake but she did it 3-0, an amazing day for her not dropping any games.
What a proud pair we were. It was a great feeling to report our girls’ success back to Lauren and Chris. Steve and I had not only had a great day with the other parents, all the girls were a credit to their counties, their match play, honesty and behaviour was impeccable and creditable. How exciting as we head back to Essex after securing our place in the trophy finals.
What a dream team.