Girls’ U13A team
This weekend saw debuts for two out of the three players in the U13A team. Essex were hosting the tie at the Garrison in Colchester. The team consisted of Hannah Morley, Poppy Smee-Hotene and Olivia Broderick.
Their first match on Saturday morning was against a strong Surrey team and Olivia was up first playing her debut match. Nerves were apparent at the start but once her confidence grew she started to dominate the rallies. The games were close but she played mature squash at the right times and won the match 3-1.
In the next match Hannah Morley who is only just 11 stepped up the plate as number 1 string. Her opponent was a tricky player and fairly unorthodox. Hannah was technically the better player but couldn’t quite get the tactics right, she lost a close 3-0. Next on was Poppy, again making her debut for Essex. The Surrey player was clearly experienced and moved the ball around the court well. Poppy put together some good rallies but couldn’t quite deal with the accuracy of the Surrey player, 3-0 to Surrey.
After a short break we prepared ourselves for our toughest opponents, Suffolk. Olivia was beaming with confidence now following her win. She was playing young Emma Logan who is only 8 years old. Olivia’s power and strength was too much for the Suffolk player and she secured a quick 3-0 win.
Hannah’s task was tough, she was up against current U11 national champion Emma Bartley. Hannah didn’t seem to get into the match and let Emma dictate the play. Despite the 3-0 scoreline Hannah summed up what our county is about. 100% effort during every point, no tears or tantrums and gracious in defeat. My star of the day for her attitude and never say die spirit.
The last match of the tie was Poppy against the Suffolk no 2 Ella Hall. Ella is an excellent player and Poppy knew it would be a tough match. Poppy showed her improvement over past months and competed well in the rallies. Suffolk took the match 3-0 and the tie 2-1.
Our last tie was against Middlesex, a match we knew we had a chance to win. Olivia took to the court and dominated the rallies. Her athleticism and power reminds me of Alice Green 3 years ago, not a bad player to be compared to. Olivia won 3-0 and finished the day undefeated.
Hannah picked herself up excellently following her previous matches and played some excellent squash against the Middlesex number 1. Hannah took the first game displaying her wonderful spacial awareness and use of height on the court. She narrowly lost the next 3 games but showed great signs of her future potential. The tie was 1-1 with Poppy to play the deciding match. Poppy took to the challenge well and moved the ball around the court putting pressure on her opponent. Poppy convincingly won the match 3-0 and won the tie for Essex!
The girls finished 3rd in the group but I was delighted with their performances. They showed fantastic team spirit, their behaviour was impeccable and they gave 100% effort. Well done girls!

Combined Essex U-15 and U-13 teams

Girls U15
The U15 girls were also the hosts for the day, combined with the U13A team this made for a good atmosphere at the Garrison.
The Essex team consisted of Piper Tatum, Amy Aspinall, Elli Barrott, Hattie Callen and Aliza Sheikh. Their first match of the day was against Surrey, the biggest challenge for the team.
After the team talk Aliza and Elli took to the courts. Aliza took a while to get into her stride but then started to use her lovely touch at the front of the court. The rallies were close but Aliza always looked in control. She came through the match with a 3-2 win, a good start for Essex.
Elli was on the court next door and displayed some mature squash. Elli dug deep and fought for every point. Her opponent was tricky and quick around court, Elli put together some good squash and the 3-0 match score didn’t reflect the rallies. Hattie, playing at string 4, was next on. The first game was back and forth, Hattie showing good athleticism and technical ability.
She narrowly lost the game 12-10 and then lost her confidence in the following two games. A bit more experience and those matches will go in her favour. Next door Piper was having a wonderful battle with the Surrey number 1 Brienna Burki. Calm and collected Piper certainly got her opponent worried and uptight. Piper dominated the T and retrieved the ball excellently.
Piper was unlucky to lose the match 3-2 but showed good progress and the perfect attitude. Finally Amy ‘birthday girl’ Aspinall played in the 2nd string tie. Captain Amy seemed slightly nervous and didn’t get going in the first game. She then started to enforce her game on her opponent. The rallies were close and Amy was unlucky to clip the tin a few times. On another day those shots will come off and the result will be different. Despite losing 3-0 to a tough opponent, Amy had a good attitude and fighting spirit. 
Surrey beat Sussex to top the group. This left Essex to play Sussex for 2nd/3rd place. Aliza got Essex off to a flying start with a convincing 3-0 win. On the court straight afterwards Hattie also took charge and made her opponent run every inch of the court, another 3-0. Elli Barrott was having an epic encounter on court 3.
Both girls were similar in standard and therefore we were treated to some highly charged rallies. Elli won the first game in convincing fashion but her opponent upped her game. The crowd were treated to some great squash and sportsmanship. Elli never gave up the fight but in the end lost 3-1.
Piper had the chance to win her match and secure 2nd place for Essex. She wasn’t messing around and the intensity of the rallies was too much for her opponent. Piper kept the pace high and volleyed the ball where possible, her opponent buckled to Piper’s constant pressure. A 3-0 victory and Essex had guaranteed 2nd place.
All that was left was for the birthday girl to put the icing on the cake (apologies for the terrible joke). Amy cruised through the first two games showing a good range of shots and variation. She started thinking about her birthday celebrations too early and switched off in the last game. She managed to bring it back at the end of the game and sealed the 3-0 win. 
Another excellent display of top quality squash, team spirit, sportsmanship and positive attitudes from the girls. Already looking forward to the next stage, well done team!
It was also a lovely surprise to see India and Kim Webb who came along to support the girls. India hasn’t been well over the past few months and she has been sorely missed. We wish her all the best with her recovery and hope to see her running around a squash court soon.
***Great day squashing and we finished with Amy and her fabulous cake made by Pauline McGrath (apart from candles everything on this cake is edible!). Thank you also to Lauren Selby and Karen Selby for getting a cake for Amy too! X

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