University of Nottingham
Girls: Elsa Mitchell, Maria Mitchell, Abbie Pearce, Emma Yang
Boys: Rafi Cresdee, Oliver Fonseca, Brennan Hutchings, Omar Tariq and Dan Wykes.
All our players were new to this event, having a range of ages from 11 (Elsa) to 17, (Dan and Emma). As number 5/8 seeds, we first played round 1 in the group with Berkshire, Cornwall and Sussex.
Our players all arrived safely and we were accommodated in Sherwood Hall at the Nottingham University campus. Unfortunately, our coach Mark Peckham couldn’t join us due to illness. Thus, Kamran took on the role of Assistant Team Manager.
Our first match was against Cornwall and Hampshire had a flying start winning 10-0, with three rubbers, finishing 15-0 (Emma in singles and Abbie and Elsa in GD).
We had an early dinner and then returned on courts in the evening to play Berkshire. We were expecting a tougher match against Berkshire, and all players were up for it. Our team played incredibly well winning all matches, except the first mixed match, which still went to three games.
Second day started with a pre-breakfast, outdoor warm up in the beautiful grounds, led by our player’s captain, Dan. Our first match of the day was against Sussex, and was the last match in the group, which was going to decide which side of the draw we ended. Planning strategically the matches and trying to guess what the opposition was going to put forward, is never an easy task. We continued our strategy of players selection, which had already proved successful in the first day and we won 6-4.
Being placed in the top 12 teams, we now had to fight for a place in top 4, 5-8 or 9-12 places. The draw decided we are going to play Hertfordshire (3/4 seeds) and Essex.
Spending an hour to decide the best combination of strength and pairing to secure a win versus Essex, proved successful. Hampshire won again, 7-3 v Essex, which put us in a position to fight for top 4, having to play Hertfordshire next. A special mention to all our girls who won all their matches v Essex.
On Wednesday morning, we played Herts, after a long debate of how we should combine the teams, knowing that a player can only play either singles or mixed and doubles. We looked at who Hertfordshire played in previous matches and guessed they were going to do the same. However, it did not work out for us on this occasion. We managed to get our mixed doubles games and the second BD.
The other counties fighting for positions 5-8 position were Leicestershire, Kent and Yorkshire (number 1 seeds, who had to play in earlier stages Leinster, the eventual winners).
Just half an hour after playing Hertfordshire, we had to move into a different area and meet Leicestershire lively but incredibly disruptive and noisy orchestra. The noise that this team produced was incredibly challenging to all players and gave us a difficult task to focus and talk to each other. We had a slow start with both our mixed players losing the first two matches, but then we came back with wins in MS and GS. Fighting for every single point was very tough given the loud atmosphere. We had a number of game points, which sadly ended up going to the opposition. We just missed out, with the match finishing 4-6 to Leicestershire.
The last match of the day was against Kent. We knew that we needed to do our best to ensure the 6-7th position. Our team was exhausted, but full of determination and with a “can do” attitude, we fought for every single point and had an amazing finish, winning 7-3. It was boys turn to show their strength and win all their matches.
Wednesday was our toughest day, as we had to play three matches, with only 60 minutes in between the matches, including trying to grab a quick lunch. It was nice to see a familiar face (Tash), a Hampshire player who currently studies at the University of Nottingham and was working at the cafe.
Exhausted from a long day, we went for dinner and then played some fun games in the dorms with the team. #hideandseek
Thursday – last day of ICT: a very tough mission to play Yorkshire. The match started in our favour, with wins in one mixed and two boys singles, which put us in the lead 3-1. Before the doubles, we were 3-3. Yorkshire came back strongly and won all doubles matches and won the final match 7-3, which means Hampshire finished 7th in the ICT 2023.
This is a great result for Hampshire in current circumstances where some of our top Hampshire players and Head Coach could not attend.
Some of the greatest aspects of this week:
1. All players had a great time and had fun, enjoying their time on court and off court
2. Commitment of our players and determination – they all put 100% effort
3. Record – we had the youngest player of the tournament (Elsa) in our team, who not only played extremely well, not being fazed by the moment, the event or even the Leicestershire orchestra and also won the hearts of the audience.
4. Special mention to Emma Yang, who came first in the Hampshire players statistics ranking with 13 wins out of 16 matches. She was also a great supporter and cheer leader, bringing the team together and cheering for every team match she could and also mentoring the players whenever needed.
5. Special mention to Oliver – Socialising master and unofficial team Hampshire Chess champion
6. Rafi and Brennan – Singles specialists
7. Dream team – cutest Hampshire pair: Abbie and Elsa
8. Dan – most scored points by Hampshire players
9. Omar – highest jump and strongest smash
Thank you to all our supporters, parents, to CartridgeExpress: our sponsor for this tournament and to our players for offering us some unforgettable moments.
Cristina and Kamran