Team: Yorkshire U.18 Boys
Competition & Venue: U.18 County Cup Division 1, Bath
Dates: Friday 1st- Sunday 3rd March 2019
Captain: Jason Torpey and Pete Ashley
Team Members: Matt Clegg, Johannus Monday, Finn Murgett, Euan Wilson- Baig, Tom Smart, Barney Fitzpatrick, Joseph Fletcher, Adam Hillerby
Friday 1st March v Surrey
Yorkshire had the strongest squad available as they tried to take home the National title and it looked as though the match against Surrey was going to be the crucial one of the weekend. Having strength in depth has always been one of Yorkshire’s big strengths and so it proved in this match as Barney (6), Tom (5) and Euan (4) comfortably put Yorkshire 3-0 up. Finn lost out to a strong number 3 from Surrey to make it 3-1 so it was crucial to try and get at least 1 of the top 2 singles matches to put us 4-2 up going into the doubles. Both Johannus (2) and Matt (1) had really tough matches and after 2.5 hours both matches were locked at 1 set all and 4-4 in the 3rd set. It really was going to come down to who could hold their nerve and keep believing in themselves to get the win, if Surrey won both it would be 3-3 in matches with the momentum very much with them but if both Matt and Johannus could find a way the tie would be over at 5-1. Thankfully for us, both boys produced some of the best quality tennis I’ve seen at County Cup to come through 6-4 in the 3rd for Johannus and an even tighter win 7-6 in the 3rd for Matt over 2017 GB National Champion Brandon Murphy.
The boys were obviously jubilant to have secured the win after the singles but knowing how important rubbers can be in this format, and wanting to make a statement to the other teams the boys went onto court and won all 3 doubles; Tom and Euan winning comfortably at 3rd pair; Barney and Joe Fletch (who came in to give Johannus a rest) winning at 2nd pair and Matt and Finn winning at top pair again in a 3rd set tiebreak for Yorkshire to win overall 8-1.
Saturday 2nd March v Lancashire
A War of the Roses match to most probably decide who would be National Champions (Lancs had won 5-4 on the opening day) so it was important to not get complacent after such a good win against Surrey. Lancashire were stronger lower down the order too and so it proved as Barney lost at 6 and despite having match points in the 2nd set Tom found himself embroiled in a 3 set battle while Euan got off to a slow start and was a set down at number 4. This could easily have gone 3-0 to Lancashire, and possibly would have done in previous years but our boys are made of sterner stuff now and both Tom and Euan came back to win in 3 sets to make it 2-1 to Yorkshire. Finn came out strong and won quickly at 3 and while Johannus was again involved in a dog fight Matt won at 1 to make it 4-1 Yorkshire with Johannus on court again at 4-4 in the 3rd set. Yet again he came up with the goods breaking serve to win the match 6-4 and giving Yorkshire an unassailable 5-1 lead.
Having spent more than 5 hours on court in 2 singles matches, and knowing we were losing Finn for the last day I decided to rest Johannus for the doubles and bring in Adam to partner Barney at 2nd pair so that every member of the squad had some match time. Winning has started to become a habit for this group and again the boys all displayed very professional performances to win all 3 doubles (Tom and Euan at 3, Barney and Adam at 2 and Matt and Finn at 1) to make the final score 8-1 to Yorkshire.
Sunday 3rd March v Hertfordshire
Such was the dominance of the first 2 days, and the importance of getting rubbers on the board, it meant that Yorkshire only needed 2 rubbers to be crowned Champions. However with Finn going off to play an ITF it meant that Euan, Tom and Barney moved up a spot and I decided to play Adam at number 6. Both Barney and Adam played faultless tennis to get the 2 rubbers Yorkshire needed inside an hour but everybody wanted to make sure we won every match if possible and with Hertfordshire heads dropping Tom, Euan and Johannus won comfortably at 4, 3 and 2 respectively before Matt beat the current National Champion Daniel Martin 6-4 in the 3rd to make it a clean sweep of the singles. There was still time for Euan and Tom to both finish with 6 wins out of 6 by winning their doubles 6-2 6-2 before the group was decided- Lancashire beating Surrey to finish as runners up- so there was no need to play the final two matches, Yorkshire winning 7-0 and being crowned U.18 National Champions for only the 3rd time in the history of Junior County Cup.
It was an incredible weekend and one that may looked comfortable on paper but when needed the boys dug in- we won all 7 of the 3 setters we played- and this team has now won 51 out of the last 61 matches they’ve played! With only Matt and Euan moving out of the age group it looks very good for the team to try and defend their title in 2020!
Players of the weekend: All 8 of them!! (but a special mention to both Matt and Johannus who played 5 three setters during the weekend winning all of them!)