Report by Maria Bainbridge
After hearing from our opponents the night before we knew we’d be going into the weekend with an advantage. Middlesex could only field 4 players, perfect not just for the county but also particularly for our number 5 who could enjoy a bottle rather than a mere glass of wine on Friday night.
We went into the first match 1 up and Sarah was up first, playing quite possibly the fittest middle aged woman Nottingham has ever seen. After going 2 games down Sarah went into the 3rd with a renewed determination. A dispute with the marker around the mid point mark robbed Sarah of a crucial point which would have made all the difference in a game that ended 12-10 to her opponent. Safe to say now drawing with Middlesex 1-1 it wasn’t just them that were our adversaries for they were being aided by Mike, the man responsible for quite possibly one of the worst decisions squash has ever seen.
Kim was on next, her opponent easily recognisable by the large bandanna she was fashioning in the historic colours of Middlesex county, an effort perhaps to prove her Middlesexian credentials amid claims of her being a Spanish import brought in to improve their chances for the Inter County Weekend. The match was incredibly tight with the match going to a nail biting 5th game but unfortunately the temperature on court rather like that of Madrid in high summer meant her opponent was equipped in a way Kim was not. Unfortunately this proved fatal and Kim lost the final game.
Score now 2-1 Middlesex.
Hannah was up next. After demolishing her opponent in the first game things looked abit rocky for game two with Hannah heavily on the back foot. With 1-1’s each an inspiring team chat from the captain was all it took and Hannah went on to assert her dominance in games 3 and 4.
With the scores Northumbria 2 Middlesex 2 Josie was to be playing in the decider, this coupled with the fact this was her senior county debut meant pressure was on. Instead of being crippled with anxiety Josie proved to be unfazed. After winning the first game smoothly she felt confident enough to step back for two games to add drama and tension to the occasion. At 2-1 down it was up to the captain again to impart some wisdom and it worked a treat with Josie coming back from 8-3 down in the fourth to win the game. As it turned out the last point Josie would loose would be midway through that fourth game. The fifth was short and sweet with Josie clinically demolishing her opponent dishing up an ice cold bagel.
Northumbria 3, Middlesex 2.
The second game began after a lengthy lunch break meaning tensions were running high.
Sarah again was on first up against another tricky opponent. While going 2-0 down in a similar fashion to her first match she managed to clench the third game, demonstrating what a difference it makes when a competent marker is at the helm. Despite Mikes absence however Sarah’s opponent proved too strong and the match ended in a close 3-1.
Kim was up next. Unfortunately her opponent proved too strong. Kim looked defunct of energy if she’d listened to her captain at lunch and got a white chocolate and macademia cookie to accompany her turkey flat bread the game could have turned out very differently.
Hannah followed Kim. Little did she know at the onset that she would be on court for over an hour. In that time I would have the chance to watch half of it, play my match (win 3-1) and then catch the end of the final game. Safe to say it was the match of the weekend with Hannah winning 3-2 ending in a massive 17-15 in the fifth.
Josie would be on last again and pressure was on again, the match score was 2-2. This time however her opponent, a semi-pro, proved too strong.
Cheshire 3 Northumbria 2.
We rocked up to the club on Sunday well rested full of our weatherspoons traditional breakfast and dreams of 3rd fresh in our minds. Sarah kept the dream alive for a while, playing much better squash then she delivered yesterday. High on her bowling victory yesterday, where despite demanding the rails be kept up she turned out to be far more skilled then she’d had us believe. This victory was not enough however and she just lost out in an incredibly close 3-2 with the match ending 15-13 in the fifth.
Maria lost again. It was to be expected however as two wins would have been far too much for her in one weekend.
Kim lost 3-2 to a world 47 seed who proved just too strong in the final game. Kim left the court chuffed however after playing ‘the shot of my career’, a winner played from behind her back which went exactly where it was intended, straight into a nick.
Josie was up next, floating on air at the prospect of a pressure-less match. Her seasoned (old) opponent proved too strong however and despite looking like she was gonna come back after seizing the 3rd, the pensioner stepped up her game and won 3-1 in a close final game.
Hannah again played excellently but her opponent also proved too strong and the games were close but the end score was 3-0.
In the end we finished in a fantastic fourth place, a great achievement with 3 of our best players missing. Another great inter county weekend.
For a round-up of all the results from the weekend: UK Inter-County Finals