Our Men’s and Women’s county teams were both at the Senior Intercounty Championship in Nottingham on the weekend of 9th/10th April. The men’s team were up against some tough competition in the Premier Division, while our women’s team battled it out in Division 1 hoping to reach a top 2 spot for promotion to the Premier!
Our men’s team had a strong squad of players, with premier winning duo Cai and Alex from Northern, current county champion Michael Mattimore, Dave and Liam who have (just) 15 county titles between them and also Chris Wiggins fresh from an unbeaten season in the premier!
The 1st match was a tough one, up against Sussex who boasted former top 60 in the world Oliver Pett, current WR top 400 Noah Meredith along with some highly-rated former England juniors. With Chris sitting out this 1st match, Michael faced Oliver Pett at 1 and put up a valiant display in a 3-0 loss, pushing the former pro to a tie-breaker in the 1st game. Liam and Cai also lost, 3-1 and 3-2 respectively, with Cai losing 11-9 in the 5th after coming back from 2-0 down! Dave took a fairly comfortable 3-0 win at 4 and Alex came through a tough encounter at 5 to finish the fixture off, ending 3-2 in favour of Sussex.
Next up was Devon, where Chris stepped in (replacing Alex) and faced world no. 289 Mike Harris. His opponent proved too solid and won 3-1, while no. 2 Michael beat his opponent 3-0. Dave backed up his performance in the previous match with another 3-0 victory, followed by Liam getting his 1st win of the weekend at no. 3. Unfortunately, Cai couldn’t get the 4th win of the matchup, losing 3-1 after taking a 1-0 lead. This 3-2 win against Devon put the team in the 5/6th play-off against a strong Kent team!
Kent would prove to be Northumbria’s toughest test, as they were littered with pro players, including their no. 1 Josh Masters who is in the top 100 in the world and no. 2 Jack Mitterer at a world ranking of 256. Northumbria went down 4-1 in this fixture, but that score doesn’t quite do our team justice, with Chris narrowly losing out 12-10 in the 5th against Josh Masters and Dave also losing in a tight 3-2. Liam and Alex lost 3-1 in their matches, with our sole win coming from a walkover at 5.
Despite 2 losses out of 3 Northumbria finished up in 6th place and more importantly kept their place in the Premier Division for another year! This is an impressive feat given the quality of the opposition they came up against in this event!
Our women’s team brought a mixture of youth and experience to the championship in Nottingham, including Northern Ladies’ Divison 1 Champions trio Karen Heron, Katie Barker and Annabelle Satow, along with the 2022 Women’s County runner-up Rebeca Symmons and no.1 Josie Barker who is currently playing (and studying) at the University of Nottingham.
The 1st match saw an encounter with promotion front-runners Kent. There were losses from Josie, 3-1, and Katie who lost 2 12-10 tie-breakers to drop 3-0. Wins from Karen and Annabelle had the fixture level at 2-2, but unfortunately, Rebecca lost 11-8 in the fifth, giving Kent a narrow 3-2 victory.
The 2nd match of the event was against Devon who had just been beaten 4-1 by Shropshire in the previous round. Northumbria didn’t dwell on their loss and dominated the Devon team, dropping just 1 game on the way to a 5-0 victory to progress to the 5th/6th place play-off against Lancashire.
The ladies continued their fine form from the previous fixture and took an excellent 4-1 victory over Lancashire to secure 5th place, with Josie, Katie and Annabelle all picking up wins and the 4th coming via a walkover.
Overall this was a really positive event for the women’s team, winning 2 of their 3 matches to secure 5th place, and their only defeat was to the Kent team who finished 2nd. If this team can continue performing like this they will surely be challenging for promotion to the Premier Division next time around!