By Captain, Lucy Charlton
Team: Lucy Charlton, Tash Starling, Emily Appleton, Lily Miyazaki, Danielle Hack, Sally Pethybridge, Lucy Weber, Lara Bakhaya, Jodie Annie Lawrence-Taylor, Orianna Parkins Godwin, Gisela Castany.
The Opposition: The Queens Club, Roehampton, Southampton University, Lee on the Solent, Putney, Windsor, Hazlewood.
During the Regional stage of the tournament, our team travelled near and far to compete against seven very talented teams. The matches were by no means easy and almost every match came down to just a couple of points. Our closest matches of the season were against Hazlewood and Roehampton. Both of which went to 3 match tiebreaks where Sutton scraped the win by only a couple of points each time. As many of you will know, one of the biggest challenges of team tennis, is getting a team out for each match. We are fortunate that we have a lot of depth within our team, and each of our players are committed and will go the extra mile for the sake of their team-mates. An example of this was when Jodie flew back from the states for 1 weekend to see her parents, got in a car to Southampton, and won us a match. Without Jodie’s commitment to the team on this occasion, we simply would not be holding the trophy because we would have been unable to field a team which would have cost us the match. Winning the Regional stage of the tournament was a victory, but I knew that our girls were capable to go all the way.
The delay of the NPL Finals allowed us to arrange lots of team training at the club. Our team consists of a variety of ages and experience, but Tennis is what brings us together. It was an important part of our success, allowing the girls to work-out where they were most comfortable, and trying different partners. Closer to the finals we arranged for The Wimbledon Club Ladies to come to Sutton for a round-robin tournament. In all this, I was learning everything I needed to know about our team ahead of the Finals weekend.
You would assume that we are now in the best possible position to succeed in the Finals. Prior to the weekend each Captain nominates 8 players for the event. Of our 8, we were down to 4 due to tournament schedules and exams, resulting in me having to get on court for a few hits to dust off the cobwebs and do what I could to not destroy our chances. Thankfully, we did enough to carry us through to day 2 against David Lloyd Sunderland. A trickier opposition than I had envisaged going to a match shoot-out that Tash and Emily performed seamlessly in. Finals day, the girls were apprehensive about our chances, though I had every belief. The opposition were fierce, but so were we. What stands us apart is our relentless commitment to leave everything on the court for the other girls in the team.
I want to say a huge thank you to the Club, and everyone that has shown us support through physically being present, or the wonderful emails that the team received prior to the event and also throughout the season. The club is a very special place in that sense and we truly hope that our pride in winning this event is also yours. A special thank you to Steve Tiddy for the hard work he put in to enable the event to be held at our home club. This makes a big difference to a team that has got this far without any sponsorship. Being able to play freely on home turf was the dream.