Ladies Win Promotion in a Tight Contest

Having topped our stage 1 weekend, Cambridgeshire reached the promotion weekend for stage 2. We were playing for the heady heights of the premier division, and needed to come in the top two of the four teams competing to be promoted.

We had a strong team out, with almost all our top players available, and we also had a home advantage as the hosts for the weekend. Thanks to the University of Cambridge Sports Centre for providing the courts. But we faced strong opposition in Hampshire, Middlesex 1, and Middlesex 2. Given that the population of Cambridgeshire is half that of Hampshire and a quarter that of Middlesex, the odds were against us, but it's quality not quantity that matters most!

We were up against Middlesex 2 first. Middlesex were playing no. 1-5 in their first team and no. 6-10 in their seconds, so Middlesex 2 seemed likely to be our weakest opponents, and luckily for us, last minute injuries had left them with only four players.

Sarah went on first and gave only 1 point away in the first game, cruising to victory. Tayla and Ali also won comfortably. Kate had a back and forth game against a former Cambridge University player which she clinched in the fifth, giving us maximum points for the first match.

Next we faced Middlesex 1. They had already beaten Hampshire in a close match but we knew we had chances throughout the order.

Anira played a world ranked Brazilian player, going 2-1 up and well up in the 4th. But her opponent started hitting more forcefully making it harder for Anira to play her game, leading to a 3-2 defeat. Sarah played a master's player who she had previously beaten 3-1, but things didn't work out on this occasion, going down 3-0. We needed all three remaining strings to win to get the overall victory.

Tayla and Ali went on next. They both did the business and set things up for Kate to bring it home at 2nd string. Things were looking good after Kate went 1-0 up against a young left-handed player, but despite fighting all the way to the end, she lost 3-1.

That meant we lost 3-2 to Middlesex 1, and needed to beat Hampshire to have a chance of promotion. Luckily they had also had last minute illness and injury, and only had four players, giving us a walkover at 5th string.

Bringing fresh legs in, Reka was up against a strong master's player. Despite her determination, her opponent managed to level the match for Hampshire. While we had intended to rest Kate, she stepped up again, but couldn't manage to cause her opponent enough trouble, also losing 3-0.

However, Ali and Tayla, both unbeaten so far, were next on. With a big crowd of supporters gathered for the last two matches of the day, Ali took her match in three, despite her opponent's skillful racket work. Tayla took the first two games, but looked to be fading as her opponent came back to level it at 2-2, causing some concern to the Cambridgeshire supporters. But we cheered her to a great 3-2 win, resulting in us winning the match against Hampshire 3-2!

This final victory meant that we came 2nd/4, meaning that we will be promoted to the premier division! Cambridgeshire punched well above our weight, being by far the least populous county competing at the weekend, and only losing very narrowly to the winners, Middlesex 1.

Our woman of the match was Tayla Mounter who not only won all her matches but also did a great job marking non-stop.

Special thanks to Ali's mum who did the food.

Also to our sponsor, Redmayne, Arnold & Harris, as well as iProSports who supplied our kit.

Full results:

Cambridgeshire v Middlesex 2
Ali 3-0 Rosa Rius
Kate 3-2 Alexandra Bryant
Tayla 3-0 Tania Loughran
Sarah 3-0 Venetia Andrew
Walkover to Cambridgeshire at 5th string

Cambridgeshire v Middlesex 1
Ali 3-1 Margaux Pitarch
Kate 1-3 Margot Prow
Tayla 3-1 Jess Hunter
Sarah 0-3 Rina Borromeo
Anira 2-3 Bruna Petrillo

Cambridgeshire v Hampshire
Ali 3-0 Sarah Spacey
Kate 0-3 Emily Heyes
Tayla 3-2 Catherine Finlayson
Reka 0-3 Beverly Brockway
Walkover to Cambridgeshire at 5th string

Cambs Squash is sponsored by TonySquash and Redmayne Arnold & Harris