The highpoint of the season for the U18’s is always the Inter Counties Tournament. On the 4th April this year an excited group of five girls and five boys set off by minibus for the splendid venue at Nottingham University. After a relaxing evening meal they were all set for the start of proceedings the next day.
Day 1 saw the Sussex team grouped with old rivals Berkshire together with Warwickshire and Shropshire. Sussex got off to a good start in their first match against Berkshire winning both mixed doubles and gaining ICT debut wins for Nicole Wood and Will Pieckielon. Eloise Matthews was another debut winner in the girls’ singles as were Scott Haysom and Ieuan Rice in the boys’ doubles. The girls won both their doubles providing yet another debut win for Bea Noakes. A great start to the tournament with a 6-4 win.
The next match against seeded Warwickshire saw a reversal of fortunes and a 9-1 defeat. The sole Sussex winner was Thomas Wood in the boys’ singles.
The last match of the day saw Sussex battle out a 5-5 draw with Shropshire, only to lose out on count-back. Sussex lost the first five matches but went on to win the second five. The fight back started when Thomas won his singles. There were then great three set wins in doubles for Eva Craig and Robyn Haysom, Eloise and Bea and Scott and Ieuan. Will Pieckielon and Ben Smith rounded it off with an exciting 21-19, 15-13 win in their doubles.
There are twenty badminton courts at the magnificent David Ross Sports Village at Nottingham University and their second day there proved to be Sussex’s most successful. In their group for the day were Devon, Northumberland and the Isle of Man. First up were Isle of Man whom Sussex defeated 8-2. There was another three set win in the mixed for Will and Nicole whilst the two Sussex losses both went to three sets.
The next match saw Sussex defeat Northumberland 6-4. Sussex won all four singles with wins by Scott, Thomas, Robyn and Eloise. They also won both girls doubles where Eva and Robyn and Eloise and Bea saw Sussex safely home.
The final match of the day was a potentially tricky one against Devon, but Sussex prevailed, winning 6-4.There was a great three set win by Robyn in the girls’ singles. Bea also won her singles and Sussex took all the level doubles. A real nail-biter in the final game saw Eva and Robyn win through 15-13 in the last of three sets.
Day 3 was a day of mixed fortune with a great 6-4 win against Suffolk and a 4-6 reverse against Avon. First up were Avon where Sussex won both girls singles with Robyn and Bea and both girls’ doubles with Eva and Robyn and Eloise and Bea. In the match against Suffolk Sussex got off to a good start with wins in the mixed for Ben and Nicole and siblings Scott and Robyn. Will and Ieuan had great wins in the boys singles; Eloise and Bea won their doubles and then Thomas and Scott played out of their skins to win 20-18, 15-12 in their doubles.
The last day saw Sussex paired with Lincolnshire. It was a close match but Sussex went down 4-6. Ben and Nicole just lost out in three in the mixed. Bea lost in three in the girls singles as did Eva and Robyn in the doubles. However there were great wins for Scott, Will and Robyn in the singles and another in the final doubles which Eloise and Bea won in three.
The team played with great sportsmanship and spirit throughout and finished in a commendable 19th place. They received fantastic support and encouragement from Jonty Russ, Mark Russ, and Andrew Craig. Several parents made the trip up to Nottingham to support the team and those that couldn’t make it supported from afar helped by regular score updates via “Whats App”. All those involved enjoyed yet another memorable ICT experience.
2018 ICT team: Eva Craig, Robyn Haysom, Scott Haysom, Eloise Matthews, Bea Noakes, Will Pieckielon, Ieuan Rice, Ben Smith, Nicole Wood, Thomas Wood.
Report by Bob Wood