The Warwickshire Junior County Team competed in the Premier Division of the Junior County Championships on Saturday 17th and Sunday 18th December, taking place at Wood Green Academy in Wednesbury. This was the first time the Junior team were competing in the Premier Division for over 6 years.
The Warwickshire Team was represented by Nathaniel Saunders, Starry Sheung, Elkan Fung, Sophie Rinnhofer, Esther Lam and Hanne Chui. Unfortunately, Christopher Ho was poorly and unable to play; Elkan kindly stepped in with short notice.
V Lancashire (Drew 5-5)
Two wins for Esther Lam against Bethany Ellis and Brooke Morris, both 3-0, as well as single wins for Nathaniel, Starry and Sophie secured the first point for Warwickshire. Elkan was unlucky to lose to Charlie Williams 10-12 in the fifth set, whilst Sophie beat Brooke 11-9 in the fifth set. Rhys Davies from Lancashire won both his matches 3-1, against Nathaniel and Starry.
V Nottinghamshire (Lost 3-7)
A tough match against a very strong team from Nottinghamshire, the defending champions, who retained their title at the end of the weekend. Nathaniel beat Fred Jones 3-1, Starry beat James Harvey 3-1, and Hanne beat Anna Green 3-0, all of which were excellent wins. Sophie was very unlucky to lose to Erin Green 2-3 (5-11, 11-6, 11-6, 3-11, 7-11).
V Sussex (Won 8-2)
A win for the Warwickshire team, with two wins for Elkan, Hanne and Esther, and single wins for Nathaniel and Starry, both of whom lost out to Harry Yip. Starry lost 9-11 in the fifth set.
V Essex (Drew 5-5)
Essex (who finished the weekend in second place) fielded a strong team, including number 1 Cadet Ralph Pattison, Jesse Bath, Toby McLewin, Maliha Baig and Mabel Shute. Hanne was superb, beating both Maliha and Mabel 3-1. Esther beat Mabel 3-0, and fought back from 0-2 down to beat Maliha 11-7 in the fifth set. Starry beat Toby 3-0 to secure the extra point for the Warwickshire team. Elkan was once again unlucky losing to Toby 12-14 in the fifth set.
V Staffordshire (Drew 5-5)
Similar to Warwickshire, Staffordshire were newly promoted to the Premier Division this season. Two wins for Esther against Kirsty Maull and Amillia Baker, and single wins for Nathaniel against Christian Hine 3-0, Starry v Harry Fletcher 3-1, and Elkan against Hine 3-1, secured another point for the Warwickshire squad. Daniel Jones (Staffs) beat both Nathaniel and Starry. Sophie lost to Amillia in three close sets, and 1-3 to Kirsty.
V Kent (Drew 5-5)
The first two matches Elkan v Freddie Wilke, and Starry v Ryan Farthing, were both won by the Warwickshire players in the deciding set. Nathaniel also had a great win against Yiannis Kazantzidis 12-10 in the 5th set. Esther and Hanne both beat Abbie Hurley 3-0, but lost out 1-3 to Saskia Key. The remaining boys’ matches went in Kent’s favour, leading to another draw for Warwickshire, but an extra point which secured Warwickshire’s position in the Premier Division for next season.
V Surrey (Lost 4-6)
The final match of the weekend was against Surrey, who due to illness only had the two Maric-Murray brothers along with Evelyn Pace and Caron Charles. Starry beat Oliver Maric-Murray 3-1, and Hanne beat Caron Charles 3-0. The remaining matches went to Surrey. Hanne was unlucky to lose to Evelyn Pace 9-11 in the fifth set, whilst Sophie lost in three close sets.
The Warwickshire Team finished in 5th place (out of eight counties) with 6 points, and were delighted that they will remain in the Premier Division for the 2023-24 season. A big thank you to Ian Scott for organising the team, and Ian and Kate for coaching throughout the weekend, as well as the support and encouragement of all the parents.
Well done to Nathaniel, Starry, Elkan, Sophie, Esther and Hanne for a successful weekend. Particular congratulations and thanks to Sophie (in her last season as a Junior) who has represented the County Junior Team for the last five+ years, demonstrating her commitment to the team. Nathaniel, Starry, Elkan, Esther and Hanne are all juniors next season, and look forward to competing in the Premier Division once again.