Youngsters pull together to win trophy

Tennis: Norfolk have won the Lionel Cox East Region Inter-County event for the first time in 17 years.The team competition for the East of England counties is held during the first May Bank holiday every year.

Norfolk have won the Lionel Cox East Region Inter-County event for the first time in 17 years.

The team competition for the East of England counties is held during the first May Bank holiday every year. It features teams from Norfolk, Suffolk, Cambridgeshire, Bedfordshire, Buckinghamshire, Northamptonshire, Essex and Hertfordshire.

Originally, Norfolk hosted the event at the UEA but it is now staged by Hertfordshire LTA at Queenswood School on Clay and Astroturf courts.

The teams comprise three boys and three girls in three age groups. The under elevens and under tens play over Saturday and Sunday while the under nines just play Saturday. The competition started in 1974 and only three counties have ever won. Essex has the most wins, then Hertfordshire, with Norfolk sharing the honours with Essex in 1977 and 1978, and only winning it outright in 1990.

At the training sessions held in March and April, David Weeds and Donna Andrews, the team captains, told the team that they felt this year Norfolk had a great chance of winning this prestigious event. This hinged on all age groups pulling together as a team and achieving their best possible results.

The eight counties are split into two groups of four, with each group playing a round robin to establish the top places.

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The Under-9s play short sets and the winner of Group A plays the runner-up of Group B and the winner of Group B plays the runner-up of Group A in a semi-final, with the winners going through to the final.

Both the Norfolk U9 boys team of Will Davies, Owen Tudor and Alex McNaughton and girls team of Catherine Broster, Maria Andrews and Emma Moolman won their boxes in Stage 1 and then the semi-finals to go through to the finals. This was a tremendous start, with the U9 girls beating Essex 2-1 in the final, while the boys narrowly lost to Hertfordshire to come second.

The U10 and U11 events are played over two days. The U10 Norfolk girls' team of Georgia Moyes, Klara Moolman and Rebecca Woodrow cruised through their Group A box with three decisive wins. The U10 boys' team of Johnnie Carmichael-Plester, Jack Long-Martinez and Joseph Evans couldn't quite match that but came second in their box.

Norfolk girls Megan Wright, Dayna Rice and Bronte Farrage dominated the U11 event round robin, coming first, while the boys U11 team of Joshua Trett, Michael Tudor and William Foster put up a good fight with each player losing one match in three sets to come third overall.

At the end of the third box match on the second day the teams stood as follows - U10 girls in first and second play-off, U10 boys in third and fourth play-off, U11 girls in first and second play-off, and the U11 boys in a fifth and sixth play-off. From our calculations we needed to win two of these play-offs to beat Essex outright.

Essex did their job and won all their play-offs. The U11 girls lost their final to Essex 3-0 and finished second, while the U10 boys lost to Hertfordshire 2-1 to finish fourth.

The U11 boys pulled off an unexpected win against Cambridgeshire 2-1 and finished fifth. This left Norfolk tied for first place with Essex.

However the U10 girls finished in style, not losing a match all weekend and beating Buckinghamshire 3-0 to win the U10 girls event and thus the Lionel Cox trophy outright.

Essex were second, Hertfordshire third, Cambridgeshire and Suffolk tied for fourth, Northamptonshire sixth, Buckinghamshire seventh and Bedfordshire eighth.

This achievement was especially satisfying to David Weeds as seven of the team started playing with him at the age of five and he has continued to coach them in squads over the past five years.

Both David and Donna would like to thank all the team for their hard work and support they gave each other all weekend. Thanks also go to the large number of parents who joined in with the team's enthusiastic support.

David and Donna felt they could not single out any individual because every single child had made an important contribution at some stage.

As national coach John Trahearn pointed out, each Norfolk team supported their other teams so in the end the best overall team effort won. Well done Norfolk!