The last two weekends have seen the Gloucestershire girls reach unprecedented heights at England Squash’s Inter County Championships. These Championships start with stage one, with four teams in a group, the top two teams progress in the draw to another round in Stage Two and the bottom two go into a Plate draw. At Stage Two (there are usually four groups of four teams across the country) the winning team moves forward into the final four Championship weekend. This year Gloucestershire’s junior squash players qualified for the Finals weekend with the Under 19 boys, and all the Girls, namely U13, U15, U17 & U19 teams.
The first weekend was held in Guildford for the U15s and U19s. First up were the boys, sadly our no.2 Scott Young was injured which left them losing their semi final 2-3 with only Tom Ford and Kyran Young notching up wins, however the team of Tom, Kyran , Wes Howell and Myles Williams plus Matt Boal (replacing James Watkins who injured himself in the semi’s) all redeemed themselves on the Sunday to finish 3rd. Next semi final on adjacent courts were the U15 and U19 girls, the Under 15 girls were yet to lose a match this season and didn’t blot their copybook at this stage, comfortably beating Warwickshire 5-0, whilst the U19 girls dropped just one match against Northumbria to progress to the Final.
Sunday lunchtime and again the two girls teams were on adjacent courts, both playing Yorkshire. The Gloucestershire U15 girls were the holders so were out to retain their crown, whilst the U19 team had been runners up last year and really wanted to win the title. First up were the no.5 strings, Beth Parker (U15) and Hannah Ballard (U19) both losing, to give Yorkshire the lead they wanted in the two age groups. However the rest of the U15s Gloucestershire girls team of Amber Peacey, Florie Smith, Jade Rothman and Elin Jones weren’t going to give up easily and went on to secure a 4-1 result to win the Inter County U15 title for the second year running. Meanwhile things were not running so smoothly for the U19s. In a tough battle at 3rd string Joely Bennett lost 3-1 to put Yorkshire 2 up. In a great effort Emily Penkett won from 2 games down at 4th string to keep Gloucestershire in the final. The first string match turned out to be a classic, Yorkshire’s Katie Smith (England no.3) going 2-1 up and Ellie Lake (British and English U17 Champion) narrowly winning the 4th. The 5th game was extremely tight and saw Ellie save 2 match balls before winning 13/11 to level the overall tie. So the whole tie came down to the 2nd string rubber between Yorkshire’s Jess Dixon and Kip Quiney, and an absolutely brilliant match went to the wire with Kip saving a couple of match balls in the fourth and eventually overcoming Dixon 3-2 to give the Girls U19 Inter County title to Gloucestershire for the first time.
Last weekend saw the Finals of the U13s and U17s at Lilleshall, home of Sport England. The U13 girls had a round robin with Surrey, South East Wales and Yorkshire but despite beating SE Wales the team of Carys Jones, Freya Lane and Megan Tyler ended up a hard fought 4th on countback of games. The U17 team consisted of the top three girls form the U19 team, Ellie Lake, Kip Quiney and Joely Bennett and the top two girls from the U15 team Amber Peacey and Florie Smith with Elin Jones reserve, easily overcame Northumbira to win their semi final 5-0. In the final against Warwickshire Joely gave Gloucestershire the start they were looking for with a routine 3-0 win, this was followed with a marathon match by no.5 strings Florie Smith winning 12/10 in the fifth against Warwickshire’s Libby Corke. Victory was soon secured when Ellie Lake and Kip Quiney both won 3-0 and Amber Peacey completed the clean sweep to take the Girls U17 Inter County Cup for the first time and a remarkable 3rd title for the girls of Gloucestershire this season.