The ladies over 40’s county team were in Nottingham last weekend and were looking to hold on to the title they won in 2017. The team kicked off their campaign on Saturday in the semi-final against Oxfordshire. We got off to a good start with Mandy Akin and Karen Hume winning at 3 & 5. Next on were Keeley Johnson and Candy wilton at No 1 & No 4. With Keeley taking on the strong Oxfordshire number 1, Sue Martin-Downhill! Keeley had a tough game and was leading 2/1, when Sue made a spirited come back to level the game at 2/2. Meanwhile, on the next court Candy was well on her way and took the match 3/0, securing Kent a place in the final. Keeley went on to a 10/0 lead in the 5th and eventually took the game and won the match. Catherine, in the No. 2 spot went on to also win 3/0, making it a 5/0 win.
Sunday morning we were up and ready to meet our old rivals Surrey, who we’d narrowly beaten in 2017 in a 3/2 thriller. No one could call the match result as at each string either Kent or Surrey could’ve won! First on was Mandy Akin at No. 3 and Karen Hume at No. 5. Mandy faced Isabelle Tweedle, whose path she had crossed on many occasions. With starkly contrasting games and a history of healthy competition, the audience on Nottingham’s show court settled down for an entertaining battle. They were not disappointed, with games being won in turn by either player. Mandy endeavoured to impose pace on the game which Isabelle skilfully countered with punishing lobs, drops and touch play in general. In the vital fifth game, Mandy developed an early lead which she was able to cling onto to enable Kent to come off court with their first victory. Meanwhile on the other court Karen Hume was battling it out against a relatively young opponent whose speed and shots were giving Karen some trouble and having lost the first two games had a lot to do. Karen dug in and gradually the game began to shift and Karen took control to battle her way through and recover to 2 games each. By this time the rest of the Kent team were shouting (rather loudly) from behind the court to encourage Karen. She didn’t disappoint and played fabulous squash to take the fifth game and put Kent in a great position at two games to nil! We all agreed that Karen was our player of the weekend!
Next on Keeley Johnson against a ‘very strong’ Surrey No. 1, Shayne Bailey and Candy Wilton against the Surrey No. 4, who was relatively unknown to us! Keeley was having a battle and giving everything, but so was Shayne, with Shayne taking the first two games. Keeley continued to battle but Shayne was playing great squash and managed to close the game out 3/0. Candy was doing what she does best on the other court and playing beautiful squash and giving her opponent nothing! she took the first 2 games comfortably. In the third game Candy took an 8/0 lead and basically it was pretty much over for Surrey. Candy took that final game 11/4 to give Kent the victory over Surrey for the second year in a row.
Catherine at No. 2 against the strong Vicky Strange, went on to battle out the dead rubber and the game was played in great spirit and it was great for Kent to be able to watch having already secured the title. Catherine went 2/0 down but managed to take the third game, but Vicky was too strong on the day and took the match 3/1.
Thanks also must go to our reserve Angie White, who played in the early rounds to help us get to the final.
Well done ladies it’s always a pleasure to captain such a great team.
Below are some words that Candy Wilton sent me that she would like me to add to this report (thanks Candy)
‘Mandy has captained the over 40’s Kent county team for 15 years and contributes a superb mix of experience of playing competitively in her own right and as part of a county team. She is relied upon for pen portraits of opponents, their current form and game plan suggestions.’