Gloucestershire U21`s headed to York in search of redemption after a tough 2018 tournament saw the young team struggle against high quality opposition. Hopefully the tough times of previous years would server them well and they could bounce back with another year’s experience playing in tournaments.
The draw saw the team in Group C alongside Essex, Yorkshire and Isle of Man, a tough group with some well ranked players. Day 1 started against the hosts Yorkshire who are well known for strength in depth so this was always going to be a tough start. Both singles went the way of Yorkshire but the men’s doubles pairing of Jamie Pearcy and Sam Gibson got Glos on the scoreboard. Jamie doubled up to partner Matilda Tierney to a mixed win but couldn’t prevent the team from going down 4-2. Not the worst start and the team looked to be very competitive in this group.
Onto the toughest game of the weekend against group favourites Essex lead by Rosemary Allen ranked 7 in England in women’s singles at senior level. The team were under no illusions we would have to pick our matches and try to scrape a result. Henry Jones found some great form in his men’s singles but unfortunately lost out in a tough 3 set match against Mannah Rahman who went unbeaten in singles over the weekend. Ceri Evans played some good rallies in her singles and deserved a lot of credit for volunteering to play singles. Both the doubles also went the way of Essex meaning an unassaibable 4-0 lead going into the mixed. Pearcy/Tierney paired up and lost a very tight match 21-19 in the third whilst the perfroamance of the match came from Henry Jones and Chloe Haywood combing to prevent the whitewash. The 5-1 scoreline a bit harsh on the team and if the 3 setters had gone our way a draw would not have been an unfair result.
Onto the crunch match against Isle of Man, time to step up. The team got off to a bad start in the singles which saw the team 2-0 down, potentially expected with Jessica Li turning up for the opponents. The doubles saw Joanna Gresty and Matilda Tierney with a crucial 2 set victory and the mens doubles pair of Gibson/Pearcy winning but in 3 sets, would that dropped set prove crucial come the end of the match. Pearcy/Tierney continued their good form with a 2 set win so it all came down to final mixed match. Henry Jones/Chloe Haywood competing in a very intense game sadly losing out in 2 sets meaning a 3-3 draw but Isle of Man securing 3rd place in the group on sets won.
This meant on Day 2 Gloucestershire would be competing for 13th-16th places. A bit harsh considering some fantastic performances throughout Saturday and being very competitive even against the top teams. Glos would go into day 2 buoyed by form and not disheartened by the final scores.
Glos vs Lancashire looked to be a tight match. Jamie and Matilda this time taking up the singles responsibilities and both coming through with 2 set wins, a great start. A reverse in fortune saw both doubles pairs edged out in 2 sets meaning it again would all come down to the mixed doubles. Team Glos used to this experience from day 1 and the experience would show. Pearcy/Tierney combining again to win in 2 sets meaning the set won by Jones/Gresty in their loss was enough to secure victory meaning Glos would avoid the playoff for last place and would instead fight for 13th/14th against Leinster.
Again the team got off to a flying start taking straight set wins in both singles, the perfect start. Nathan Mead would partner Jamie Pearcy with Ceri Evans and Joanna Gresty in the womens events. Both succumbing to some strong Leinster doubles pairs in straight sets. A familiar theme with the tie to be decided on the mixed games. Pearcy/Tierney winning the first set 21-19 with the reverse result in the other mixed with Gibson/Haywood losing a narrow first set. Countback meaning the tie was level on sets and Glos leading by 3 points. Pearcy/Tierney losing the second set and everyone feared the worst before Gibson/Haywood put in a great performance to win the second set and take the tie down to the final games with the team separated by a single point. Sadly both pairs eventually losing out meaning a 4-2 loss and a 14th place finish for Gloucestershire.
All in all it was a very promising tournament from the whole team with every player contributing. Sometimes unlucky with results but the team ran some very good teams close and should be proud of the way they represented their county.