The Warwickshire Junior Squad Milly Bradshaw, Sam Henderson, Jesse Kendrick-Hill, Timmy Cooper and Olivia Fletcher
Following their relegation from the Premier division of the County Championships in 2012/13, the Warwickshire junior side took on a new look as they embarked on their 2013/14 campaign at Weavers Leisure Centre, Northamptonshire on Saturday 2nd November.
With the omnipresent Loz Sweeney, Mathew Outhwaite and Holly Thompson moving from the junior ranks into senior competition, Jesse Kendrick-Hill and Milly Bradshaw were the only two remaining players who had represented the junior side previously. Therefore in came three new faces in the guise of Timmy Cooper, Sam Henderson and Olivia Fletcher.
Most young players would be forgiven for being anxious and nervous on their debuts but all 3 debutants proved that they were worthy additions to a very strong Warwickshire junior set up despite their opening fixture.
First match of the day saw the bears take on title favourites and hosts Northamptonshire where unfortunately they were on the wrong end of a 9-1 thumping. However, coaches Ian Ferguson and Kate Hughes realised there were a number of positives to take from the match, most notably Timmy Coopers excellent 3-0 defeat over Ben Tombs and felt it imperative to reassure the team that they could only go one way after such a heavy defeat and to remain calm and focussed.
Second match and bears old foes Worcestershire were to be their next opponents. On paper the match had all the hallmarks of being an extremely close affair and this certainly came to fruition as the fixture ebbed and flowed.
Warwickshire stormed into a 4-0 lead with victories for all three debutants and an out of sorts Jesse Kendrick Hill getting off the mark also. However a narrow defeat to Laura Horton for Milly Bradshaw appeared to somewhat change the contest, despite Timmy Cooper gaining his second win of the match to make the score 5-1. 3 quick defeats for Jesse, Milly and Olivia soon followed and before Warwickshire knew it, the match score was 5-4 in their favour. Step up Sam Henderson. In an extremely tight 4 set game, Sam somehow managed to quell his nerves and held out to give Warwickshire a memorable 6-4 victory. However both Timmy Cooper and Sam Henderson were equally as impressive and both shared the 'man of the match' award.
The third and final match of the day was against another title contender; Hertfordshire. Unfortunately, Warwickshire were once again to be on the wrong end of a 7-3 scoreline, but there were memorable victories for all three boys as Jesse Kendrick Hill saved his best for last in defeating the talented Luke Walsh, whilst Timmy and Sam both defeated Jamie Fisher in 4 sets.
Both of the girls were extremely unlucky losing 11-8 and 11-9 in the fifth repectively, yet their attitudes were exemplary, despite some outrageous 'gamesmanship' being shown by both players and coaches from Hertfordshire that almost soured an excellent days Table Tennis.
Therefore with one victory and two defeats, Warwickshire have it all to do in the New Year when they play their final weekend of matches if they are to avoid being relegated for the second year in succession. However, despite going through a transitional period, the outlook is extremely bright for the bears as ALL of the girls on the junior ranking list are still cadets and other than Jesse Kendrick Hill, the remaining boys on the list have at least two years left also.Undoubtedly Timmy Cooper and Sam Henderson were Warwickshires best players on the day, both showing a maturity beyond their years and performing to an extremely high level despite making their debuts. Jesse Kendrick hill was out of sorts somewhat but showed glimpses of his prodigious talent, whilst Milly and Olivia were unlucky to lose so many tight games. Nevertheless, with both girls being cadets and with such competition as Emma Kilpatrick and lisa Rinnhoffer to all push each other, the future of Warwickshire Table Tennis looks as strong as it has been for some time.
County Junior Captain