2017, this was the last time Dumfries & Galloway as a district, attended the Scottish Inter-District Team Tennis Championships which is a 4-day residential event taking place this year in Perthshire. So, in 2023 we returned to this event with a 12-player team who were looking to put D&G back on the tennis map. Since 2010, we have sent partial teams in 2014, 2015 and 2017 with all of them finishing in last position out of the 9 districts. These being Ayrshire, Central, Tayside, North East, Highlands, Borders, West and East of Scotland.
So, for this year the message was simple, let try and not finish last or at least put oor wee district in with a chance of at least being involved on the last day.
Each district sends 4 x 12s & under players, 4 x 15s & under and 4 x 18s & under with each team made up of 2 boys and 2 girls. Days 1 and 2 are qualifying matches with 1st in each of the 3 groups going on to play for the titles, with the 2nd and 3rd team playing each other to have a say in the overall winners.
Our 18s were a young team with 3 of the players being 15-year-olds and one 12-year-old and they were drawn against one of the favourites in West of Scotland who won the 18s last year and a strong Ayrshire team. The kids put up a good effort but as expected the young team struggled with the strength of their opponents and last all their matches. This would put them in group 3 for the last 2 days.
Like the 18s our 15s were also a young team with 3 of them being 13 years and one 11-year-old. They also struggled in the opening 2 days as they were drawn against Tayside and the North East. Both these districts have large cities to pick players from with Dundee and Aberdeen respectfully. Again, another good effort against their opponents but ultimately, we would end up in group 3 also for the 15s.
Then we had our 12s, they were drawn against the East of Scotland and Central with both expecting to be challenging for the top spots at the end of the week. Each match would see 2 boys singles, 2 girls singles and a boys and girls doubles. Day one saw the singles matches with D&G winning 2 matches out of 4 in each rubber. This left us with all to play for in day 2 with the doubles. Both the girls match ended in tight losses with the boys winning both of theirs, this would result in 2 match tie-breaks to 10 with one boy and one girl from each team pairing up for the shoot-out. This was a great achievement with D&G still could end up in any of the three positions. The East were up first as D&G took and early lead and went on to win the shoot-out, this guaranteed then 2nd place in the group before playing Central. This tie-break was tight after the first 6 points as they turned at 3-3 before D&G started to win more of the battles and eventually took the match 10-7 to secure 1st spot in this group and a place at the top league. A really great achievement for this little district.
Days 3 and 4 were all about positions. Our 12s were matched up against Tayside and the West of Scotland with both the 18s and 15s playing against the Highlands and Borders. Day 3 was our one wet day so play was slower. Both our boys 12s players won their singles matches against Tayside so this match sat at 2-2 before Thursdays doubles but they struggled against the West going down 4-0. Our 18s completed day three with a 2-2 tie against Highlands and both girls won their singles and 3-1 down against Borders. The 15s played their doubles matches on Wednesday losing both against the Highlands and winning both against the Borders. All to play for on the last day.
Our players entered day 4 with lots of matches that had purpose and a good team spirit. Our 12s battled away with their doubles but it looked like a day to much as they lost all four rubbers to finish 3rd overall but what a great achievement for them. The 15s started their singles and completed a 6-0 win over their Border opponents. Against the highlands was trickier and we ended up losing that match 5-1 overall. This left the 18s with their doubles, neither doubles pairing could trouble the experienced Borders pairings as we lost that match 5-1. This left us against the Highlands to see who would come 2nd in the group and 8th overall. The boys were outmuscled by their older opponents which left it up t the girls. The girls stated slow by going 4-1 down in their first set before clawing it back to win the first set 6-4. Set 2, what a surprise the girls did it again, going 4-1 down before taking that rubber 6-4, 6-4. This left us with a mixed pairs match tie-break. Both started nervously before D&G started to win the rallies and ended up 9-4 in front. They had 5 match points to do this before the Highlands started to chip away at this, 9-5, 9-6, 9-7 before they completed the win 10-7.
A tremendous effort from our little D&G starts as they came 7th overall.
A big thank you has to go the Holywood Trust for supporting the team as entering this event doesn’t come cheap. Thanks to Tennis Dumfries & Galloway for their contribution, thanks to Dumfries Tennis Club for allowing us to use their facilities for practice this year, thanks to The Print Copy Centre in Dumfries for their efforts in getting our teamwear sorted, thanks to the parents of the kids who supported us both through-out the build up and from a far and at the event in Perthshire. Thank you also to the kids, some of these kids playing well out of their age groups to help the team get there and thanks to both captains, Rebecca Topping and Michael Goldie who supported these 12 kids during these 4 days, coaches, captains and parents all rolled into one for the duration of the event. What an achievement.
Overall standings – Scottish Inter District Team Championship 2023
12s – (Dominik Czopek, Jack Wearing, Lucy Scade & Caitlin Topping)
1st – West,
2nd – Tayside,
3rd – Dumfries & Galloway,
15s – (Cameron Hunter, Nathan Zaoral, Autumn Hodgins & Eilidh Topping)
7th – Highlands,
8th – Dumfries & Galloway,
9th – Borders
18s – (Fergus Reynolds-Lewis, Flynn Dalgliesh, Eve Crombie & Isla McFarlane)
7th – Borders,
8th – Dumfries & Galloway,
9th – Highlands