On Sunday 7th October, the first stage of the U13 girls’ inter-county squash championship was held at Duffield Squash club. The three teams competing were: Lincolnshire, North Wales and Derbyshire. Although we knew the Lincolnshire players from previous encounters, North Wales were an unknown quantity. Derbyshire were represented by Gabrielle Barton from Brampton Manor squash club playing at number one, Rebekah King from Sutton – a real catch for Derbyshire as she had the option of playing for either Nottinghamshire or Derbyshire, and a player with bags of potential – playing at number two, and Elizabeth Wall and Libby Leivers, both from Brampton Manor, taking it in turns to play at third string. This was the first outing for this team, three out of the four players representing Derbyshire for the first time.
First up was Lincolnshire, probably the favourites at the outset, fielding a very strong team with the number one and two in the East Midlands regional squad. But, both Gabrielle and Rebekah weren’t daunted by the task ahead of them, and although they went down 3/0 in both matches, they competed; Gabrielle increasing her points score in each subsequent game against a player ranked 6th in the UK, and Rebekah’s highlight – taking the East Midlands Regional Champion to 11/9 in one game. Elizabeth showed no nerves what-so-ever in her first county match. She exhibited maturity and composure far beyond her age of eleven, playing great squash to beat the Lincolnshire player 11/1, 11/1, 11/3, what a way to start your county squash career!
After lunch came the Welsh. The Derbyshire girls were awesome, winning all of their matches to take the tie 3/0 and attain the runners-up position in the tournament behind Lincolnshire. Gabrielle’s games went 11/5, 11/4, and then a shudder when the Welsh girl found inspiration from somewhere to win the third game 11/5, but Gabrielle recovered to take the fourth convincingly at 11/6. Rebekah played some super squash in her game against the Welsh number two; she dominated from the outset taking the match 11/1, 11/4, 11/1. And then, last, but by no means least – Libby Leivers – a real asset to any team with her skilful play and ever enthusiastic nature. Libby went on court like she was born to play for her county, comprehensively winning her match 11/2, 11/4, 11/4. What a fantastic achievement for a player aged only nine! Well done girls, you did Derbyshire proud!
- Derbyshire girls, starting far right to left – Gabrielle, Elizabeth, Libby, Rebekah