Sussex 18u tough it out to progress to the top County Group

The 18U Boys team travelled to Bromley to take part in a strong Group 2, along with home side Kent, West of Scotland and Warwickshire. We had the benefit of a full contingent, welcoming back Kai Maxted to the fold after an absence, as well as debutant Sam Nicholson. Preparations had been good, as once again, we had reinforced some of the valuable work put in over the past few campaigns on the Doubles court.We knew we would have a tough opener against Kent on Day 1, and so it proved, as we were quickly 2-0 down after losses from Bloomfield and Hyman at 5 & 6. A steadying of the ship was needed in the middle order, as Kilsby and Fox battled it out. Kilsby came through a solid encounter, and Fox, in one of the turnarounds of the day, rallied from a set and a break down to overcome his higher ranked opponent.
Our top order, saw Kai Maxted dominating his opponent, and a high quality encounter at No 1 between Lui Maxted and Pinnington Jones, which was narrowly edged by the home player in a 3rd set breaker, to leave the tie in the balance – 3-3 after singles. And to the doubles; with confidence in our preparations, we dominated the doubles line ups, with the top sibling pairing of Maxted/Maxted sealing the day with a resounding victory. the opening day ended with a narrow 5-4 victory to set us up with a clash with West of Scotland or Day 2.

Sam Nicholson at the bottom of the order, was the only change to the line-up, as we quickly established a stranglehold on the tie, with straight sets victories from Nicholson (6), Hyman (5) and Kilsby (4) to set us on our way. Fox and Maxted Jr went down in two titanic battles, Lui going toe to toe with one of GBs top ranked junior players. Another commanding victory from Maxted Sr gave us the advantage going into the Doubles. Elliot Stephens stepped in to take Maxted Jr’s place in the line up, as Sussex took a clean sweep of the doubles to end the day 7-2.With the format as it is, we had now ensured matters were in our own hands, but there was no room for complacency – there should be no rubber/match left unaccounted for in this format – a mentality the boys evidenced from the outset. We raced into a 2 – 0 lead again – the standout performance of the day came from senior Harvey Kilsby who rallied in a tough three set victory over his counterpart – Harvey backed himself well in the big moments to come through under pressure. This victory set us on our way with the Maxted brothers taking the top two singles encounters; Lui, fittingly, sealing the final match that sends us back up to the pinnacle of 18U County tennis – Group 1 in Bath in 2020.This same nucleus of players has taken Sussex from Group 3 to Group 1, and Captains Barry Fulcher & Keelan Oakley were pleased with the team spirit, camaraderie, and resilience shown by all the players.

This Sussex team represented something we as Captains have instilled from the outset – Sussex Grit; and are thoroughly deserving of a place in the top group in 2020!A big thanks to our outgoing senior players on their fantastic junior careers – Kai Maxted, Harvey Kilsby and Alex Hyman.  Onwards to Bath!