On Saturday 24 November 2018, the Kent County Schools Netball Finals took place at Aylesford Rugby Club. Eight teams, having qualified in their respective age groups, each competed at U14, U16 and U19. Having watched the weather forecast all week, expecting heavy rain or sleet all day, it was a pleasant relief to find it dry but grey and overcast.
Tonbridge Grammar School had 2 teams in the competition, one at U16 and another at U19 level. Having arrived early, we were fortunate enough to set ourselves up in one of the few changing rooms allocated to the netballers so that we could dump all our kit and use it to get away from the melee. One of the many advantages of staging the event at Aylesford RC.
TGS U16s started their matches in the 2nd round of the day, always playing on the court ahead of the U19 matches which meant that both teams could offer side-line encouragement to one another, which added to the exciting atmosphere. Having played Highworth Grammar School, Ashford in the qualifying tournament rounds, we knew they would be one of our toughest opponents. However, a strong performance saw us lose by only 2 goals, which gave us hope for a successful day. The next match, against Benenden, was strongly contested to result in a draw (this was to prove decisive at the end of the day). Our 3rd match, posted our first win of the day over TWGGs, but we then followed that with another draw, this time against Sevenoaks. This match should have resulted in another win had we held our nerve because we were leading throughout the entire match until the very end, having made a few too many basic passing errors. Determined to improve and play the level of netball we all knew we were capable of, we then lifted our game to record 3 strong wins in the final 3 matches against Rochester Grammar, Bromley High School and Walthamstow Hall. During our final match, we knew that if we won and Highworth beat Benenden, as expected, then we would qualify for Regionals as runners up. We did our bit but Highworth, having won all their matches to that point, lost to Benenden School after resting their main 6ft1” shooter for that last match of the day, unfortunately pushing TGS into 3rd place behind Benenden. Disappointed not to have qualified with a better goal average than Benenden, we nevertheless picked up our 3rd place medals with pride. The whole squad played some fantastic netball, especially towards the latter half of the day, so are to be applauded for their efforts and team spirit. Well done U16s!
TGS U19s started their day against The Judd, knowing like the U16s that it was likely to prove the toughest match of the day since 4 players in The Judd team had previously been part of the TGS National Squad at U16 level, so we knew what we were up against! It was a rather scrappy start from both teams with numerous turnovers, but TGS just held on to a one goal advantage after playing the more controlled netball in the 2nd half of the match. The next 2 matches were keenly contested with some physical style of play from Benenden and Tunbridge Wells Girls’ Grammar School but TGS came out on top in both to secure tight wins. The 4th match against St. Lawrence, started slowly but once again, the girls got into their stride and secured a convincing 10 goal lead, in the 12 minute match, to win easily. Next saw us play our old rivals Sevenoaks School, who always give us a strong match and prove tough opposition. Once again though, TGS came out on top to secure a 2 goal victory. The last 2 matches of the day against Hayes and Wally Hall were not guaranteed but we knew that we should post a couple of wins, based on the day’s previous results, and that’s exactly what we did do. So, having won all our matches, we picked up the County Trophy, just ahead of The Judd School. Both schools now go on to represent Kent in the LSE Regional Finals, which take place in Middlesex on Sunday 27th January 2019. This was a fantastic achievement from a team whose core players have now been County Champions at U12, U14, U16 (twice) and U19 level, having only missed out once in their school careers to date at U13 level. I cannot praise them enough for their continued commitment to training (that has clearly paid off!) and their wonderful team spirit which chines through every squad member old and new.
Thank you to …. the staff who give up many hours after school and at weekends to provide the girls with the opportunity to play in these tournaments and give the coach much needed support too. To the parents, who provide such wonderful side-line support and the taxi service to and from the venues. To the girls for their amazing attitude towards each other and their netball on and off the court. And finally, to the tournament organisers and the ARC for hosting this event.
Good luck at Regionals U19s!
Emily, U19 Captain said, “Overall, it was a really enjoyable day. Both teams performed exceptionally well. There were challenges throughout the day, but with the support and confidence in each other, we managed to work through them and came out as U19 Champions.”
TGS U16 results
TGS vs Highworth (9-11), Benenden (9-9), TWGGs (9-4), Sevenoaks (6-6), Rochester Grammar (14-6), Bromley High (8-4), Wally Hall (16-7)
TGS U19 results
TGS vs The Judd (9-8), Benenden (10-7), TWGGs (12-8), St Lawrence (16-6), Sevenoaks (10-8), Hayes (15-8), Wally Hall (9-2).