Nottinghamshire are the new English Women’s County Champions, winning the title for the first time - with a match in hand. The county triumphed when they won their fourth match of the week at County Finals and Buckinghamshire did them the favour of defeating challengers Lancashire.
The team spent anxious moments in front of the scoreboard checking and rechecking points before erupting into cheers. Their captain Kathryn Horberry beamed broadly as she said: “It’s absolutely fantastic!”
This is Nottinghamshire’s first appearance at County Finals since 2000 - when Kathryn, an eight times county champion, was in the team. Her players have invited her to tee it up in tomorrow’s final match against Essex but she has declined “I don’t want headlines saying county captain loses 8/7,” she laughed.
She’s also determined that her team goes all out for their fifth win of the week. “We will definitely be trying, we want to beat everyone,” she said.
Today, Nottinghamshire played Gloucestershire in a crunch match. If the South West champions had won it would have made the final day’s play wide open – and they challenged strongly.
But Nottinghamshire stayed firmly on their winning streak and came through with a scoreline of 5½-3½. They shared the morning foursomes and lost the top two singles to Alex Saunders and international Bethan Popel, who beat par, but their remaining four players all won their points.
Meanwhile, Buckinghamshire were battling for their first win of the week – and one which proved to be crucial to the outcome of the tournament. By defeating Lancashire 5½-3½ they ended the Northern champions’ title challenge.
Buckinghamshire captain Phillipa Cook said: “I knew how crucial it would be but it wasn’t at the forefront of our minds. The big thing for us was to get our win. The team have played really well all week but they haven’t managed to finish the games off.”
They again trailed 2-1 after the morning foursomes but they played with great determination in the singles. Four of the matches were all square through the early holes, but the Buckinghamshire players edged ahead in the later stages and held on well for their win. “We are delighted,” said Phillipa. “We don’t like propping up the leaderboard!”
Sussex were also delighted with their second win of the week, beating Essex 6-3. They got ahead in the foursomes with a 3/1 win from Jelina Fernando and Chloe Court, and a comprehensive 8/7 win by Katherine Russell – whose putter was hot - and county champion Chelsea Masters.
In the singles Sophie Kennard and Aileen Greenfield both had comfortable 5/4 wins, while Jelina won 3/1 and Chelsea and Penny Brown both halved their matches.
Team captain Sue Todd said: “It was lovely to play against Essex again. They used to be in our region but we haven’t played them since 2009. It was a very friendly game.”
Tomorrow’s order of play: Buckinghamshire v Sussex; Essex v Nottinghamshire; Lancashire v Gloucestershire.
Nottinghamshire team image © Leaderboard Photography