DORSET under-18 girls team showed their fighting spirit to stave off relegation in the latest stage of the Aegon County Cup in Devon.

With a solid record in the county cup, Dorset’s hopes of retaining their place in the group were high and thoughts of promotion were not too distant, writes Harry Lund. 

The Group 4A contest was against the hosts Devon, Berkshire and West Scotland at the Tarka Tennis Centre.

Dorset’s first challenge of the weekend was against Berkshire, one of the favourites to get promoted from the group. The team were up against it from the first point of the first match as Berkshire came flying out of the blocks and took an early lead.

Unfortunately for Dorset, by the time Danielle Sebata notched up the team’s first point with a 6-4, 6-0 win, the outcome had already been decided after Berkshire took an unassailable 5-1 lead.

Dorset didn’t fare any better in the doubles as their opponents continued their dominant display. The match finished 8-1 to Berkshire, leaving Dorset needing to regroup before their next match.

After the disappointment of the opening match, Dorset put in a spirited performance against the other promotion hopefuls in the group, Devon.

The team’s battling qualities showed in the singles as they claimed a trio of three-set victories thanks to Anna Battersby, Natalie Carter and Hannah Murphy.

The scores were level at 3-3 going into the doubles and the team were within touching distance of the win after Battersby and Hannah Gamage won the first doubles rubber 6-2, 6-2 to out Dorset 4-3 up.

But it was not to be their day as the opposition’s quality shone through in the remaining two rubbers. Devon claimed a narrow 5-4 win, meaning Dorset needed to win against West Scotland in their final match to keep their place in the group.

Dorset came out fighting on the last morning against West Scotland.

Four wins from six singles matches, including another three-set epic from Murphy, meant the team needed just one win from the final three doubles rubbers to clinch the tie.

The vital win was delivered at the first time of asking as Battersby and Gamage successfully combined again for a 6-1, 6-4 win in the first doubles.

West Scotland played for pride in the final two rubbers and showed some of the ability with two wins to make the final score 5-4 to Dorset.

Dorset: Hannah Gamage, Hannah Murphy, Anna Battersby, Natalie Carter, Mille Smythe, Danielle Sebata, Mollie Parsons, Elle Baker.