National Finals 2012

Oxfordshire Mens C

Oxfordshire ‘C’ headed down to Selsey with high hopes of going one stage further than last year and winning the tournament. We got off to a good start against an East London team that lost in the semi’s last year, running out 14 – 8 winners.

We came out of the traps fast on Saturday morning, winning back-to-back sessions against Derbyshire ‘C’ (14 – 7) and Bristol C2 (14 – 5).

Having already qualified for the semi-finals with a game to spare, we relaxed a little (maybe too much) against Warwickshire C2 going 5 – 8 down before winning 9 out of the next 10 frames to run out 14 – 9 winners.

We had a tough semi-final fixture against a very vocal Berkshire team (last time we played them they smashed us 9 -18) but we took contol from the off and quickly established a lead, winning the first leg 7 – 2. We then traded frame for frame and ran out 14 – 8 winners.

A game against another of our regional rivals, Hampshire C, awaited us in the final. A very nervy, tight first leg saw us go 5 – 4 up. And then it went wrong. Horribly wrong. Lady luck evaded us. We started missing the dishes that we had been taking out all weekend. We lost the 2nd leg 1 – 8 and it looked a long way back. We were quiet. Fighting a losing battle, we won 3 frames in a row before Hampshire sunk the winning black.

For the players who were in the squad 12 months ago, it was a very painful reminder of how quickly it can go from good to bad.

A huge thank you to everyone who supported us throughout the entire weekend (Phil and Karima your support was amazing).

All in all, another cracking weekend with fantastic pool, fantastic banter within the team and a great togetherness. Team spirit can get you a long way. My man of the tournament award goes to Frankie Merola. Some terrific pool within the group stages, some outrageous dishes and a good laugh to play with. Unlucky it didnt go for him in the final, but he couldnt win all of them could he?!

Well in C team. Let’s have it next year.

Oxfordshire Ladies A

Oxfordshire ladies had a very successful year this year making it to the semi-finals and breaking records with an unheard-of 11-0 win against Bristol!

Our first match was against Hampshire B, who we struggled against during the season, but had beaten them in order to qualify for Selsey so hopes were high. We won the first leg 4-3 before winning 7 out of the next 9 frames for a comfortable win 11-5. 2 out of 2 for Jaz, Claire and Carrie. Next was last year’s champions, Derbyshire A1. It started badly for Oxford, losing the first leg 6-1 and the next 2 frames to make us 8-1 down. After a (slightly sarcastic!) comment from Nicki that “we were fine, we only need to win 10 out of the next 12 frames”, we picked up speed, got our heads on and won 10 out of the next 11 frames to win the match 11-9! Fantastic result and great team spirit with 3 out of 3 from Carrie and 2 out of 3 from Katie, Jaz and Claire left Oxfordshire on a high!

After a good night’s sleep (ahem) we had Bristol at 9am Saturday morning. Bristol had always proved to be a tough team in the past, but not so for this year’s Oxfordshire ladies team! The wins just kept coming and the team atmosphere was sky high, meaning that we didn’t lose a frame and got an unprecedented 11-0 win! We didn’t even need to write the names down for the third leg as we were finished halfway through the second! 2 out of 2 for Katie and Jaz, and 1 out of 1 for… well… everyone else! Next was Essex, which was a well-fought but slightly disappointing 11-10 loss, with a lot of luck against Oxfordshire and some slightly frustrating frames where balls would be flying round the table from some slightly inexperienced Essex players! A great performance from Katie with 3 out of 3 and 2 out of 3 for Carrie and V. This took us to our last group match versus Staffordshire A2, who were joint with us on points but second on frame difference. It was not mathematically possible for either of us not to go through to the knock-out stages so it was a fight just for top spot in the group. Oxfordshire ladies again showed amazing team spirit and had a great atmosphere to win it 11-5 and top the group for the first time in Oxfordshire ladies’ history! 2 out of 2 from Nicki, Hannah and Katie.

So Sunday saw the semi-final against Staffordshire A1, a tough team. We had a slightly shakey start, losing the first leg 4-3. However we all got behind each other again and showed Oxfordshire’s class by winning the next leg 5-2, and 2 of the next 3 frames to make the score 10-7 to Oxford. Unfortunately it wasn’t to be this year though, and we lost 11-10 to a strong Staffordshire A1 team (including a fluked black against Katie!). 3 out of 3 for Nicki and 2 out of 3 for Jaz and Charli.

We will be back next year in the same spirit and will hopefully go one step further, if not all the way! A great time was had by all and the team really gelled and got behind each other, which was great to see. Congratulations to Katie Challen for topping the stats with 79%, and to Nicki and Lorraine for both getting to the last 16 of the singles. Bring on next year!