Saffron helps Sussex to national title

The victorious Sussex under-12 tennis team with Saffron Dowse far right
The victorious Sussex under-12 tennis team with Saffron Dowse far right

A Bexhill tennis starlet helped her county win a national competition for the first time ever.

Saffron Dowse, 12, was part of the four-strong Sussex team which clinched the Aegon 12U County Cup.

The national finals were held in Bolton over three days, and Sussex won their group by beating Hertfordshire, North Wales and Lancashire to set up a final against the mighty Warwickshire.

Sonay Kartal and Dowse at one and two both won their matches against higher rated and higher ranked opponents in tie-break sets. The number three rubber was lost, but Sussex won the doubles for a 3-1 victory.

A special mention must be made of the team captain Lydia Hammond, who mentored the girls and played a huge role in the success.

Sussex had qualified for the national finals by winning the regional round in Chichester a fortnight earlier, beating the likes of Surrey and Kent.

Dowse, who is coached by Luke Milligan, went directly from Bolton to the National IAPS Tennis Finals at Eton College.

Having worked her way through the group stages and huge main draw to the final of the under-14 event, she was just pipped for a second national title.

Earlier in the year, Dowse - a pupil at Eastbourne-based independent school Bede’s - also played for Sussex in the Aegon 14U County Cup.

Sussex won their regional group at the National Tennis Centre in Roehampton and came third overall at the national finals in Nottingham.