“My expectations for this year’s ICT (Inter County Tournament) were very high after having enjoyed one of the best badminton experiences in my career last year…
Having arrived at Nottingham University on the Wednesday afternoon, Sussex Team (top 5 boys – including 2 England players – & top 5 girls in the County) had been drawn into a box of 4 for the first round.
Our first match was on Thursday against Northumberland, and seeded as the top county in the group the pressure was on. I played singles at number 2 and having started cold I lost to a higher ranked player. Eager to improve I then played in the number 2 doubles and won that 15-5 15-8. Sussex won that match 9-1 (each match consists of 2 boys & 2 girls singles, 2 boys & 2 girls doubles, 2 mixed).
The next match was against Hertfordshire, in this match I only played in the second doubles, against a tough pair we went to win the first set 15-11 and then a very tense last set 16-14 with some very long rallies. I’m glad to say I played much better and Sussex went to win the match 8-2.
Our final game of the day, at 9pm, was against Oxfordshire which had a very tough set of boys. I was put in a second singles where I was playing yet again a much higher ranked boy, though unsurprisingly I lost it in two but still gave him a run for his money. Sussex beat Oxfordshire 7-3 and by the end of Thursday we finished top of our box.
With the first round matches played, the counties are then placed into a round 2 box with other counties that finished in similar position in their round 1 groups.
On Friday my parents made the effort to come up and support the team! Sussex’s first match was against Cornwall. I played second doubles again where me and my partner ran out as winners in our match 15-10 15-13. After a good team performance Sussex won 9-1.
The next match was against Dorset. Playing second singles against a higher ranked player, I won the first set 15-13, then after a brief blip in the second set I lost 12-15. Heading into the third set I was pretty tired, however at one stage I was 14-8 up. Only needing a point, my opponent fought back so suddenly that the score was 14-14. Thankfully I managed to get to the end winning 16-14. An upset caused! Carrying momentum I won the second boys doubles, 15-10, 15-9. Sussex won 9-1 again.
Going head to head with Berkshire who was our main rivals, I was played second singles against an England player who won an international competition in singles earlier in the year. Feeling no pressure I played the best I had done yet, but lost the first set 15-10. Into the second set I was leading all the way until 14-12 where quite a crowd was forming around our court, much to my team’s amusement! However I eventually lost 18-16, though I was very shattered by this point on Friday. Unfortunately Sussex lost 6-4, meaning we would be playing for positions 5-8 in our final box. Saturday was going to be a hard day!
We first played Derbyshire who were very strong, overall Sussex lost on sets with the match at 5-5, which was gutting. Next up was Lancashire where things didn’t start well with our England player getting beaten in singles by a person called Tom Hatton, (a long lost cousin?). Playing second singles I lost 15-11 and 15-12 when I was leading all the way until 12. I then lost my doubles to similar scores, but I still felt like was I was playing well.
Our last match was on the Sunday against Warwickshire where I just played in the second doubles pairing with a current England player which was a great experience. By the time it reached my game Warwick were winning 5-4 so the pressure was high, however playing well, me and my partner won 15-11 15-11, and we won on sets for once beating Warwickshire.
Overall in the competition Sussex finished 7th out of 35 counties losing by a set to Warwick (which was ironic) a brilliant achievement.
In the main hall where I played the majority of matches, the atmosphere is phenomenal, with air horns, whistles and drum kits going off every second, you cannot hear yourself think on court. An atmosphere that I won’t encounter again I’m sure. Aside from the badminton my team played pool and walked around campus in our spare time, which was good. I found out I wasn’t very good at pool!”
– Daniel Hatton