CAPTAIN Jean Waring will use all nine of Yorkshire’s squad today when they get their bid to retain their Northern Counties Match Week title underway at Sandiway GC, in Cheshire.
They will play three morning foursomes matches and six singles against opening opponents Durham and could, technically, use the same six players for both sessions.
However, Ripon City member Waring – who will officially have to declare her line-up 45 minutes before action gets underway - wants all her players to end the day with some match experience of this year’s event under their belt.
“I could play the same girls, but my strategy is to get everybody playing on the first day,” said the captain. “If someone’s sitting out on the first day they are itching to get going, then they feel more pressure when they do play, so everyone will play on the first day.”
Following final preparations at Sandburn GC, which were aided by the team’s coach, Steve Robinson, Waring selected her foursomes pairings.
“I’ve got them all worked out in my mind with options if any of them don’t gel as well as I think they should,” she said. “I have my strategy all laid out, but lots of ‘ifs’ and ‘wells’ can change things, and it depends how we get on (in the opening match).”
Yorkshire’s pedigree in the competition is outstanding: they had won it nine times up to 2004 and then reeled off five successive championships. After a one-year hiatus, further victories were annexed in 2010, 2013 and last year.
The White Rose team is much-changed from the last of those victories and the emphasis is firmly on youth – all but two are in their teens and one of the exceptions, Woodsome Hall’s Rochelle Morris, only turned 20 last week.
Two years after joining Yorkshire’s executive, Waring began assisting with the inter-club matches and then took over as junior organiser, a role she held for six years, accompanying the players in competitions all over the country.
“I know them very well and they know me,” Waring said of her players. “Some of the juniors call me Auntie Jean and tell me all sorts of things. We have a very good relationship.
“I loved being with the juniors because you see them starting, you see how they develop their skills, and how their confidence grows.
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“I walked round with Rochelle (Yorkshire women’s champion last year) in her first county event. It was raining, she wasn’t very happy, but she kept going right to the end. She was only 10 and it wasn’t a very nice course, but it didn’t deter her. She works really hard on her game, as do all the girls. To get to a low handicap is hard, but to keep it low is tougher still.”
Six other executive members were appointed as co-selectors and they watched the candidates for the squad on various occasions and at the Yorkshire championship.
“It was really difficult, and the two that I had to ask to be reserves, it was more that there was no choice between the last four. I felt so sorry for them,” said the captain, reflecting on what she describes as “the worst part of the job”.
She continued: “It is so disappointing when you’ve worked so hard all winter, and you’re playing well and chipping well, but you’ve got to learn from that disappointment and say ‘Right, you made a mistake, I’m going to make you pick me next time’.”
Huge emphasis is placed on short game strength. “Their driving is excellent, no problem there; you’ve got to hone the short game skills,” said Waring. “That’s how matches are won; you chip it close to the hole and your opposition have to give it to you.”
She will be accompanied at Sandiway by her vice captain, Dawn Clegg, and county President Heather Cawdry, who is in the middle of her three-year term, plus an army of volunteers who will pull the players’ trolleys.
The team looking to both retain their crown and go forward to the English championship is Olivia Hamilton and Megan Clarke (both Cleckheaton), Fulford’s Charlotte Austwick, Megan Lockett (Huddersfield), Holly Morgan, of Lees Hall, Hannah Holden (Lightcliffe), Rotherham’s Olivia Winning, Megan Garland (Selby), and Morris.
Non-travelling reserves for the event, which runs for five days from today, are Lucy Eaton (Skipton) and Morris’s clubmate at Woodsome Hall, Melissa Wood.
After facing Durham today, Yorkshire will take on Cumbria, Cheshire, Lancashire and Northumberland in successive days.