TENNIS: Talented Rugby youngster helps Warwickshire to victory

Warwickshire Under 9s
Warwickshire Under 9s

Rugby Tennis Club’s Diya plays crucial role as Under 9s win West Midlands Junior County Cup


Diya Dhokia playing in the tournament at Edgbaston Priory

Diya Dhokia playing in the tournament at Edgbaston Priory

TEAM PICTURE: Warwickshire Under 9s (from left) Christina Pham (Sutton Coldfield), Aryan Mehta (Kenilworth), Diya Dhokia (Rugby), Team Captain James Roe (Kenilworth), Matthew Gardiner (Blossomfield, Solihull) Archie Delves-Payne (Leamington Spa), Alice Wilson-Marsh (Kenilworth), Sam Kingston (Kenilworth) and Lily-Ann Southwell (Edgbaston Priory).

Rising tennis star Diya Dhokia, 9, from Rugby Tennis Club played a crucial role in the Warwickshire Under 9 tennis team’s victory in the West Midlands Junior County Cup at Edgbaston Priory Club, beating Shropshire, Staffordshire and Hereford and Worcestershire on successive days. Diya earned her call-up after a string of fine results including overall victory in the prestigious Rugby Evening Classic Under 9 mixed championship earlier this season.

Captained by James Roe, Warwickshire’s 8-strong mixed team started strongly, beating Shropshire 8-1, winning the opening round of boys’ singles matches. Sam Kingston (Kenilworth) and Archie Delves-Payne (Leamington Tennis Club) each came back from a set down in their rubbers. Alice Wilson-Marsh (Kenilworth) then took her opening singles in straight sets before Diya battled gamely to win an epic 3-setter 8-6 in the decider. This secured overall victory before the doubles rubbers to give Warwickshire a flying start.

The county trailed 1-2 to Staffordshire after the three boys’ singles but Diya and Christina Pham (Sutton Coldfield) each cruised through their singles in straight sets. Alice Wilson-Marsh upset the form-books to beat nationally-ranked Under 9 Isabella Walker in a thrilling 3-setter. After Warwickshire lost both the boys and girls doubles, however, everything depended on the mixed rubber, but Archie Delves-Payne and Diya cantered through in style, 7-1 7-3 to secure a 5-4 win.

Diya Dhokia playing a powerful backhand shot

Diya Dhokia playing a powerful backhand shot

Group leaders Hereford and Worcestershire took the first two singles against Kenilworth boys Aryan Mehta and Sam Kingston in straight sets. However Matthew Gardiner (Blossomfield, Solihull) attacked ferociously to overcome unbeaten Theo Houston. Warwickshire girls including Diya won all three singles but when the county lost the boys’ and girls’ doubles, the tie was evenly poised at 4-4 with the Championship riding on the final mixed doubles. Gardiner again stepped up to the plate and he and Wilson-Marsh went for their shots boldly, outhitting their opposition 7-1 7-1, to secure the match and the Championship, to the delight of team captain James Roe, the Kenilworth head coach.

“I’m really proud of our youngsters,” he said. “They played their hearts out and battled away gutsily in the toughest situations with a smile on their faces. The match against Hereford and Worcester was super-close but our mixed doubles stars were our secret weapon, keeping their nerve and snatching the Championship in style. It bodes well for Warwickshire tennis to have such a good crop of youngsters coming through and from right across the county.”


Edgbaston Priory Club: West Midlands Under 9s Junior County Tennis Cup

Warwickshire beat Shropshire 8-1

Warwickshire beat Staffordshire 5-4

Warwickshire beat Hereford and Worcestershire 5-4 and take the Championship with three straight victories.

Runners-up Hereford and Worcestershire.