WILMSLOW High School girls' changing area for the national tennis finals in Nottingham would have resembled a hospital ward.

But the walking wounded did themselves and the school proud as they finished eighth in the Aberdare Cup and achieved creditable recognition of their approach to the tournament in the process.

By the time of the final day's play Wilmslow only had one uninjured player still standing but the girls courageously battled on to the finish.

The school's departing physical education teacher Fiona Kelsall, who accompanied the squad for the four days of competition, reflected: "Despite our disappointment, we did however receive one accolade from the tournament officials who voted us the nicest team to deal with as we were always cheerful and smiling and never caused them any problems!"

The squad of Olivia French, Ellie Aldrich, Jess Purdy, Laura Jackson and Alice Kraunsoe started their journey to the finals in March when they defeated Queens School, Chester, six matches to nil.

Four matches later they reached the national finals in Nottingham as winners of their group, joining 15 other area winners from around the country.

The first day's play brought wet weather and the team were moved from indoor court to indoor court and only managed to complete half a match against Culford School, Suffolk.

Play resumed the following morning and Wilmslow won 5-1.

Kelsall said: "This meant we were in the top eight, as teams could move either backwards or forwards in the draw."

On the same afternoon Wilmslow played Bournemouth's Talbot Heath School, a strong team with a number of their students qualifying for Junior Wimbledon.

"They proved too good for us and after they had won all four singles we were instructed to stop play so more matches could take place," added Kelsall.

"We can gain some consolation from the fact that they won the entire competition!"

The following day Wilmslow faced Somerset's Millfield School, with the hard courts having started to take their toll.

Purdy and Jackson both injured their shins, French her shoulder and Aldrich, who was forbidden to play by the LTA physio, her hamstring and hip.

"This made play very difficult but we tried hard," said Kelsall.

Jackson lost her singles in a very long match that went to a tiebreak, French won hers, and she and Kraunsoe lost a close first-pair doubles.

"Unfortunately, the loss of Ellie made a big difference and I suspect we could have won with her availability," said Kelsall.

Only one player remained uninjured for the final day against Repton School from Derby, with the rest taking to the court covered in medical tape.

"It made our task somewhat of an uphill battle," said Kelsall.

"As Ellie had been instructed not to compete this meant everyone moved up a position in the order of play.

"Alice, age 12, made her singles debut at number 4 and gave a most creditable performance against a girl two years older and with a higher rating, only losing 12-10 in a championship tie break.

"Conditions were difficult with a strong, swirling wind and this, combined with the ability of our opponents, proved too much for our ailing team!

"We lost all four singles and consequently the match, resulting in eighth place."

Kelsall concluded: "The girls should be very proud of reaching these finals, for the fourth year running, particularly when we are one of the very few state schools who are able to compete at this level."