Invitation Singles 2017

Updated: 06 Dec 2017
Published: 26 Nov 2017

Tom Billings retains his Invitation Singles title.

This is the first Qualifying Tournament of the new Qualifying Period

Invitation Singles 2017

Both players headed into the final unbeaten after topping their respective groups. Tom dropped one game on his way through to the final in a game against Nick Hopcroft, while Alex had played his way into form after a tricky opening match against Alex Duncliffe-Vines where he came back from a 0-2 deficit. Tom Billings convincingly beat James Coyne in the first of the semi finals on Saturday, while Alex overcame Nick Hopcroft 3-1 in his semi final, recovering from a quick start by Nick.

Tom was quick out of the blocks with aces coming from both sides of the service box. His forehand serve length in particular was not allowing Alex into many rallies. Billings built an 8-4 lead with Alex looking as if he was growing into the game after some poor errors to begin with, but Billings was ran away with the game without dropping a further point with some great retrieving, out-rallying Alex at time.

Alex began the second game in fine form, finding his length of the serve and keeping the points a lot shorter with some impressive killing on the forehand side. Certainly the Alex of old. Alex was clearly unable move as freely as he would like following his knee surgery in the Summer, so keeping the points short and staying on the attack was what was needed if he was to give himself a chance in this final. Alex was in command at 12-3, dictating most points and Billings was unable to deal with Alex’s power. However Billings got into the service box at 3-12 and started clawing his way back into the game through a mixture of strong serving and some loose mistakes from Alex whose footwork began to deteriorate. Tom, moving extremely well began killing the ball to a perfect length off the backwall as Alex had begun overhitting in an effort to put the ball away. Tom lost his service once on his way to winning that game 15/12, finishing the game off with an excellent double backhand winner through the side walls, with a big fist pump to follow!

The final game was a one sided affair. The game reached 5 all before Billings went on another length run to take the game 15/5. Alex was frustrated with some of his racquet handling errors but having had such a long spell injured this was always going to be an incredibly difficult test.

This was the first qualifying tournament towards the ‘World Challenge Ranking Points’ which means Tom has taken an early lead in this 2 year rankings cycle which would ultimately give him an opportunity to re-challenge Stout were he to remain there. Howard Angus was on hand to present the trophy to Billings who has now won back-to-back Invitation titles.

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