Brown Advisory Ladies Rackets Open Doubles Championships 2018
Junior golf international Lauren Gooding, 17 and hockey star Issie Thorneycroft, 16, from Wellington College became the youngest-ever winners of the Brown
Advisory British Women's Rackets Doubles Championships at Malvern College after an entertaining final against the top Cheltenham College pair India
Deakin and Abbie Whybrow. The event attracted a record entry including 7 pairs from Cheltenham, an Old Cheltonian pairing plus competitors from Wellington
and Clifton College. Gooding and Thorneycroft, the national schoolgirls Under 16 doubles champions in 2017, powered through both their opening matches
thanks to their extra experience and weight of shot, though Clifltonians Flora McHattie and Katya Saint produced some spirited exchanges. Old Cheltonians
India Blake and Georgie Gunn retrieved well against them in the semi-finals but failed to cope with Goodingâ€™s tight serving on the crucial points.
The second seeds India Deakin and Abbie Whybrow survived a closer semi-final battle against last yearâ€™s plate winner Fionnuala Dowling-Membrado and
her new partner Molly Clarke but just edged them out in two high-quality games.
In the final Gooding and Thorneycroft went for their shots from the opening rallies and took the first game with some accomplished volleys. Deakin and Whybrow fought back strongly to level at a game apiece, thanks to Deakinâ€™s strategic use of the angles but once Gooding found her length on her serve, the second seeds were always on the back foot. Thorneycroft produced some explosive hitting in the fourth game well backed up by the elegant Gooding and they closed out the match in style 15-11 15-9.
This was the first time a schoolgirl pair had taken the prestigious championship and despite the absence of womenâ€™s world champion Lea Van der Zwalmen, a squash international who is currently sidelined with injury, the overall standard looked higher than ever.
â€œIt was a real thrill to take the title,â€ said Lauren Gooding, who recently led Wellington to the British Schools womenâ€™s golf championship. â€œOur rackets teacher Mr Tulley has been giving us lots of coaching and encouragement and itâ€™s also useful that we get the chance to play against boys in matches and practice sessions.â€
â€œIâ€™m very proud of them,â€ said Wellington College rackets professional Ryan Tulley. â€œThey have so many different activities going on â€“ lots of sport plus school drama and music and of course a demanding academic schedule â€“ so itâ€™s great to see their enthusiasm and willingness to keep working on their rackets. This win should boost their confidence for the forthcoming senior schools doubles championship at Queenâ€™s Club.â€
â€œRackets is a strategic, explosive game,â€ added Noel Brett, Malvern College rackets master â€œand pretty tough physically. I was really impressed by the very good technique on show. High-quality rackets demands quick reflexes and fast footwork, and many of the top players â€“ girls and boys - excel at other sports like hockey, golf, squash and athletics. The Plate final was a hard-fought, all-Cheltenham affair and it was great to see everyone playing with smiles on their faces. We pioneered womenâ€™s rackets here back in 2010 but thereâ€™s a real sense that the gameâ€™s now coming of age with growing numbers of women and girls taking it up.â€
Congratulations to the Wellington pair.
- Lauren Gooding & Issie Thorneycroft bt India Deakin & Abbie Whybrow 15/4 6/15 15/11 15/9
- Lauren Gooding & Issie Thorneycroft bt Tilly Wood & Lilly Sutton 15/1 15/3
- India Deakin & Abbie Whybrow bt Molly Clarke & Fionnuala Dowling-Membrado 15/7 15/8
- Lauren Gooding & Issie Thorneycroft bt Annabel Wells & Freya Coull 15/0 15/2
- Tilly Wood & Lilly Sutton bt Georgie Gunn & India Blake 15/5 15/3
- India Deakin & Abbie Whybrow bt Annie Carter & Gabby Bifulco 15/1 15/1
- Molly Clarke & Fionnuala Dowling-Membrado bt Izzy England & Izzy Reid 15/0 15/7
- Annabel Wells & Freya Coull bt Katya Saint & Flora McHattie 15/1 15/4
- Annie Carter & Gabby Bifulco bt Hannah Wood & Emily Heardman 15/1 15/0
- Tilly Wood & Lilly Sutton bt Izzy England & Izzy Reid 15/2 15/9