Ladies Open Doubles 2016

21 Nov 2016

Malvern; Lea Van der Zwalmen and Izzy Duncan win the Ladies British Open Doubles at Malvern College - 20th November

Malvern College. Neptune British Ladies’ Doubles Championship


1st Round

  • L.Royan & E. Warren bt Rosie Watts & Hannah Lowe 15/2 15/0


  • L.Van Der Zwamen & I.Duncan bt L.Royan & E. Warren 15/1 15/1
  • G.Willis & E.Shenkman bt M.Blunt & G.Baillie-Hamilton 15/8 15/3
  • I.Thorneycroft & L.Gooding bt I.Blake & R.Jones 15/9 5/12
  • C.West & K.Hird beat I.Deakin & M.Broom 15/0 15/8


  • L.Van Der Zwamen & I.Duncan bt G.Willis & E.Shenkman 15/6 15/4
  • C.West & K.Hird beat I.Thorneycroft & L.Gooding 15/7 15/7


  • L.Van Der Zwamen & I.Duncan bt C.West & K.Hird 15/4 15/3 15/2

Plate final

  • I.Blake & R.Jones bt M.Elliott & G.Baillie-Hamilton 15/7 18/13

Lea Van der Zwalmen, Izzy Duncan and Tom Newman


Women’s world rackets champion Lea Van Der Zwalmen  and BBC cricket commentator Isabelle Duncan, the favourites, underlined their dominance as they took the Neptune British Women's Rackets Doubles Championship at Malvern College with an entertaining final victory over second seeds Chey West and Karen Hird. The event attracted a record entry of 9 pairs just 6 years after the College staged the first national women’s Rackets challenge, disproving the male traditionalists who insisted beforehand that rackets, the ancient forerunner of squash, was too explosive and dangerous for women to play.

Van Der Zwalmen and Duncan outhit Malvern College’s top schoolgirl pair Lisette Royan and Ella Warren in the quarter-final, giving the youngsters a master-class in aggressive volleying and miraculous retrieving. Warren 16, a gifted tennis and hockey player and Royan,17, a squash and badminton specialist had earlier put out the stylish Clifton College partnership of Rosie Watts and Hannah Lowe in straight games. The favourites then battled hard to overcome national schools champion Georgie Willis and Eve Shenkman, who rallied grittily. Van Der Zwalmen’s power and touch proved decisive however as the pairing eased through despite explosive hitting from their opponents.

In the other half of the draw, Chey West, Malvern College’s Director of Girl’s Sport, a former hockey international plus badminton international Karen Hird showed their extra experience as they powered to a dogged quarter-final win over India Deakin and Millie Broom, one of three pairs from Cheltenham College. They then took on the highly-fancied Wellingtonians Issy Thorneycroft and Lauren Gooding and fought back from an early deficit to reach the final 15-7 15-7. As expected the top seeds took an early lead thanks to Van De Zwalmen’s speed, weight of shot and big-match experience. Exquisite touch-play from Hird and West’s pick-ups and athleticism delighted the packed gallery but as Duncan found her stride, serving tightly to produce a string of unreturnable, skidding aces, the favourites moved further ahead, displaying impressive teamwork to record an emphatic win in three straight games. For Van Der Zwalmen it was a successful defence of the title she won last year with Chey West and gave Duncan her first national championship.

In the Plate final, India Blake and Rose Jones squeaked through a thrilling all-Cheltenham battle beating Martha Elliott and Georgie Baillie-Hamilton 15-7 18-13, all four players showing great promise for the future.

“I was delighted that the field of entrants more than doubled from last year,” said the elated Duncan.  “Malvern, Cheltenham, Clifton and Wellington College provided the bulk of the girls, with a senior presence from Queen’s Club and Oxford University.  I was lucky to partner Lea, the current world champion, to take us to the title. This all bodes well for the future of women’s rackets.”

“It was a great day for the women’s game,” added Tom Newman, Malvern College’s Master-in Charge of Rackets. “The standard this year was the highest ever in a women’s event with a string of enthralling matches. Huge congratulations to Lea who showed just why she’s the world champion – and to Isabelle on her first national rackets title. We’re also extremely proud of our Malvern players: Chey leading the way and inspiring so many of the youngsters – and our top schoolgirl pair Lisette and Ella who are improving all the time and learned a lot from their matches against some of the top players in the world. This will stand them in good stead for the National Schools Championships in December.”

Report by Sally Jones

Draw and Plate

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