Ladies British Open Real Tennis

27 Apr 2011

Essex girls Claire and Sarah Vigrass contested a thriller in the British Open Women's Real Tennis final

Claire Vigrass, the world number 1 and her elder sister Sarah staged a thrilling battle in the final of the British Open Women's Real Tennis Championships at Seacourt. Although Claire, the top seed and holder of all four major titles, narrowly sneaked through after a cliff-hanger, Sarah came close to gaining a 5-4 second set lead and looks destined to push her sister all the way in next month's world championships in Australia. The pair who started playing as teenagers at the Prested Hall Club near their home at Inworth, have developed a game that combines power and grace.

Each eased through her semi-final despite distinguished opposition. Sarah faced the fluent veteran Penny Lumley, a 6-times World singles Champion but showed scant respect for her impressive pedigree, dispatching her 6-0 6-0. Although Penny coped well with the scorching volleys, she was too often on the back foot in the face of Sarah's thundering ground strokes and heavily-cut shots into the corners. In the other semi, the canny Karen Hird, once Claire's bogey player, put up a spirited fight but lacking her opponent's weight of shot or reach bowed out 6/1 6/1 amid a barrage of thumping volleys, forces and viciously cut ground strokes.

Claire, on paper the hot favourite, continued this imperious form in the opening set of the final in which both sisters hit with awesome power and cut, but Sarah was forced into a string of snatched errors as she fought to stay on terms with her opponent's focus and accuracy. Although she created a handful of chances, she only managed to convert them into one game,'losing the first set 1/6.

In the second set, though, Sarah's railroad serve started to take effect, and she took the initiative, forcing Claire into more errors through the clever use of angles off the walls. Sarah took the first 3 games, and looked on course for a fightback. However, Claire dug deep, cut out the errors, pulling back to 3 all and then 4 all. With Sarah leading 30-15, she drove a seemingly easy shot into the net. From then on, Claire took command, hitting a series of winners to an immaculate length to take the set and retain her British title 6/1 6/4.

One consolation for their rivals was that the Vigrasses missed out on a clean sweep of titles, when, the third seeds Karen Hird and Freddy Adam sensationally defeated them 6-5 in the deciding set of the doubles final, surviving a match point against them at 4-5 down.

Results: Seacourt, Hampshire British Women's Open Real Tennis Championship:

Singles Semi-finals: C.Vigrass bt K.Hird 6/1 6/1

S.Vigrass bt P.Lumley 6/0 6/0

Final: C.Vigrass bt S.Vigrass 6/1 6/4

Doubles Semi-finals:

C and S. Vigrass bt A.Greenwood and N.Doble 6/0 6/3

K.Hird and F.Adam bt P.Lumley and A.Garside 6/3 6/1

Final: K.Hird and F.Adam bt C and S. Vigrass 6/4 3/6 6/5

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