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Ladies World Challenge 2017

May 07, 2017
Wellington: Lea Van der Zwalmen beat Georgie Willis in straight games


The 2017 World Challenge was hosted in style by Ryan Tulley at Wellington College. Two groups of four battled it out on Saturday, producing excellent quality Rackets in each of the matches. Ladies Rackets is no longer a short rally affair; the eight players, all who have achieved success in the last 12 months, produced some close matches.

In Group A, Isabelle Duncan survived a tense opening match again Rose Jones (Cheltenham), the Under 18 Champion, just holding her nerve in a three-game thriller. Isabelle had an equally tight match against Lauren Gooding (Wellington), the Under 16 Champion to secure her place in Sunday's eliminator. She had despatched Elizabeth Dolan (NARA) along the way. Rose and Lauren both had the edge over their American rival, but it was Rose who beat Lauren to finish a valiant second in the group. The standard of all four players kept the gallery entertained.

Group B saw British Open Finalist, Georgie Willis, take on three high flying schoolgirls. After losing the first game against India Deakin (Cheltenham), she tightened her game to win the next two games and the match. Georgie beat the other two girls, Issie Thorneycroft (Wellington) and Martha Elliot (Cheltenham) rather more convincingly to reach the eliminator. India overcame the disappointment of her opening match to beat Issie and Martha and finish a close second in the group. Issie and Martha played out a tight three game thriller, with victory for the Wellington youngster. The afternoon matches underlined the ever rising standard of Ladies Rackets, with a series of exciting matches which went to the wire.

The two group winners played an exciting final eliminator on Sunday morning, for the prize of taking on the World Champion. Isabelle Duncan started well but Georgie's more steady game was too much in the end. With a powerful service gaining many points, Georgie edged ahead and closed out the first game 15/6. The second game was very much more of the same, with Isabelle responding well but Georgie able to put away the winners. Sadly the match was over too quickly as there were many splendid rallies to showcase their strengths, but Georgie slowly but surely closed out the second game 15/2, and the match.

The grand finale was a repeat of the Ladies British Open and proved to be every bit as good a spectacle. Georgie started very well indeed, taking the first two points of the match, with deep penetrating serves. However, Lea showed why she is the current champion, taking the serve back with a brilliant return and then slowly went about building a lead of her own. Lea didn't get everything her own way, with Georgie playing some heavily cut, and well placed, shots - but Lea was rarely beaten. Lea's shot making remained at its sublime standard as she slowly closed out the first game 15/2.

The second game was probably the tightest, as Georgie was determined to demonstrate her own skills. However, the better Georgie played only seemed to inspire Lea further. Both ladies were now returning well, but Lea had the greater depth and width, adding a powerful forehand to her arsenal of shots - her backhand always a joy to watch (unless you are her opponent). After a lengthy rally, Lea's high backhand volley took the point, placing the ball deep into the forehand corner - and unplayable. The gallery was packed and applauded loudly, but Lea soon established a two game lead, winning the second game 15/5.

The third and what was the final game was won by Lea in style but Georgie played her part. Some fine rallies generally went Lea's way, but Georgie put away some perfectly placed interceptions to repeatedly recover the service. But Lea was now closing in on the defence of her title and soon reached championship point. A fabulous rally to finish the match was a telling tribute to both ladies; although Lea inevitably won the point, the game 15/2 and the match.

At the end, the gallery burst into applause in appreciation of the efforts of both ladies. For Lea, a second World Championship; for Georgie, a tremendous match. Ladies Rackets continues to push the boundaries of the sport, ably demonstrated by the efforts of the schoolgirls from Wellington and Cheltenham. Chris Davies, T&RA Chief Executive presented the prizes, applauding the ladies for a fine demonstration of top class Rackets, graciously thanking the sponsor, Neptune Investment Management, and Pol Roger for the wonderful champagne. He also paid tribute to Ryan Tulley for his outstanding contribution to managing and running the championship; and to Freddy Adam, who once again provided very watchable streaming to further promote the sport.

Lea Van der Zwalmen - World Champion - Top of the world


Challenge Match

  • Lea Van der Zwalmen bt Georgie Willis 15/2 15/5 15/2 Watch match

Final Eliminator

  • Georgie Willis bt Isabelle Duncan 15/6 15/2 Watch match

Group A

  • Isabelle Duncan bt Rose Jones 15/7 13/15 15/12 Watch match
  • Lauren Gooding bt Elizabeth Dolan 15/5 15/4 Watch match
  • Isabelle Duncan bt Elizabeth Dolan 15/4 15/10 Watch match
  • Rose Jones bt Lauren Gooding 15/8 15/11 Watch match
  • Rose Jones bt Elizabeth Dolan 15/7 15/3 Watch match
  • Isabelle Duncan bt Lauren Gooding 15/10 15/10 Watch match

Group B

  • Georgie Willis bt India Deakin 17/18 15/4 15/2 Watch match
  • Issie Thorneycroft bt Martha Elliott 11/15 15/8 15/12 Watch match
  • India Deakin bt Issie Thorneycroft 15/13 15/3 Watch match
  • India Deakin bt Martha Elliott 15/3 15/8 Watch match
  • Georgie Willis bt Martha Elliott 15/5 15/5 Watch match
  • Georgie Willis bt Issie Thorneycroft 15/1 15/2 Watch match

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