Rackets

Neptune Ladies Rackets British Open 2015

21 Feb 2015

Lea Van der Zwalmen wins Ladies British Open


Draw

Runner-up Georgie Willis, Champion Lea Van der Zwalmen, Howard Angus and Tim Cockroft

Final

  • L.V-D-Zwalmen bt G.Willis 15/6 15/3 15/3

Semi-finals

  • L.V-D-Zwalmen bt C.Bawden 15/1 15/0
  • G.Willis bt E.Gaskall 15/9 15/17 15/8

Old Court

  • 9.30 L.V-D-Zwalmen bt G.Willis 15/4 15/4
  • 10.00 K.Milliken- Smith bt K.Robertson 15/1 15/0
  • 10.30  L.V-D-Zwalmen bt A.Ruxton 15/0 15/0
  • 11.00 G.Willis bt K.Milliken-Smith 15/1 15/6
  • 11.30 A.Ruxton bt K.Robertson 15/6 15/2
  • 12.00  L.V-D-Zwalmen bt K.Milliken-Smith 15/1 15/0
  • 1.00 G.Willis bt A.Ruxton 15/0 15/1
  • 1.30 G Willis bt K.Robertson 15/0 15/0
  • 2.00 K.Milliken-Smith bt A.Ruxton 15/8 15/11
  • 2.30 L.V-D-Zwalmen bt K.Robertson 15/1 15/0

Bridgeman Court

  • 9.30 E.Gaskall bt C.Bawden 15/4 15/3
  • 10.00 C.West bt F.Dalby 15/11 15/7
  • 10.30 C Bawden bt O.Cockroft 15/4 15/8
  • 11.00 E.Gaskall bt F.Dalby 15/4 15/6
  • 11.30 C.West bt O.Cockroft 15/5 15/7
  • 12.00 C Bawden bt  F.Dalby 15/10 15/12
  • 1.00 E.Gaskall bt C.West 15/11 15/12
  • 1.30 F.Dalby bt O.Cockroft 15/4 15/4
  • 2.00 C.Bawden bt C.West 15/10 13/15 15/5
  • 2.30 E.Gaskall bt O.Cockroft 15/4 15/4

In the four previous years that the Neptune Ladies Rackets British Open has been held, it has been won convincingly by Claire Vigrass, who has been able to adapt her great skills on the Real Tennis court to produce attractive, effective play on the rackets court that the other contestants have not been able to match.  But this year Claire (now Fahey, since her marriage to Rob last year) was unable to enter as she is in America playing in the US Open Tennis.  Another player not entered this time was Alex Brodie (nee Kurkjian), having recently had a baby.  Without Alex’s tireless enthusiasm and commitment to fostering Ladies Rackets, this British Open would almost certainly not have got off the ground in the way it has, nor built up the momentum that is now unstoppable.

The 2015 Championship had 10 entrants, two Groups of five each, playing round robin matches in the morning, with the top 2 players in each group progressing to the semi-finals, and the next two in each group going into the Plate semi-finals. In Group A Lea Van der Zwamen, the 2014 winner of the Judy Angus Cup for the Senior Schoolgirls’ Championship, and Georgie Willis, the 2014 runner-up in the Beryl Danby Cup for the Under 16 Schoolgirls’ Championship, met in the first group match of the day, and produced some wonderful rallies full of elegant strokes. However Lea served so well that Georgie was kept on the defensive most of the time, with Lea’s copy-book backhand bringing many fine cross-court winners, to the delight of the gallery.  Lea won 15/4, 15/4, but the score belies the quality of the play, and as Georgie comfortably won her other three group matches, she went through into the bottom-half semi-final to play Ella Gaskell, who won all her matches in Group B without conceding a game, though her victory over Chey West, from the staff of Malvern College, was one of the closest games in Group B. Charlie Bawden from Marlborough beat Chey in the only group match to go to a deciding game, and as a result took second position in Group B, thereby entering the top-half semi, to play Lea.  

Chey went into the Plate Final with a win over Ashleigh Ruxton, and there met Fay Dalby, who beat Kate Milliken-Smith in the other Plate semi-final in the closest match of the whole day, 18/13 in the deciding game. Chey then won the Plate final 15/6 15/4.

In the first semi-final of the main event Lea was too strong in all department for Charlie Bawden, winning 2 games to 0, for the loss of only one point, but the other semi-final was a really exciting contest. Georgie took the first game 15/9, and seemed to be coasting home when she went 13-6 up in the second, only for Ella to fight back with commendable determination in a series of hands, saving a match point at 11-14, and winning the game in set to three, 17/15.  Again in the deciding game Georgie built up a commanding lead, reaching 9-0, but slowly Ella crept back to 8-13, and Georgie seemed close to losing her composure.  However Georgie managed to get back in hand, served a winner to go to her second match point, which she won, thereby earning another tilt at Lea in the final.

As in their group match at the start of the day, in the concluding best-of-5 games final, Lea and Georgie treated the gallery to a hugely enjoyable display of rackets, even if Lea was nearly always on top.   Lea won 15/6, 15/3, 15/3, and in presenting the prizes, former World Doubles Champion, and Queen’s Chairman, Tim Cockroft, said that in his opinion Lea’s backhand was technically as good a stroke as he had seen in the last 20 years of watching the Schools’ Championships, girls’ and boys’!

Howard Angus, who had helped mark the matches during the day, thanked the Queen’s Club for hosting the tournament, and especially thanked Robin Geffen and Neptune for their sponsorship of the Event.

An extra word of thanks should also go to Katie Robertson, from the T&RA Office at Centenary House, for her very efficient organisation of the Championships, with added commendation for also entering the Event herself – and making clear progress during the course of the day in that daunting hurdle for brand new rackets players, taking the serves!!

Howard Angus

 

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