Rackets

Neptune Ladies World Challenge 23rd-24th May 2015

24 May 2015

The Queen's Club, Sunday 24th May 2015, sponsored by Neptune Investment Management. Lea van der Zwalmen beat Claire Fahey to become the first ever Ladies World Champion.


The Eliminators

Results

Saturday 23rd May 

  • Alex Brodie bt Georgie Willis 18/16 17/16
  • Amanda Avedissian bt Alex Brodie 15/1 15/3
  • Georgie Willis bt Amanda Avedissian 7/15 17/16 17/15

Amanda Avedissian goes forward on number of games won (3)

Final Eliminator

Sunday 24th May 

    • Lea Van der Zwalmen bt Amanda Avedissian 15/5 15/3
 

After sharing the first four points in a tense opening exchange, it was Lea who found her length, both with a series of carefully placed serves and  driving backhand winners, establishing a commanding 12-2 lead. Amanda fought back to 5-12, and seemed to find a response to her opponents devastating service. But the lead was just too much, with Lea taking a point from each of the next two hands to win 15/5.

Amanda, as the sole representative from North America, was at a disadvantage dealing with the British two serve rule, but she battled on. She established a narrow lead in the second game 3-2, but this was short-lived. Lea hit a series of crisp winners to lead 9-2. Amanda fought hard, but points were becoming more and more difficult as Lea closed out the game in the next three hands, 15/3. A dominating performance from the young British Open Champion, which set up an exciting encounter with Real Tennis legend, Claire Fahey.

Action from the Final Eliminator

World Championship Final

  • Lea Van der Zwalmen beat Claire Fahey 16/14 15/12 10/15 15/9

Lea and Claire in a tightest of matches

This match was the anticipated outcome of the earlier Challenge series and what a match it proved to be. Two outstanding athletes on top of their games; Claire, World Tennis Champion and Ladies British Rackets Open winner 2011-14, and Lea, Under 19 Squash Champion and winner of the Ladies British Open 2015. In fact, these are the only two names on the trophy since its inception in 2011. To add to the electric atmosphere, neither had played the other in a competitive match before today - so the scene was very much set.

The first game saw both players immediately at the top of their games; Claire moving with speed and agility, striking the ball with raw power, and Lea anticipating her opponent's moves and hitting heavily cut backhand winners from seemingly everywhere on the court. There was never more than a couple of points between them; first Lea, then Claire, then Lea again, But it was Claire who held a slight advantage, reaching 12-10 and then 13-12, and called a set to three as Lea levelled again. Lea carried the serve and took the first two points before missing game ball. Claire cut the deficit to 1-2 but Lea didn't waste her first opportunity to take the first tight game 16/14.

Into the second game, and both ladies traded shots. Claire quickly took back the serve and opened a narrow 2-0 lead. Lea responded to claw ahead 3-2 before Claire again stamped her authority, serving accurately to the back-wall and opened a 7-3 lead. A new ball saw Lea back in the box, and five points later she was again ahead 8-7 - another tight game in prospect. Claire won back the serve but Lea was returning to a perfect length and the ladies completed a number of stunning rallies, but with Lea having the upper hand to lead 11-7. Then it was Claire's turn to inch back into the game 10-11 - but the serve was lost and Lea carried the game to 14-10. Another game ball but Claire hit a simply stunning drop shop low to the left, and then served powerfully to 12-14. However, a forced error saw Lea try again to secure the second game, and this point was enough as Claire couldn't retrieve at full stretch. Second game to Lea 15/12.

Claire urgently needed to find a way back into the match, trailing by two games to love. She increased her pace which seemed to give her an edge, leading 3-1 and then 4-2. Claire then struck a couple of purple patches, striding into an 8-2 lead; Lea fought back to 5-8 but Claire's determination saw her reach 13-5. Lea didn't stop fighting, winning back a couple of points to 7-14, and then 10-14, but this was to be Claire's game, winning 15/10, to reduce the deficit to one game to two.

 

The fourth game started with both players temporarily playing a more cagey game, and after a number of hands the score was 2-1 to Lea. Then both ladies had a surge of points - 7-5 to Claire before reaching 8-8 and then 9-9. The game was poised, with both players in superb form. However, Lea found another gear and won a convincing five points on her next hand to Championship Point 14-9. Claire was behind but not beaten and had one more service but Lea could see the game line and won the next point to take the game 15/9, and the World Championship by three games to one.

The gallery erupted to salute two great champions, who produced a classic encounter, firmly demonstrating that Ladies Rackets is both skilful and exhilarating.

World Champion, Lea van der Zwalmen (L), Chris Davies, Howard Angus and Claire Fahey (R)

T&RA Chief Executive, Chris Davies, praised both Lea and Claire for a brilliant match and thanked Neptune Investment Management for sponsoring the World Challenge. This was the inaugural event and another example of the great support provided by Robin Geffen to the sport of Rackets. Former World Champion, Howard Angus, presented the prizes and spoke about the development of the ladies game. Pol Roger also kindly donated 2004 vintage champagne to both players, and the gallery then toasted them both at a Pol Roger reception.

Weekend Schedule

Saturday Eliminator


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