The UK Pro League headed down to David Lloyds Southampton last week, a brand new venue for the competition. We also met several new UKPL players- one of whom, 18-year-old Louis Bowden, walked away with the title. In the women’s competition Emma Wilson got her first win after previously reaching two Finals.
Local boy Louis Bowden, 88 in the ITF junior rankings, breezed through his first 4 matches of the Week, not dropping a set. However it was a similar story for the other Men’s finalist Brandon Murphy. As Murphy had previously won 2 UKPL Weeks and was top seed in this week’s draw, he was likely the favourite for the win in many people’s eyes.
It was up to Bowden to prove them wrong and, by the end of the first set, it was clear to everyone he was capable of the win. Bowden got the only break of serve in the first set for 2-1, which lead to a 6-4 win of the set. The match felt very close, with most points lost by small margins. Bowden broke Murphy’s serve in the opening game of the second set. However Murphy immediately broke back, and won his following service game without dropping a point to put himself ahead for the first time in the match. He then broke Bowden’s serve twice more to win the set 6-2.
Although an already impressive feat to take a set of Murphy in the Final, Bowden was not done. He lead from the start of the tiebreak, keeping calm and leaving the errors to Murphy, whose forehands found the net a few times. Bowden struggled on occasion to return Murphy’s serve, but it didn’t hand Murphy enough to points to catch up. A final overzealous shot from Murphy landed just beyond the baseline to hand Bowden the tiebreak win in a spectacular 10-3. The final score: 6-4, 2-6, 10-3.
Congratulations to Louis Bowden, who joins the handful of players that have achieved the win on their debut. This actually includes this week’s runner-up Brandon Murphy, who won back to back weeks on his debut in early 2022.
Emma Wilson has had a fantastic couple of Weeks. Not perturbed by narrowly missing out on her first UKPL Week Win last week to Danielle Daley, she returned for Week 4 fighting. Her only set lost in the run up to the Final was in the pool stage against 18-year-old Kate Mansfield, where Wilson won 6-2, 1-6, 10-6. However, Mansfield had proceeded to come second in the pool, won her Quarter Final and beat top seed Alice Gillan in straight sets in the Semi Final. She arrived opposite Wilson in the Final, seeking a rematch.
In a purposeful start, Wilson got the early break for 2-1 and won her next service game without dropping a point. However, Mansfield broke back to even the score at 3-3. The match was close, with many games reaching deuce, and the set stayed with serve until 6-6, triggering a set tiebreak. Wilson just got the better of Mansfield in the close tiebreak to win the set 7-6(5).
The match sped up in the second set, with the games becoming less close. Wilson broke Mansfield’s serve early to go 2-0 up. Mansfield broke back for 3-4 and saved a break point in the following game to even the score at 4-4. Perhaps fearing another tiebreak situation, Wilson pulled out all the stops, winning her next service game without dropping a point and then breaking Mansfield a final time to win the set 6-4. The Final Score: 7-6(5), 6-4.
A big congratulations to Emma Wilson, her third UKPL Final but her first win, very well deserved.