Grass season started early with Week 7 of the UK Pro League; our first-ever grass event was hosted at Felixstowe Lawn Tennis Club from 28th May to 3rd June. With each player guaranteed 5 matches in 7 days, it was the perfect opportunity for players to get ready for the season ahead.
16-year-old Isabelle Lacy, who became the 18U Junior National Champion in April, put in an impressive performance in her first-ever UK Pro League to reach the Final. Kate Mansfield, also only 18, had reached her second UKPL Final but was still seeking her first win, coming runner-up to Emma Wilson in Week 4.
The first set of the Women’s Final started with both women serving well, and the set stayed strictly with serve; Lacy didn’t drop a single point in her first 2 service games. It was Lacy who got the first break of serve, going 4-3 up. Mansfield fought hard, saving 3 set points, but could not break back and Lacy took the first set 6-4.
Both women won their opening service games of the second set, but Lacy then got a crucial break for 1-2. The game continued with serve until Lacy stepped it up a notch and broke to love for 5-2. She was then serving for the set, but a last-ditch attempt from Mansfield saw her go 40-0 up, on the verge of getting her first break of serve. However Lacy swiftly wrapped up the match, winning the rest of the points in spectacular fashion. A 6-4, 6-2 victory without being broken once.
Winner Isabelle Lacy (right) with runner-up Kate Mansfield (left)
In the Men’s competition, a similar tale unfolded; another youngster new to the UK Pro League had reached the Finals– 18-year-old Patrick Brady. The other finalist was Ryan Storrie, who first competed in the UKPL in its inaugural week in 2020, and had reached his first final. His previous best finish at the UKPL was a third place in week 6 the previous month.
The more experienced Storrie started stronger, winning the first 3 games. The games themselves, however, were close; long, action-packed rallies quickly became routine for the match. Brady won his first game for 3-1 and then his first break for 4-3. However, he wasn’t able to catch up and Storrie took the first set 6-3. One set down and already more than enough points for a fantastic highlight reel. Both players were playing confidently, and neither one gave up any point easily. Plenty of times the point seemed surely over before an incredible sprint from one of the men kept it in play.
This entertaining tennis continued into the second set. Storrie broke Brady’s opening service game, but Brady broke back immediately. The match stayed very close, going with serve until Storrie broke to love for 4-3. Was this the beginning of the end for Brady? Well, following the theme of the match, Brady wasn’t giving up. He broke back for 4-4 and held to move into the lead. Neither broke again and therefore a set tiebreak was triggered at 6-6. Determined to not put all his hard work into nothing, Brady gave it everything to win the set tiebreak in a powerful 7-1.
Both men would have been forgiven for seeming tired at this point; nearly two hours played in full sun, and gusts of wind also making conditions not easy. However, the subsequent match tiebreak was still characterised by long rallies and plenty of sprinting about the court. It was a joy to watch for the group of spectators who had gathered for a day of finals in the sun. Storrie, mirroring the first set, led from the start, winning the first 3 points. However, the pressure seemed to start having an effect after that- a few overzealous shots from Storrie and Brady had evened the score. Brady then stormed ahead, putting up an amazing fight- at one point hitting a winning shot from the ground after slipping over. Storrie continued to be slightly more erroneous and Brady won the match 3-6, 7-6(1) 10-6. An impressive comeback from the youngster, and a valiant effort from both; Storrie won 77 points to Brady’s 78. What an exciting final to round off our first event on grass!
Two amazing debuts from two bright young stars and a successful first grass event for the UK Pro League. We can’t wait to see what our players achieve in the grass season ahead!