The final qualifying week of UKPL is underway at Gosling Tennis Centre!
The day began with George Houghton securing a well fought victory against Alexis Canter, 6-4, 6-3, 10-2. Houghton appears in fine form after his 3rd and 2nd place finishes in the previous two qualifying weeks. Today’s matchup displayed his recent form against strong contender Alexis Canter. The first set seemed routine for Houghton as he dictated rallies from the back of the court with his blistering ground strokes and powerful serve. However, in the second set, Canter had a spike of focus, picking off Houghton’s second serves with confidence shining from his racket. Houghton, however, held his nerve at the important moment and played clinically in the third set tie-break to secure his first win of week 7.
Woman’s Pool C saw Lauryn John-Baptiste triumph in a confident straight sets victory over Jessica Matthews, a young rising player who recently participated in her first 60k ITF tournament in Glasgow. The 23-year-old broke early in the first set, showing firm resolve to hold the set (6-4) against a composed and varied attack launched by youngster Jessica. In the second set, Lauryn demonstrated her consistency by shutting the door on Jessica, giving her the provisional top spot in Pool C. Lauryn currently sits at 13th in the UK Pro League table and so a win this week would secure her a position in the UK Pro League finals in Nottingham. She is certainly one to watch this week.
In another match, Jizel Fernandes took on Holly Hutchinson in a closely fought battle. Hutchinson’s ball striking seemed imperious in the first set and she was able to force a break in the Fernandes serve to make it 4-3. When it all seemed finished, Fernandes came back from 0-30 down to hold her serve and break the impenetrable Hutchinson serve with some tactical ball striking. Once again, against all odds, Fernandes came back in the tie-break from 4-1 to win 9-7 in a nail-biting finish. In an unfortunate turn of events, Hutchinson retired from the match and the UK Pro League tournament due to a back injury. This leaves Eliz Maloney and Jizel Fernandes to battle alternate Summer Yardley for the top spot in Women’s Pool B.
In the Men’s Pool C match-up, Anton Matusevich, the 2021 men’s UK Pro League Champion took on UK Pro League debutant George Loffhagen in a thrilling two-hour long game. Both players seemed extremely comfortable on the hard-court surface, striking the ball with immense power. The first set went back and forward constantly with Matusevich getting the better of Loffhagen in a tie-break (7-2), with his serve dictating the fast-paced tempo of play. It was all to play for in the second set, which did not disappoint. Matusevich, in the second set, won almost 90% of the points off his dominant first serve offering up little opportunity for Loffhagen to take control, but Loffhagen’s court coverage and defensive skills led to a gripping contest. Although, Matusevich persevered and broke Loffhagen’s serve in the death to win his first match of the Week 7 matches. Matusevich is looking like a strong contender for back-to-back UK Pro League titles (a feat never achieved before in UK Pro League history).
In Men’s Pool D, Joe Tyler, UK Pro League Debutant was able to stave off the ferocious attack of Tiran Sanghera to currently top his respective pool. Tyler showed enormous resolution to fight back from a second set defeat and win the tie-break comfortably, and announce himself as a key contender for the Week 7 competition.
In the Women’s Pools, Nadia Rawson and Danielle Daley both won in straight sets against Michelle Dzjachangirova and Emma Cohen respectively, to reserve their place at the top of their pools after day 1.
Full Day 2 Results:
• George Houghton bt Alexis Canter 6-4, 3-6, 10-2
• Lauryn John-Baptiste bt Jessica Matthews 6-4, 6-1
• Jizel Fernandes bt Holly Hutchinson 7-6(7) ret.
• Anton Matusevich bt George Loffhagen 7-6(2), 7-5
• Danielle Daley bt Michelle Dzjachangirova 6-1, 6-1
• Nadia Rawson bt Emma Cohen 6-1, 6-2
• Joe Tyler bt Tiran Sanghera 6-3, 2-6, 10-1