The second day of UKPL Week 7 began with George Houghton versus Billy Harris. Houghton, coming off the back of a decisive win yesterday against Alexis Canter, and Harris- a stalwart of the UK Pro League competition. For both men, their performance this week is crucial in securing their place in the UK Pro League championship finals in Nottingham. From the first, Houghton carried on his good form taking the game to Harris, forcing a break against his lighting fast serve, pouncing on the slightly shaky start from the 26-year-old. Houghton then, playing to his strengths, utilised his powerful serve and aggressive forehand to close out a punchy set 6-3. However, the match was anything but over; both players showed immaculate technique to hold their serves and force a tie-break in the second set. Harris forced a mini break early on to make it 4-1, but Houghton brought it back 5-4, ultimately Harris held his serve and won the second set 7-6(5) with some gladiatorial rallies being had on both sides of the court. Then came the hotly contested match tie-break, both players were neck and neck, from 4-2 to 5-4, right up to 9-8, it culminated in a fitting way with a characteristic Harris serve. This was a game in which it’s unfortunate that there had to be a winner, both players played extremely well and showed dexterity in all aspects of their game.
In Pool D, Harry Wendelken took on Joe Tyler in a fascinating matchup. Joe Tyler the UK Pro League Debutant, coming off the back of his first win in the event, was looking to announce himself within the league. Harry Wendelken, having recently won the 25k Challenger tournament in Sunderland is looking to extend the brilliant form he’s been in recently. In the first set, Wendelken was able to take control of the Tyler serve, along with some dazzling returns. Equally, both players played some lengthy rallies of over 20 shots- neither giving in until the final word. However, Tyler fought back in the second set; it was a notably topsy-turvy set where both players broke the serves of each other 3 times. Ultimately, Tyler was able to clinch it in a tie-break 7-6(5). Finally, Wendelken made easy work of the final match tie-break seizing on the opportunities presented by a slightly inconsistent Tyler. A fine match, it will be interesting to see how Wendelken fairs against Sanghera, who has a very ferocious and attacking style (clash of the titans).
The next match-up featured Arina Vasilescu, a former winner of week 1 UK Pro League 2022, vs. Lauryn John-Baptiste, a player in good nick, aiming to get some points this week to ensure her inclusion in the UK Pro League Nottingham finals. The first set was electric with both players holding their nerve and playing some varied and outstanding shots; Vasilescu using the drop-shot and Lauryn perfecting the lob. Vasilescu shut the door on the fiery John-Baptiste with a high-octane return winner to close out the set 7-5. In the second set, Vasilescu’s determination didn’t let up, winning 91% of her first serve points and converting two break points to conclude an exciting match 7-5, 6-2. Vasilescu’s performance so far entrenches her in the Women’s Final bracket. She will be, as ever, thrilling to watch as she continues this week.
The Pool C match today between Anton Mautsevich and Mattias Southcombe was, in a word, decisive. Matusevich hit the ground running, returning Mattias’ serves with skill and precision. Not to mention serving in his characteristic missile-like fashion, which led indubitably to him taking the first set 6-3. Southcombe showed some resilience at the beginning of the second set with some courageous shot-making, leading to a break. However, Southcombe was beset with an ankle injury mid-way through the second set. He showed grit in the face of injury and played out the set like a trooper. Matusevich advances to the top of his pool and will face the runner-up of Group A in the Quarterfinals.
The match between the Pool B candidates, Dan Cox and Josh Paris ended with Cox winning a comfortable 6-3, 4-6, 10-4. Cox’s performance today was nothing other than disciplined, using his slice serve to place Paris out wide and finish the point with a one punch forehand. At the end of the day, Cox was the more consistent player. As it stands, Cox is sitting at 2nd in the league rankings and seems to have secured himself a place in the Nottingham UK Pro League Finals.
In the Women’s pools, Eliz Mahoney beat Jizel Fernandes in straight sets, 6-4, 6-1 and Danielle Daley beat top seed Beth Grey in a gruelling three-set victory placing her at the top of Pool A, she’ll play the runner-up of Pool C in the Quarterfinals.
In women’s Pool D, Alice Gillan (Week 6 Winner) beat Nadia Rawson 4-6, 6-1, 10-2. Gillan is looking to extend her good form from last week.
To finish off a great day of tennis, Dan Cox, playing for a second time today, beat his opponent Ewan Moore, with a solid 6-2, 6-2 finish.
Day 2 Results:
• Eliz Maloney bt Jizel Fernandes 6-4, 6-1
• Danielle Daley bt Beth Grey 6-4, 4-6, 10-7
• Alice Gillan bt Nadia Rawson 4-6, 6-1, 10-7
• Arina Vasilescu bt Lauryn John-Baptiste 7-5, 6-2
• Dan Cox bt Ewan Moore 6-2, 6-2
• Anton Matusevich bt Mattias Southcombe 6-3, 6-2
• Dan Cox bt Josh Paris 6-3, 4-6, 10-4
• Harry Wendelken bt Joe Tyler 6-3, 6(5)-7, 10-5
• Billy Harris bt George Houghton 3-6, 7-6(5), 10-8
The round robin pool stages concludes tomorrow, deciding who advances through to Wednesday’s Quarterfinals. Tune in at 11am to catch the action live on the Tennis Channel, BT Sport Extra and ukproleague.tv. Head over to Instagram and Twitter to catch updates and highlights throughout the day.