The day began with Maceo Simpson vs. George Loffhagen facing off. The favourite Loffhagen is almost 900 places above Simpson in the current ATP rankings. Simpson, a budding 19-year-old, fills in for Mattias Southcombe who injured his ankle in a recent match against Anton Matusevich. Loffhagen showed his prestige above Maceo by securing the first set 6-0. Loffhagen seemed to have no flaws in his game, winning an average of 93% of the points off his first and second serves. Loffhagen’s punishing serves and acute groundstrokes now ensure him a place in the Quarterfinals of the UK Pro League Week 7 competition. Maceo Simpson will play in the 9th to 12th place competition along with Billy Harris, Ewan Moore and Tiran Sanghera.
On Court 2, a UK Pro League record-breaking match took place between Billy Harris and Alexis Canter. Canter needed a victory here after losing to George Houghton just two days prior. In the first set, both Canter and Harris were playing some extraordinary tennis, hitting the living daylights out of the ball. Harris was able to break the serve of Canter in the 4th game, and then hold his serve to win the first set 6-4. The first set was the eye of the storm, as what followed was unprecedented until now. The second set, after a rocket-fuelled start in which, I am surprised, the balls didn’t burst. Additionally, both utilised the drop-shot and net approach nicely, which has not been second nature to the players this week favouring the groundstrokes from the back of the court. Ultimately, Harris broke in a back-and-forth game to make it 4-3 Harris. It all seemed dead and buried when Harris consolidated the break, however Canter from the death brought it back. He saved two match points to break Harris’ serve and, in the end, force a tie-break. The tie-break, like the rest of the game, was electric with neither player willing to give in, but in the end Alexis Canter clinched the tie-break 7-6(11). The match tie-break lasted 25 minutes and ended 18-16 to Canter, this was officially, in the history of the UK Pro League, the longest match tie-break ever recorded. An awe-inspiring match, overflowing with talent. This means, with Harris’ defeat, he goes into the 9-12th playoff matches and Alexis Canter is set to play in the Quarterfinals tomorrow.
The next match on Court 1 was the Women’s Pool A contest featuring top seed Beth Grey and relative UK Pro League newcomer Michelle Dzjachangirova. Both players started out a little shaky with certain shots, Beth with her forehand and Michelle with her serve (only winning 38% of points off her second serve). Beth was able to break immediately in the first game, however Michelle’s determination shone through and she broke back (a boomerang break). Ultimately, Beth’s precision and power won her the first set 6-3. However, throughout the game Michelle had demonstrated bursts of her brilliance and certainly proved that in the second set. She broke Beth in the 8th game, her backhand becoming a highlight reel. She was able to generate such power and acuteness from the backhand, Beth had no answer to her brilliance; a fantastic set from the 20-year-old. The match tie-break concluded 10-8 in Beth’s favour, however, both players went back and forth gaining mini breaks and losing them. The tension was palpable, but in the end the veteran Beth Grey won, procuring a place for herself in the highly contested Week 7 UK Pro League Quarterfinals.
It was a decisive match in the Pool B bout between Ewan Moore and Joshua Paris, who were both vying for a place in the Quarterfinals. The match began with Ewan Moore, the underdog, playing efficiently and handling the authoritarian serve of Paris nonchalantly. Great rallies were had by both men, both employing the drop-shot frequently. Ultimately, Paris was able to just overcome Moore in the first set tie-break beating him 7-6(4). The second set weaved a different tale, a once confident Moore was replaced by a beaten spirit, in the first set he won 70% of return points and in the second he won 30%. This difference allowed Paris to take hold of the game and show just how brilliant he can be; the match ended 7-6(4), 6-1.
There were decisive victories for Eliz Maloney and Arina Vasilescu against Jessica Matthews and Summer Yardley respectively. Maloney’s consistency and power on the court wowed the alternative filling in for Holly Hutchinson, who could not handle the game of the 21-year-old. In the Vasilescu bout, Jessica Matthews, although losing a set, came back in the second to gain a few set points. However the power and precision of Vasilescu’s game held true, and she wrapped the game up 6-2, 7-5.
In the Men’s Pool D matchup, Harry Wendelken beat Tiran Sanghera in a competent straight sets victory. Wendelken advances, as a result, to the top of Pool D and will play Josh Paris in an exciting Quarterfinals matchup tomorrow!
In the last match of the day, Alice Gillan (Week 6 Winner) beat Emma Cohen 6-2, 6(5)-7, 10-6 in a closely fought battle. Gillan, the great ball striker, displayed great prowess in the first set to break Cohen twice, winning every return she made to the Cohen second serve. However, Cohen was not to be counted out. Gillan was broken a few times during the second set by a promising and electric Cohen, but she brought the game back to 6-5. Through sheer grit and determination along with her elusive speed Cohen won the second set in a close tie-break. Ultimately, Gillan’s experience helped her overcome the nervy match tie-break and hang on to win 10-6. Cohen’s performance must not be understated, she played exceptionally well.
Day 3 Results:
• George Loffhagen bt Maceo Simpson 6-0, 6-2
• Alexis Canter bt Billy Harris 4-6, 7-6(11), 18-16
• Arina Vasilescu bt Jessica Matthews 6-2, 7-5
• Beth Grey bt Michelle Dzjachangirova 6-3, 5-7, 10-8
• Eliz Maloney bt Summer Yardley 6-1, 6-1
• Josh Paris bt Ewan Moore 7-6(4), 6-1
• Harry Wendelken bt Tiran Sanghera 6-2, 6-3
• Alice Gillan bt Emma Cohen 6-2, 6(5)-7, 10-6
Week 7 Quarterfinalists:
• Danielle Daley
• Beth Grey
• Eliz Mahoney
• Jizel Fernandes
• Arina Vasilescu
• Lauryn John-Baptiste
• Nadia Rawson
• Alice Gillan
• George Houghton
• Alexis Canter
• Dan Cox
• Josh Paris
• Anton Matusevich
• George Loffhagen
• Harry Wendelken
• Joe Tyler
9th – 12th Playoffs:
• Tiran Sanghera
• Billy Harris
• Maceo Simpson
• Ewan Moore
• Emma Cohen
• Jessica Matthews
• Summer Yardley
• Michelle Dzjachangirova