Chris Baily and Callum Lock both clinched singles titles before pairing up to win the visually impaired men’s doubles on Saturday at the Tennis Foundation Blind and Visually Impaired Tennis Regional Series event in Cambridge.
A new initiative for 2016, the regional tournaments will count towards qualification for the Blind and Visually Impaired Tennis National Championships which will take place in October at the National Tennis Centre.
Hosted by Vison4Growth, one of the blind and visually impaired tennis groups around the country supported by the Tennis Foundation, the tournament saw Baily, Lock and Paul Ryb all drop just one game apiece to win their B2, B3 and B4 men’s singles events.
Baily followed up a 4-0, 4-0 win over Mick Scadden by defeating second seed James Currie 4-0, 4-1 to win the B2 men’s singles. There was similar success for Ryb, who beat Benjamin Stingmore 4-0, 4-0 before completing his B3 men’s singles victory with a 4-0, 4-1 victory over Alexander Wheen.
The B4 men’s singles saw Lock overcome David Pickering 4-0, 4-0. Lock later won the final against Shane Downing 4-0, 4-1.
Baily and Ryb were on opposite sides of the net in the visually impaired men’s doubles final with their respective partners Lock and Currie. The top two seeded partnerships both won their semifinals without dropping a game, but Baily and Lock proved too strong in the final to take the honours 4-1.
A series of comfortable straight sets wins in the early matches in the women’s visually impaired singles were followed by a closer semi-final for Odette Battarel. Battarel eventually defeated Sarah Fortescue 4-2, 5-4(4), ending Fortescue’s hopes of adding to her B3 women’s singles title at the North East tournament in May.
Meanwhile, Christine Laurence reached the final for the loss of just two games in her quarter-final against Gillian Currie. Laurence followed that with a 4-0, 4-0 semi-final victory over Beverley Chow. She went on to also win the first set of the final without dropping a game and withstood a fightback from Battarel in the second set to win the title 4-0, 5-3.
There was better news for Gillian Currie and Fortescue in the visually impaired women’s doubles as they claimed victory in the final, defeating Battarel and Amanda Green 4-0.
The B1 mixed singles for blind players was arguably the most exciting event of the tournament in terms of close contests. Both matches in the first round and all four quarter-finals were settled in tie-breaks as top seed Roy Turnham, Chris Jefferies, Masuma Ali and second seed Nikhil Nair all edged into the last four.
Ali came through a marathon quarter-final tie-break to beat Marion Mansfield 4-3(11). That win set up a semi-final against Nair. However, Nair, the reigning B1 National Champion, recovered well from his own quarter-final tie-break to win his semi-final 4-2.
Turnham was even more dominant in his semi-final, defeating Jefferies 4-0 and he then went on to snatch victory against Nair 5-4(4) in the final, repeating his victories over Nair in the B1 finals in Sutton and Edgbaston earlier this year.
The B1 mixed doubles provided another fascinating set of matches as Nair and Turnham found themselves on opposite sides of the net in another final.
Marion Mansfield and Emma Mead booked their place in the last four with a hard-won 9-7, 7-4 win over Ekinath Khedekar and Monica Smith, but Mansfield and Mead’s progress came to an end against Jefferies and Nair as the top seeds reached the title decider 7-4, 8-6.
Turnham and Fiona Musgrove won the important points to record a 7-5, 7-5 victory over Naqi Rizvi and Ali in the other B1 doubles semi-final. But despite some extremely close straight sets wins in the first three matches, it was only the final that went to a third and deciding set as Jefferies and Nair prevailed 7-4, 4-7, 7-4, giving Nair some compensation for his singles final loss to Turnham.