Trophy-laden month for Team Bath MCTA Tennis on the ITF World Junior Tour concluded with more success in both the Middle East and Europe.
The Avon pair of Joe Leather and Yusuke Tamaki went one better than the previous week’s tournament in Bahrain when they won the boys’ doubles title at the Fujairah ITF Junior West Asia Cup in the United Arab Emirates.
After battling through the opening two rounds via decisive third-set tie-breakers, Leather and Tamaki eased to a 6-3, 6-0 semi-final victory over Poland’s Karol Paluch and Ukraine’s Eric Vanshelboim before overcoming Nikolai Lorens (Poland) and Hungary’s Peter Sallay, 7-5, 7-5, in a close-fought final.
Back in Finland, Amelia Bissett and partner Morgan Cross won the girls’ doubles for a second week in a row, this time at the TATS Open in Tampere.
They lived up to their billing as No.1 seeds by moving through the tournament without losing a set, going on to beat Russia’s Alisa Budanova and Mararita Ignatjeva, from Latvia, 7-5, 6-4, in the final.
Ralph Allen School pupil Bissett, from Devizes, also reached the last four of the singles competition while Cross was a quarter-finalist.
On the senior circuit, Richard Gabb and Luke Johnson went mighty close to completing an unbeaten month in Israel as they reached a third-successive men’s doubles final on the Futures Tour.
However, they were not quite able to match their trophy successes in Ashkelon and Kiryat Gat as they were edged out 7-6(4), 6-7(4), 10-6 in the Meitar final by top seeds Yannick Jankovits, of France, and Switzerland’s Luca Margaroli.
The winners of the 2017 Tennis Europe Junior Tour ‘Players of the Year’ titles have been revealed.
The award is presented to the four players that top the boys’ and girls’ 14 and 16-and-under rankings at the end of the season, plus a series of other winners selected for their achievements on the Tour throughout the year.
Jack Pinnington-Jones became the first British player ever to end the season as 14-and-under No.1, after a strong season in which he won three singles and four doubles titles, including gold at the European Junior Championships, and was also runner-up at the Tennis Europe Junior Masters.
Pinnington-Jones thus goes one step further than Britain’s previous best performance by a 14-and-under boy when Andy Murray ended the 2001 season in second position behind long-time rival Novak Djokovic.
On hearing the news, Pinnington-Jones said: “It feels great! I never thought that I would have been able to do this, but it’s an amazing achievement.”
Pinnington-Jones trains at the West Hants High Performance Centre in Bournemouth and is coached by Yeovil’s James Pankhurst and Maz Bury.
Winners of titles at this year’s Wimbledon, Australian, French and US Open tournaments will join Rio 2016 Paralympic gold medallists in a star-studded line-up for the 2017 Bath Indoor Wheelchair Tennis Tournament.
The prestigious event is once again taking place at the University of Bath Sports Training Village following a hugely-successful debut last year, with spectators invited to watch world-class sport for free from Tuesday to Saturday.
A stacked men’s singles competition will feature eight of the world’s top-ten ranked players, including top seed Gustavo Fernandez, of Argentina, the winner of this year’s Australian Open and British Open Wheelchair Tennis Championship. He reached the final in Bath last year but lost out on the trophy to Belgium’s Joachim Gerard, who is back to defend his crown.
Wimbledon champion Stefan Olsson (Sweden) is also bidding for the title, while the British challenge will be led by Alfie Hewett – winner of the 2017 men’s singles at Roland Garros – and Rio 2016 gold medallist Gordon Reid.
Top seed in the women’s singles is Diede de Groot, of the Netherlands, who won the trophy in Bath 12 months ago and claimed the Wimbledon crown this year, as well as the US Open doubles title with Marjolein Buis (France).
Buis is one of six world top-ten ranked players in the women’s singles draw along with Taunton-based Lucy Shuker, who partnered de Groot to the women’s doubles title in Bath last year.
Two-time Paralympian and sports performance graduate Louise Hunt will also return to her former University of Bath training base for the ITF-1 level competition on the UNIQLO Wheelchair Tennis Tour, organised by the Tennis Foundation.
In the quad competition, David Wagner, of the United States, will be bidding for his 11th title of 2017 but will have to overcome tough opposition from the likes of South Africa’s Lucas Sithole, Australian duo Dylan Alcott and Heath Davidson, and Britain’s Anthony Cotterill and James Shaw.
Barry Scollo, director of tennis at Team Bath, said: “We are delighted to once again be welcoming such world-class athletes to our outstanding indoor tennis facilities at the University of Bath.
“As well as watching, members of the public are also invited to try wheelchair tennis in a free session taking place from 11.00 am to 1.00 pm on Saturday. It is open to all ages and abilities, all equipment will be provided and coaches will be on hand to give participants a helping hand.”