With 28 players contesting over 80 matches in two and a half days, another highly successful Shrewsbury Open came to an end with Tony Knappett winning the main draw singles and Kevin Drake taking the major honours in the novice singles at the fifth Tennis Foundation Development Series event of 2015.
After Sam Eardley and Gordon Wild won through their qualifying matches to join the main draw singles, the first round proper produced a thrilling encounter between Scot Keith Thom and Bristol’s Steve Metcalfe, with Thom sealing a match tiebreak to advance to the quarter-finals 3-6, 6-4 (10-8).
Two of the country’s most seasoned players met in the last eight as Knappett saw off Keith Whiley in straight sets. West Midlands’ duo John Lambert and Mehboob Hussain also went head-to-head, with Lambert’s greater experience standing him in good stead as she joined Pim Palmen, Knappett and former men’s National Championships winner Scott Smith in the semi-finals.
Both semi-finals were hotly contested, but Smith held on to beat Lambert 7-5, 6-4 and reverse the result of last year’ final to give this year’s final local interest once again. Meanwhile, Knappett needed all his experience to edge out top seed Palmen 7-5, 2-6, (10-5) in his semi-final. A second successive match tie-break gave Lancashire’s former GB international the singles title.
In the novice singles Scott Farquhar won an enthralling contest against Manojkanth Somasundaram 5-4, 4-5, (7-3) a field of ten players was reduced to a knock-out draw of eight. However, Deena Webster took a first set tie-break en route to ensuring that Farquhar went no further than the quarter-finals, while a second set tie-break in the short sets format used for the novice singles saw David Denholm move into the last four after bearing Tracey Proudlock 4-2, 5-4(6).
Ultimately Drake and Ben Jones proved strongest against Webster and Denholm in the novice semi-finals, but with Jones unable to take his place in the final, the title went to Drake.
There was a dramatic turnaround in fortunes in the first round of the main draw doubles, Steve Crompton and Great Shea recovering from not winning a single game in their opening set to eventually beat Hussain and Whiley 0-4, 4-2, (7-3). Thereafter, the top two seeded partnerships reached the final with ease before there was another dramatic end to the event as top seeds Lambert and Smith gained a tense 7-6(5), 4-6, (11-9) win over Knappett and Thom.
Both semi-finals in the novice singles also ended in tie-breaks, Geoff Ellis and Somasundaram beating Drake and Webster 2-4, 5-3, (7-3), while Denholm and Proudlock edged past Eardley and Jones 5-4(4) 3-5, (7-3). But the final ended in straight sets, Ellis and Somasundaram clinching the novice doubles 4-2, 4-2.
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