On Sunday 22nd March, Sophie Pink (Tennis Coach at David Lloyd Southampton) ran the ‘£200 David Lloyd ‘touchtennis’ Event – Southampton’, which was the first official ‘touchtennis’ World Tour Event to be held in Hampshire.
If you have not heard of ‘touchtennis’ before, it is one of the fastest growing racket sports in the world. It takes place on a reduced size court with foam balls and 21 inch rackets. The rules are slightly adapted as you only have one serve and if it’s a ‘let’ you have to play on; you are only allowed one ball toss, so you have to hit it or you lose the point and so on. Matches are played in short sets to 4 games and sudden death deuce.
Sophie Pink, Tournament Director commented: "I wanted this event to get highly recognised as not many people know about this fun and enjoyable sport. My goal is to help grow the game, not only in Hampshire but help grow it across the UK by getting the word out there, the more people playing the better.” This event proved to be very popular as it was one of the fastest filling draws yet.
This exciting sport is for players of all abilities, a chance to meet a lovely group of people, who are a lot of fun and it's a great way to boost your ‘touchtennis' ranking. Also, Rashid Ahmad ‘Founder of touchtennis’ made an appearance and competed in the all day event alongside the World Number 1 ‘Simon Roberts’.
On the day 32 players competed at the event, coming from all over the country, 11 of which who are sponsored by major tennis brands such as: Wilson, Babolat and Prince. The dedication to the sport showed as players came from far and wide, from: Hampshire, Essex, Surrey, Bolton and some even came from Durham. It was great to see at the event there were newcomers to the sport too, as we want ‘touchtennis’ to grow bigger and better, with more people playing and enjoying the sport.
As matches started at 10am and finished at 6pm, there was a long day ahead for some and a lot of matches to be played.
There were 4 Draws on the day; there was a Main Draw (mixed singles), Consolation Draw (first round losers), Doubles Draw and Women’s Draw.
As the day began, the outcomes of the draw were surprising us all, as some of the newcomers were getting there names heard by all. Team Essex Storm, who usually battle it out until at least the Quarter Finals at ‘tour’ events and claim to be in the “form of their lives” were getting knocked out first round, except Chris Phillips and Christine Horne.
Newcomer Ashley Neaves (Hampshire), made a impressive debut by managing to get through 2 rounds before meeting Rashid ‘The GOAT’ Ahmad (Founder of ‘touchtennis’) in the Draw, ‘Neaves’ claimed the Match 4-2 4-2, which meant getting through to the Semi-Finals, only to get knocked out by World Number 1 ‘Roberts’ 4-3 4-1.
‘Roberts’ looked strong in the final match of the Main Draw, against 2nd seed Alex Bull and ‘Roberts claimed victory 5-3 4-1 against Bull, achieving his 4th consecutive tournament win on the ‘touchtennis World Tour’ and comfortably securing his #1 World Ranking, also it is so good to see a British World #1 in touchtennis’.
During the day we held a Women’s Event as we are trying to boost the number of girls in the sport, where they could play for extra ranking points and a shared £25 prize money pot. There were 6 women in the event including Ladies World #2 Christine Horne (Essex), #6 Sarah Ditcham (Hampshire) and #8 Sophie Pink (Hampshire). However the Champion of the women’s event was Sharron Fitton, who competed against ‘Horne’ in the Final with tremendous score of 4-1 4-0.
In the Doubles Event there was 16 pairs in the draw and the final was our final match of the day. Rob Crouch (Surrey) and Alex Bull (Surrey) were ready to battle it out for the title over Rob Burrows (Bolton) and Sam Stokoe (Durham). It was a close first set, as it lead to a tie-break, however the ‘Crouch’ and ‘Bull’ powered through the second set, leading to a two set victory over ‘Burrows’ and ‘Stokoe’ 5-4 4-1.
Doubles runner-up, Sam Stokoe (Durham) was the champion of the Consolation Draw on the day, against Chris Smith, with a score of 8-7. This match was so close there was only one point in it.
Rashid Ahmad, Founder of ‘touchtennis’ commented: "I had more fun at this event than almost any other. Well organised, great facilities and possibly 100 matches played today by all. Thanks a bunch to Sophie for organising it.”
As the day finished, we can all say that even though there were only a few winners, everybody went home with smiles on their faces. Sarah Ditcham (Ladies World #6) commented: "The £200 David Lloyd 'touchtennis' Event - Southampton run by Sophie was, for me, the best ever!”
A lot of matches played, a lot of friends made and even some local juniors got to try out the sport on the day.
If you are interested in the ‘touchtennis World Tour’ why not give it a go, what’s stopping you?
Further information can be found at www.touchtennis.com.
Or check out the BBC News Video Report: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0bAEv1NRtN0