Lancaster succeed in the tennis despite greenhouse conditions

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Sunday morning, 9:30 AM, and the early start was worth it for the long anticipated Roses Tennis. On courts one, two and three, under the newly installed tennis bubble, were the first teams.

First up were the women’s doubles: Jemma Cardy and Olivia Marshall on court one, Valerie Sophie and Danielle McNally on court two and Florine Dubois-Graffan and Mercedes Shackleton on court three.

On court one, the communication between Cardy and Marshall was exceptional, causing them to claim the first set. Unfortunately for Lancaster, Sophie and McNally found York a tough nut to crack, especially the immense serve that York possessed. A similar story on court three, with York taking the first set. The second sets began, and York responded on court one by storming into the first few games, and ultimately claiming the second set.

We were set for a third set tie break on court one, and ready for another test of Cardy and Marshall’s stamina –  the heat inside the dome was now reaching Mediterranean-like conditions. Unfortunately, Lancaster suffered defeat in the second set on courts two and three, meaning the Lancaster pair had to win to give the girls hope going into singles action.

And win they did. In style, claiming the tie break 7-5 following a great serving game from the players, with women’s captain Marshall leading by example.

The first stage of matches were over, and York held a slender 2-1 lead over Lancaster.

It was time for some singles actions, six matches of women’s singles taking place. Mercedes Shackleton, Danielle McNally and Florine Dubois-Graffan were first up for Lancaster in respective singles matches.

Shackleton’s strong serves enabled her to take the advantage over her opponent, with score at 5-4 to Shackleton. A terrific volley during the final game and the set belonged to Shackleton. Expecting a fightback in the second set, Shackleton stepped it up a gear in set two, causing her to race into a 4-1 lead, and from here on out, the hope was lost by York as Shackleton dominated, winning the second set, thus claiming the match. Terrific tennis.

On court three, McNally used the net to her advantage with some looping drop shots from close to the net. However they weren’t enough as she was defeated in two straight sets despite putting up a valiant fight to do Lancaster proud.

The same applies to Dubois-Graffan, whose fighting attitude led to some immense rallies, and she fought for every single point. However, maybe due to experience in the conditions, the York player was just able to outfight and ended up winning in straight sets to increase York’s advantage to 4-2 going into the last round of women’s singles.

It was now midday so the sunlight was in full beam, causing the humidity within the dome to be at its highest, so we were now stopping for fresh air and refreshments after every game. Due to the greenhouse-like structure of the dome, the intensity of the brightness had now increased, so Lancaster were really up against it. First up we had Valerie Sophie on court one, who was highly impressive despite defeat in the doubles. Unfortunately her opponent was also a very good player, York’s secret weapon in many ways, who claimed victory in straight sets despite a battle from Sophie.

On centre court, the captain Olivia Marshall was out to make it two wins out of two with victory in her singles match. Both players took successive sets on their respective serves, neither player being able to get the all-important serve break. With the scores equal at 5-5, we went into the tension of the tie break to determine the first set. Marshall held her nerve and claimed the first set, able to then get the all-important break in the final game of set two the make it two wins out of two on a personal level for her.

However, it wasn’t enough as York won more games overall will hold the women’s tennis title until next year.

Next up it was the men’s doubles. Before the matches, SCAN spoke to Lancaster Tennis society president Dominic Liddell-Crewe, who was quick to stress the success of the men’s team this year: “we’ve had a really good year with the promotion for the first team so we feel we stand a really good chance”. He was also keen to point out the difficulty of the task ahead however, stating “we haven’t won the men’s tennis at Roses for 10 years so we know it’s going to be a tough game”

And a tough game it proved, for two reasons, the quality of the opposition, and the unbearable conditions. Focusing on the match on centre court, the team of Abdul Al Janahi and Ollie Wiggin suffered defeat in the first set 6-1. The second set was much closer, with York taking it 7-5. A valiant effort to try and get back in the game.

The match on court three gathered the crowds. It was a very tight affair, with Maxim Uslamin’s powerful shots winning multiple games for Lancaster. The first set ended with Lancaster on the wrong end of a 10 game match, losing 6-4 despite a fearless fight. The second set, an even closer affair with York taking it 7-6 on the tie break. Harsh on the Lancaster pair to suffer defeat in straight sets.

Despite the scores looking as though York tasted a bittersweet success, it must be noted that they were pushed all the way and only won because their players were better equipped and trained to playing in the greenhouse conditions.

Roll on the return to outdoor tennis in Roses 2016, and let’s end the 11 year hoodoo!

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