This weekend saw the fourth and penultimate BUCS Individual Championship Regional event taking place at Leeds Beckett University. With players coming from all over the north of England, from as far as Durham in the north to Nottingham in the south, it was a weekend of very few shocks.
Players studying at universities across the UK compete in five regional tournaments to qualify for the finals in March. There were four qualifying spots available for both the men and the women in Leeds this weekend.
In the Men’s draw, the bottom half all went to plan, while there were a few surprise qualifiers in the top half. Third seed Andrew Atkinson from Leeds Beckett University delighted the home crowd by securing qualification in the final round against Nottingham’s Christopher Starkey in a well-fought 5-7 6-0 6-3 victory. Fourth seeded Russian Nikita Kushnarev, also from Leeds Beckett, also secured his place in the finals, beating fellow Beckett student James Keighley in the final round.
The top half was a little less routine for the top two seeds: both David Parry [1, Bangor University] and Paul Johnson [2, Beckett University] were defeated by unseeded players in the penultimate round, which left their sections of the draw wide open. Parry was defeated by Michael Welsh, another student from Leeds Beckett, who went on to lose to fellow Beckett student and fifth seed Ben Crichton 6-3 6-2 in the final round. Edward Gibbs, from Nottingham, who took out Johnson, took on Durham’s David Salazar, who was also unseeded, in the decisive final round. Gibbs came out on top, winning 6-4 6-1 to secure his place in the finals.
The women’s draw saw all four top seeds fulfil their seedings by qualifying for the finals, with two students from Durham and two from Northumbria asserting some north-easterly dominance on the women’s draw. Top seed Caitlin Hindmarsh dropped just three games in her two matches en route to qualification, while fellow Northumbria student and fourth seed Yasmin Tanfield scraped through her first match 11-9 on a champion’s tiebreak before securing qualification 6-2 6-4 against Nottingham’s Jenny Eales.
Ukrainian second seed Polina Movchan, playing for Durham, came through with ease alongside fellow Durham student and third seed Isabelle Hearnshaw, who, like top seed Hindmarsh, dropped just three games in two matches to secure her place in the finals.
Next week sees the final regional event for the south-east in Buckinghamshire before the finals the following week at Loughborough University.