There were two new champions at the AEGON British Tour Tier 2 event in Bolton this week, with Simon Roberts and Samantha Murray winning their first British Tour titles of the year. Both players play very infrequently but are highly talented individuals, and will be pleased that they were able to shake off some significant rust.
Simon Roberts, who was the fifth seed at the event, was arguably the favourite going into the competition despite his seeding: the Brit has a Universal Tennis Rating of 13.74, although its reliability is only 60% because of the lack of competitive matches the 33-year-old has played in the last year. This rating was significantly higher than top seed Mason Recci, who at 13.34 had the second highest UTR in the tournament. Despite that, though, Recci was beaten in the first round by youngster Louis Newman, making Roberts’ passage to the title even easier.
Newman completed an excellent tournament by reaching the semi-finals after defeating seventh seed Rohan Sikka in three tough sets. Newman faced fourth seed Peter Ashley, who breezed past eighth seed Ben Jones 6-1 6-4 before reaching the final with a 6-3 6-2 victory over young Newman.
Roberts’ heightened ability compared to the rest of the field shone through in his quarter- and semi-final matches. The veteran beat Matthew Chadwick 6-1 6-0 before an almost too easy victory over second seed Clay Crawford put him into the final, 6-2 6-0. Roberts completed his title run with a relatively straightforward 6-3 7-5 victory over Ashley in the final.
In the women’s draw, former top 200 player Samantha Murray enjoyed a victorious return to action after over a year to secure the title against Serena Nash in the final. Perhaps the most impressive performance was from qualifier Tamara Malazonia, only 14 years of age, who reached the semi-finals after a 6-1 6-4 victory over fellow qualifier Jessica Zeynel. Malazonia even gave Nash a run for her money in the semis, losing 6-4 5-7 7-5 to further emphasise her potential as one for the future.
In the bottom half, Mollie Crouch, the fourth seed, came past Olivia Peet with relative ease, while Murray took out Ceire Mullins, also in straight sets, before a 6-1 6-2 victory over Crouch carried Murray into the final. Murray’s experience won through against the youngster from Yorkshire, racing to the first set before a less straightforward second but an eventually comfortable 6-0 6-4 victory.