19-year-old Joshua Sapwell claimed his fourth successive AEGON British Tour title this weekend and may well be on for a fifth in Felixstowe next week, after coming past yet another ATP-ranked field in the Tier 2 three-day event in Connaught this weekend. Meanwhile, top seed Holly Hutchinson claimed the women’s title.
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Sapwell, who has come within one match of being re-ranked on the ATP tour this year, after a lengthy spell on the sidelines for most of last year, has shown over the past month why he deserved a spot on those rankings with some victories over well-ranked British players, including a final victory over #1080 Robbie Ridout at this particular event.
Sapwell had benefitted somewhat from the demise of top seed Joe Salisbury at the unlikely hands of unseeded George Hedley in the quarter-finals. Hedley, who is currently a freshman at the University of Louisville, will be delighted with a run to the semi-finals which ended after Sapwell defeated him 10-7 in a tight match tiebreak. In the bottom half, Ridout came past fifth seeded Frenchman Michael Suleau in a similarly close semi-final, winning 12-10 in the MTB after fourth seed Sam Price and sixth seed Rohan Sikka were both knocked out early.
In the final, Sapwell and Ridout were evenly matched, with Sapwell clinching the first set 6-1 before Ridout fought back to force a MTB after taking the second 6-4. Sapwell was not to be denied a fourth consecutive title, though, winning 10-7 in the match tiebreak.
The victory means Sapwell, who now leads the AEGON British Tour leaderboard by a significant margin, will enter Wimbledon pre-qualifying as a wildcard.
In the women’s draw, it was one versus four in the final after second seed Louise Holtum was surprisingly dumped out by Destinee Martins 6-3 6-3 in the second round. That left the bottom half of the draw open for Grace Dixon to reach the final, coming past fifth seed Sasha Hill 7-5 6-1 in the semi-final. Up top, Hutchinson and third seed Mollie Crouch both had to navigate a match tiebreak each before meeting in the semi-finals, and Hutchinson was struggling against Crouch in their encounter before the third seed retired, leading 6-3 0-2 in the second set.
The final was fairly routine for Hutchinson, who will be heading to Old Dominion over in the States on a tennis scholarship in the autumn. Hutchinson rolled over the fourth seed with a 6-4 6-2 victory to complete a decent week, and there seems to be plenty of potential for the youngster as she heads off across the pond in September.