Sam Walker & Maria Tsaptsinos cruised to the Mixed Doubles title in the final match of a busy first day at the Mark Bates Ltd National Championships.
All photos by Alan Man – view more here.
Remember, you can watch the action on the show court on Saturday live on Recast.
Top seeds Tsaptsinos & Walker clinched the title – in Tsaptsinos’ case for the first time – with a straight-set win over Josh Bennett & Lois Peake.
Walker, winner of this title in 2020 with Tin-Tin Ho, had too much power for the opposing pair, with Tsaptsinos providing the intensity around the table.
They continually put the ball into awkward positions, leading to devastating attacking shots. The pattern kept repeating with the international quality shining through. Bennett, himself a winner of the mixed doubles in 2019, and Peake had a good run to the final, but this proved to be one game too many. The final score was 11-4, 11-3, 11-3.
After the match, Tsaptsinos spoke of her delight of winning her fist mixed doubles title.
Walker said it could be the start of a long-term doubles partnership. He said: “I think we need to play a bit more, I don’t think it was as challenging as it could have been today. I think we need to test ourselves at international competitions as well.”
Tsaptsinos said: “I think there’s another level we can go to with more practice and finessing.”
Bennett & Peake had a fantastic result in the semi-final, overcoming top seed David McBeath & Tin-Tin Ho. After some tight opening exchanges, there was nothing to split them. Bennett & Peake exploited the angles that being a right and left-handed combination brings, winning the first set 12-10.
The second set saw some incredible forehands played by Bennett and with Peake ably supporting, 11-7. The third saw the experienced duo of McBeath & Ho claw their way back with a comprehensive 11-4 score. However, the fourth sealed the result. Bennett & Peake kept their cool, to take it 11-8.
Walker & Tsaptsinos beat the spirited pair of Naphong Boonyaprapa & Millie Rogove to reach the final. After taking the first two sets 11-6. However, Boonyaprapa & Rogove had fought valiantly up to that point, so weren’t prepared to go down without a fight. They took the third set 11-7. However, the experience of their opponents soon showed, with Walker & Tsaptsinos booking their place in the final by winning the fourth set 11-5.
McBeath and Ho made light work of the sibling pair of Erin & Connor Green, showing their international class, winning their quarter-final 11-5, 11-6, 13-11.
Despite being finalists in 2020, Chris Doran & Charlotte Bardsley couldn’t make it to the semi-final, losing to Bennett and Peake. The right and left-hand combination again worked well for the Sussex pair, coming through (11-8, 11-8, 3-11, 11-8).
Walker & Tsaptsinos reached the semi-final with a clinical win over Emily Bolton and Joe Ferguson. Despite it being straight sets, all were close with Walker &Tsaptsinos taking it 11-9, 13-11, 11-9.
The semi-final line-up was completed by Boonyaprapa & Rogove who come through a tightly contested four-set match. They took the fourth set 15-13, with some excellent rallies from all four players. The final score was 8-11, 12-10, 11-5, 15-13.
There were a few surprising results in the opening round. Densie Payet & Shayan Siraj fell at the first hurdle to Rogove & Boonyaprapa in a game that went the distance. Rogove & Boonyaprapa raced into a 2-0 lead against the more experienced pair. However, Payet and Siraj began their comeback by winning the next two, forcing a decider. Rogove & Boonyaprapa found another level in the fifth, taking it 11-7.
The Green pairing combined used their family bond to beat Mollie Patterson & Sam Mabey. After they split the first four sets, the decider was easily won by the Greens, 11-3.
Tsaptsinos & Walker came through their first-round game with a comfortable win over Megan Jones & Krish Chotai (11-7, 11-7, 11-5).
Ho & McBeath had to go to four sets with Scarlett Anders and Joseph Hunter, winning 11-8, 11-4, 7-11, 11-6.
Doran & Bardsley started their campaign with a tricky test against Amy Marriott & Olly Cornish. After losing the first set, they moved through the gear to win 9-11, 11-7, 11-3, 11-3.