Life on the ITF Tour: Second Round Day in Sunderland

Jana Fett in action on the ITF Tour

Wimbledon’s Manic Monday is probably the most iconic day in the tennis calendar. But whilst Thursday at the ITF Sunderland did not boast quite as glamorous surroundings or so much star power as the All England Club, there was certainly plenty of excellent tennis on display and we here at LWOT were on site to capture it all. Here’s a recap of what you might have missed:

Top-ranked ITF Tour players impress

The ITF Tour exists, principally, to provide players with an upward path through the professional ranks and that much was evident in the match between the top-seeded Viktoriya Tomova and the 14-year-old Briton Eva Shaw. In the early going, the teenager looked to be somewhat overawed and was broken to love in her opening service game. That rather set the tone for the remainder of the first set, which Tomova won at a canter, 6-1.

But Shaw came to grips with her task in the second, pushing the Bulgarian world #151 hard thanks to some powerful and accurate hitting from the baseline. Ultimately, however, Tomova’s experience proved the difference, with the top seed breaking the Shaw serve at the death to claim a 6-1 7-5 win and her spot in the quarterfinals. But Shaw deserves great credit for the level of her performance and she looks to be a formidable talent for her age.

Tomova was not the only seeded player to have a good day at the office. Holland’s Richel Hogenkamp and Amandine Hesse of France both recorded comfortable wins to reach the last eight, as did the 17-year-old Dane Clara Tauson, who is seeded seventh in Sunderland. Samantha Murray Sharan, meanwhile, kept the British flag flying with a comprehensive 6-1 6-4 win over Germany’s Julia Wachaczyk. She will face Hesse in the quarterfinals.

Jana Fett produced a fantastic comeback to progress at the expense of Lou Brouleau. The Croatian was a set and 5-2 down to Broleau, but rallied to take the second set in a tiebreak before edging the decider to advance a 4-6 7-6 6-4 winner. Also in the quarterfinals is Emma Raducanu who came out on top in an all-British clash with her fellow 17-year-old Amarni Banks. Turkey’s Pemra Ozgen, the oldest women in the draw, completed the quarterfinal line-up by rallying from a set down to beat Jodie Anna Burrage, who faded badly towards the end, losing the third set 1-6.

Mixed Day for the British men

Unsurprisingly, there was no shortage of British interest in the men’s draw, with five out of the eight second-round matches featuring at least one Briton. The qualifier Sean Hodkin produced a fine display up against the 19-year-old Dutchman Jesper De Jong, but fell just short, losing 6-7 5-7. Aidan McHugh, however, was outclassed by the experienced Igor Sijsling, once ranked as high as 52nd in the world, with the Dutchman winning 6-2 7-5.

Mark Whitehouse beat a simmering Eduardo Struvay, whilst Anton Matusevich beat the Dutch lefty Gijs Brouwer after an almighty three-set battle. Jack Draper, who followed them onto court, was clearly inspired by their performances and impressed in a 6-4 6-4 win over the Frenchman Evan Furness. Also in the quarterfinals are Christopher Heyman of Belgium and the Frenchman Dan Added Valentin Royer.

Top Three Moments

  1. Tennis ball Cluedo

If you have ever watched live scoring of ITF tennis and wondered why it takes so long then look no further. Today, for example, at the National Tennis Centre in Sunderland four courts were in simultaneous use, which meant that tennis balls can, and often did, fly into other courts. That would be frustrating enough for the players, but on the ITF there are no ball kids, meaning that the players are responsible for retrieving their own errant balls.

Adding to the confusion is that the balls are still changed every seven games to keep them fresh. That left players inspecting tennis balls to try and determine, based on the amount of fluff visible, which balls were in need of replacing and which required relocating back to their proper home on another time. Confusing times for all involved.

2nd – Eva Shaw early doors argument

You may think that a 14-year-old at her first senior event and playing against a WTA Tour player might be a bit intimidated or shy and retiring, but Nottingham’s Eva Shaw took the whole of three points to show that that’s not quite her character. She had a long conversation with the umpire about a let that she felt should have been called. Shaw saw a ball rolling onto the court from the next court over and stopped playing. The umpire didn’t see it and awarded the point to Tomova. But Shaw was in the right and it is an encouraging sign that she was willing to stand up for herself.

1st – Jesper De Jong and his scoreboard

De Jong is clearly quite a colourful character and that was on full display in his match against Hodkin today. The teenager found himself playing in a match watched by a rather inattentive official. The ITF Sunderland relies on manually operated scoreboards, with the line judge responsible for updating the scores after each game. But the gentlemen charged with that responsibility kept forgetting to do so. Fortunately, the bemused De Jong was on hand to remind him, a request he delivered with particular animus after breaking serve.

 

ITF Tour Main Photo: Jana Fett in action on the ITF Tour (Getty Images)

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