As is traditional we finished our summer of competition at the Kent Closed Championships. The Kent Closed is only open to players from Kent and crowns champions from 8U to Adult. This year we were represented by 11 players including all 7 of the Appeti Tennis School. Pupils.
This is the 11th Kent Closed to be attended by the Appeti Tennis team and it was 10 years ago that we had our first Kent champion!
Our week began with a departure from the normal format with lower ranked players having to qualify for the main draw. In the Boys 14U Joseph, Toby and Seb all had to play qualifying. They all made it through to the main draw and joined Ciaran and Ollie who were already in due to their ranking. As the number 1 player in Kent Ollie was seeded 1.
In the Girls 16U Marta and Amelia both had to qualify and even though they were put in the same box they both made it through. In the Boys 16U Ciaran Brewer qualified only to be given a very tough draw against Felix Enslin, the number 5 seed. Ciaran, who has had a fantastic summer, battled hard and beat the Sevenoaks youngster 6-4, 6-3.
He would now face Charlie Penman who had beaten the experienced Keean De Villiers in the first round. In one of the best matches of the week Ciaran took an incredibly close set 7-6 but lost the second 2-6, meaning a match tiebreak would give a place in the quarter finals, Ciaran showed the resolve that has seen him go deep in Grade 3 tournaments all summer and won the tiebreak 10-4.
With the main draws now under way some interesting Appeti v Appeti matches were on the cards. In the Boys 14’s Ciaran played fellow Tennis School pupil Toby Froud. Toby threw everything at Ciaran but it was not enough and Ciaran took the match 6-2, 6-3. Having won that match, Ciaran then had to take on close friend and number 1 seed Ollie, in an incredible example of ball striking Ollie came through 6-3, 6-4.
This match proved Ollie’s toughest in his run to the Boys 14’s Final, where he would play Oscar Brown who beat number 2 seed Christopher Johnson in the quarter finals.
Ciaran and Ollie faced each other again in the quarter finals of the Boys 16’s, with Ollie once again winning an incredibly close and exciting match.
Eb Appeti said “ If we had not been so unlucky with the draws this could have been the final, Ciaran has played fantastic tennis this summer and this match shows that he will soon become a Kent Champion himself ”
Ollie who was seeded 3 in the 16’s made it through to the semi finals before losing to eventual winner and number 1 seed Harvey Conway.
In the Boys 12U there were 2 standout matches of the week, the first saw Ulrich take on Rory Marles, the number 2 seed, Ulrich, who at only 10 years old, is still a green ball player took the number 2 seed to a third set before being vanquished 5-10 in the match tiebreak. Seb had an equally great first round match where he was pitted against Angus Howard, this match again saw a third set and unfortunately Seb lost after a massive 14-12 match tiebreaker!
After the match Eb Appeti said “ Seb has improved beyond measure during 2016 and his natural attacking game will be a real asset in years to come! ”
In the Boys 10’s Ulrich was seeded 2, after some tricky encounters Ulrich battled through to the final where he would play number 1 seed Hugo Coquelin.
With 2 boys in the finals of the singles the week was going well but in the girls Marta was about to play some of her best tennis of the year and show why she will soon be at the top of Kent Tennis.
Having come through qualifying Marta was given a very tricky first round of the 16’s in Theodora Enslin, Theodora, who is a very accomplished Kent team player, took the first set 6-4 before Marta forced a match tiebreak by winning the second 7-5, the match tiebreak was epic with Marta failing to convert 2 match points before losing it 10-12. Although disappointing this match was to be just the warm up for a fantastic run in the 14’s.
Marta’s tough draw saw her first round match being a repeat of the Road to Wimbledon County Finals, where in July Marta had lost 3-5, 0-4 to Georgia Lancaster. But Marta was not worried. The match started strong and Marta took a 2-1 lead with an early break, she then ran out the set 6-3. With composure Marta then took the second set for a great win 6-3, 6-3 against the Kent County player.
Marta would now face experienced Kent team player Emma Sawkings, Sawkings, the Kent number 7 and number 4 seed, was vastly more experienced and expected to win but Marta had other ideas!
The match started very tentatively with neither player making many mistakes and Marta having to deal with the power of Sawkings, after the closest of sets Marta managed to nudge ahead to win 7-5. Marta knew she had to take this first set as Sawkings was to strong for Marta to take on from behind. The second set saw Sawkings make a ferocious start with 3 winners in the first game, she soon took a 3 game lead before a stunned Marta started to get back in the match, although close from there on Marta lost the set 0-6.
So into the third set it went and what a set it was. Marta knew to have any chance she needed the first game and she did to 30, however after that every game would be a battle. A ‘Kent Tennis’ crowd gathered to support Sawkings but Marta refused to give anything away and every game from 1-0 to 5-4 went to deuce with both players showing why they deserved to be in the quarter finals. After 9 games, 8 had been contested to deuce and Marta was 1 game away from one of the biggest upsets of the week.
Sawkings came out to serve and gave the first point away through a double fault, this one point advantage gave Marta the extra edge and belief she needed. Cheered on by coaches Tim and Eb Marta took a 0-40 lead and then rifled a backhand cross court winner to clinch the match 7-5, 0-6, 6-4. Wow, wow, wow…….. unseeded Marta was in the semi finals of the Kent Closed at only 13 years old with only 3 years tennis under her belt, the future is looking bright!
Eb Appeti said “ Marta has only played 3 events this summer and each occasion she has surpassed her seeding and beaten top players. This year has been massive for Marta and her rate of progression has been huge. I think beating 2 Kent players in one week and taking a third to match point shows Marta is progressing at a fantastic rate! ”
On Friday 3 of our youngest players travelled to Bromley for the 8U Championships. Jake, Charlie and Stuart were as eager as ever to compete. They knew the competition would be tough and approached it how every 8 year old should with big smiles and bags of enthusiasm.
The tournament started with a knock out stage, where all three players played well. Stuart won 1 match, Charlie won 2 and Jake won 3. After the boxes Jake progressed to the knock out stage where unfortunately he lost to Arran Avril. The guys had a great day and in total won 10 matches. Well done boys!
As usual Charlie was accompanied by the unofficial Appeti Tennis mascot, Esme, who together with Marta’s 3 brothers made up the weeks youngest cheering section, all 4 of them being under 5!
As the weekend approached Appeti Tennis were well represented with 4 doubles and 4 singles semi final places. In the boy’s draw Ollie Richards won the 14’s but lost in the 16’s, Marta lost to Kent team tennis player Charlotte Imbert, the eventual champion, 3-6, 2-6 and Ulrich won the 10’s semi 4-1, 4-2 against Martino Colabella, the number 3 seed!
In the doubles Ollie was partnered with his Kent team mate Keean De Villiers in the boys 14’s doubles, in the semis they beat Luca Pavan and Charlie Penman 7-6, 6-2. In the girls doubles Marta joined forces with Amelia to take on Phoebe-Mireille Ecuyer-Dale and Amy Fotheringham, unfortunately the number 2 seeds were too strong and won in straight sets.
In the mixed doubles we had great success with both Ollie and Georgia Lancaster making the final with a 6-0, 6-0 win over Archibald Coquelin and Janani Sivayogan and Ciaran and Marta beating Michael Smirnov and Anais Fernandez-Laaksonen 6-1, 6-3 to set up an Appeti dominated mixed doubles final!
So Sunday 28th August would see 4 players from the Appeti Tennis School compete to become Kent Champions, 1 in 5 matches on finals day would involve an Appeti player!
The day began with the first of Ollie’s 3 finals, Ollie was in a great position where he could win all three finals in his age group. Oscar Brown was seeded 5 and had beaten the number 2 and 7 seed to make the final. The match was understandably nervy for both players and with Ollie seeded 1 it was clear Oscar wanted one more upset. Oscar threw everything he had at Ollie to win the first set 6-3. Although not happy at the loss of the first set Ollie composed himself and clearly noticed that Oscar had given everything to bank the set. Ollie chose to make the rallies longer and grind Oscar down, this tactic proved right with the next 2 sets going easily to Ollie for a 3-6, 6-0, 6-1 win.
This was Ollie’s second year as Kent Champion retaining the title he won last year. This would be Ollie last singles match as a 14U player, not a bad way to go out!
On court 1 Ulrich had begun his knock up, meaning no rest for coach Tim as he settled in for the boys 10’s final. Ulrich, seeded 2, was pitted against number 1 seed Hugo Coquelin. Ulrich came out of the blocks strong, winning the first set 4-2 with power and placement to the corners. In the second set Hugo would change his tactics and force Ulrich to rally longer using higher groundstrokes to keep Ulrich back. This tactic proved productive with Ulrich losing the set 2-4. So a match tiebreak would decide the Kent champs, the tiebreak started well with each player matching their opponent to 3 all, unfortunately after that Ulrich made a few errors and served 3 double faults making it impossible to stay competitive, ultimately Hugo won 2-4, 4-2, 10-4.
Well done Ulrich on a great run to the final!
At one win and one loss for the day the third match gave us all a chance to relax as the 14’s mixed final featured 3 Appeti Tennis School pupils with Marta and Ciaran taking on Ollie and Kent Tennis’ Georgia Lancaster.
The match was competitive from the start with the first 4 games went with serve. A break in the 5th game changed the tone of the match and although Ciaran and Marta threw everything at Ollie and Georgia the number 1 seeds were too strong and won the match 6-3, 6-3 to give Ollie his second title of the day.
The day concluded with Ollie rejoining his doubles partner Keean for the boys 14’s final, the match was over quickly 6-2, 6-2. Interestingly, Ollie had beaten his partner and both opponents in singles during the week which reinforced the fact that he was truly the best 14u boy at the Kent Closed!
Ollie’s long time coach Tim Bean said “ Obviously it is a fantastic achievement that Ollie was able to defend two titles from last year, the singles and boys doubles and add a third with the mixed. Ollie dealt with the pressure of being the number 1 seed really well and it tops off a great summer of competition for him! “