Hello My Friends!
I officially won my first British Open Singles title last night, defeating Steve Virgona in the Final. This is definitely a feather in the cap of my last two years. The British Open is regarded as the premier event in our game, and it is a privilege to have won it. Alongside that, I am only the second American to have ever won the tournament!
The match was an absolute epic, with Steve and I both playing smart tennis and struggling to maintain control over the match. The first set I came out strong, dictating play and trying my best to gain an early lead. It worked as we traded a few games but I managed to grab the first set 6/3. I was hitting railroads but Steve was starting to be able to turn on them, which I knew would be a problem later in the match. Steve was serving sidewall railroads as well, which I was able to take advantage of.
The second set Steve changed to a demi-pk serve from the middle of the court. This took most of the pace off of the ball, and made me have to use more of my own strength on my cut volley. It definitely changed the pace of the game, and made it much more difficult to dictate play. For some reason I decided my game plan, which had worked in the first set, wasn’t the one I wanted to stick to. This of course is the worst thing you can do, and Steve took full advantage. I started to play at his pace and style of play, boasting and forcing more while losing control over my length. Steve was ahead the entire set, and even though I battled he took the set 6/3.
The third set saw me lose my focus and Steve control all elements of play. My error count went way up, and Steve controlled the service end for most of the set. Due to the inability to hit railroads, Steve could chip galleries very easily off of my serves, which made staying at the service end difficult. This is the hardest part about playing at Queens Club. In order to win, you have to stick to a very specific set of shots and game plan, which can be incredibly fought o do mentally. The set didn’t take very long and went to Steve 6/0.
At the start of the fourth set I had time to regain my composure, settling down a bit and focusing more on what was happening on the court. This allowed me to regain focus and start back with my original game plan. I took the first game without dropping a point, and that filled me with the confidence I needed to stick with the plan. Steve battled with my for most of the fourth set, but I always had the lead and control. Even when we had close games, I felt they were mine to win, which is very different then the earlier sets. I took the set 6/3 and we were on to a final set!!
The final set was very up and down, both Steve and I were trying to win the mental chess match as well as the physical one. Both hitting galleries regularly from the receivers end in hopes on doing damage from the service end. Steve took a 3/1 lead before I found my cut volley, and a good range on my serve. I fought back with two strong games to tie it at 3/3, and then took control of the service end. Serving well and returning well over the next few games were crucial to my win, and were my strongest mental showing of the night. I wasn’t happy with my mental for most of the night, but for the last set I was proud of how I put it on when needed. I dominated from 3/3 to take a quick 5/3 lead, and from there grabbed 40/0 after beating two second gallery chases. We then had a great rally ending up with a backhand error from Steve and that was the match!! The final score being 6/3 3/6 0/6 6/3 6/3
Looking back at the match, I had many good and bad areas within my game, but most importantly I pulled myself together and focused on the task at hand when needed to win the match. Truly one of my tougher matches, and a hell of one to play! The toughness of the match has just made the winning the title feel that much better. This has been a long tournament, with so many of the top players wanting to win.
There was a great crowd in the night being vocal for both players, and encouraging our play throughout the night. After the match there was a trophy presentation on court, and I then attended the Championship dinner at one of the beautiful rooms in the Queens Club. A huge thank you must be said to Neptune for sponsoring the event, the Queens Club for allowing us to use their facilities, and the Pros for organizing and marking the matches.
My work here is not done though, as the Doubles Final takes place tonight and has shaped up to be another tough battle. Tim Chisholm and I take on Rob Fahey and Bryn Sayers for the title. It promises to be a great battle with the top players in the world on both ends of the court. The match starts at 6PM UK time and will feature score updates on twitter or at IRPTA.com
Thanks for all of the messages I have received since the match, they have mad eke feel so special and loved by you all. I truly would not be here and able to claim this title without your support. Below are a few images from the match as well.