Home-grown talent aplenty at annual junior tennis competition
DERBYSHIRE'S tennis players made sure they held their own when hundreds of competitors flocked to the city's David Lloyd centre for its annual national tournament.
Youngster Matty Ferguson impressed as he clinched the eight-and-under mixed singles title, while there were double celebrations for Katy Wilson as she took the 18-and-under girls' singles and the women's singles trophies.
They were among 219 competitors from across the UK who took part in the Winter Grade Three event, with youngsters under the age of eight through to adults over the age of 35 competing at the Pride Park gym.
Dave Barnes, junior racquets manager at David Lloyd, said the local players performed really well.
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He said: "This tournament is a great opportunity for the county's juniors to play in their own environment and, at the same time, check out the rest of the country's competition.
"We saw some amazing performances from our local talents. Even those who didn't win played exceptionally well and worked hard to represent the best the county has to offer."
Ferguson, of Spondon, beat Talia Neilson-Gatenby 10-6 in the final to win his trophy – an opponent he had actually lost to by the same score during the round-robin stage of the competition.
She was the only player he lost a match to, as he beat George Morris, Alex Whitaker and Kieran Edworthy – son of former Rams player Marc Edworthy – to reach the last round.
Barnes said: "Matty is just one of a number of talented young players we're working with at present.
"We want him to try and follow in the footsteps of his older brother, Sam, and fellow player Jay Clarke, who both represented Great Britain at international under-14 level last year.
"Along with Matty's performance, it was also great to see Kieran do so well – he reached the semi-finals before he lost to Matty – and Talia, who trains at Ashby-de-la-Zouch, was also impressive."
Meanwhile, Pinxton teenager Wilson did not drop a set in either of her competitions – blasting her way through to the women's quarter-finals by winning 6-4, 6-1 against Lauren Prince and receiving a walkover in the semi-finals against Jayne Allsopp.
She then went on to beat Maia Dunn 6-1, 6-4 to take the trophy.
In the 18-and-under event, she dispatched Sarah Ashcroft 7-6(6) 6-0 in the quarter-finals and Ellie Horton 6-3, 6-0 in the semi-finals. Her final victory was 7-5, 6-2 against Katy Darke.
Barnes said: "Katy won the 16-and-under event last year so it's great to see her come back and repeat her success – as well as add to it – at a higher level.
"We're always encouraging the girls to go out and compete and it's lovely Katy has proven she had that attitude."
Other notable performances included Horton, who trains once a week at David Lloyd, as she won the 16-and-under girls' singles; William Nolan, of Burton, who took the nine-and-under boys' singles title; and Tiran Sanghera, who has represented Derbyshire, who was the 16-and-under boys' singles winner.
Barnes said: "It was a very impressive week and our youngsters stood up and beat some of the best players the country has to offer."
He added: "We also want to thank Kingstead Lettings for joining us in sponsoring this showcase of local, regional and national tennis talent."