Gallery: Hatfield player nets mixed doubles title after late call-up
PUBLISHED: 16:57 10 February 2009 | UPDATED: 21:44 26 October 2009
HATFIELD House tennis player Steve Brewerton netted the British mixed doubles title on Sunday - after being called up to the tournament as a last-minute replacement. Brewerton was drafted into the competition on Friday night to partner defending champion
HATFIELD House tennis player Steve Brewerton netted the British mixed doubles title on Sunday - after being called up to the tournament as a last-minute replacement.
Brewerton was drafted into the competition on Friday night to partner defending champion Karen Hird.
Her scheduled doubles partner, Bristol & Bath member David Pigott, found himself snowbound in the West Country and was unable to make Hatfield in time.
Holyport ace Hird and Brewerton beat Hatfield House player Catherine Walker and Oxford's Anthony Clake 3-6, 6-4, 6-4 in an exciting and fluctuating final on Sunday afternoon at the stately home.
This enabled Karen, on her 20th birthday and still no more than 5ft tall, to retain the title she won last year with Cambridge's Andrew Petrie.
Hird and Brewerton started the final nervously, making a number of unforced errors and Karen completely lost length on her serve.
In contrast, their opponents looked sharp and found the winning targets to open up a 3-1 lead, which could easily have been 4-1 after they led 40-0 in the next game.
At this point, Hird and Brewerton dug in to claw their way back to level at 3-3 before a further loss of confidence gave Walker and Clake the opening set 6-3.
The second set was very tight and played to a high standard, with good aggression and excellent defending from both sides.
Games alternated up to 4-4, but at sudden death in the ninth, Hird and Brewerton won a long and crucial rest to lead 5-4 and then went on to take the set 6-4.
The deciding set was started at 3-3 and Walker and Clake took an early lead.
But with Hird now playing with the freedom she had shown earlier in the tournament and with Brewerton serving his left-handed railroad to good effect, the pair took control of the final, winning three successive games to win the set 6-3 and take the title.
Hatfield player Walker and Clake could consider themselves unlucky to be on the losing side of the net.
Catherine played consistently well throughout and Clake's range of serves caused all sorts of problems.
In the final analysis, it was Hird's boundless energy and her ability to reach, if not retrieve most balls, combined with Brewerton's calm exterior, especially when volleying at the net, that was decisive.
Their opponents' tough semi against Holyport's Jill Newby and Queens player Dominic Wright may have had some effect as well.
But it must have been especially galling for them to have beaten the eventual champions in the first round, only to see them reprieved through the repecharge system and win the final.
Hird and Brewerton, meanwhile, had an easy ride in the semis, when Hatfield's Jonathan Fisher and Manchester partner Aldona Greenwood had to retire through injury having lost the first set 6-0.