Major UK tournament shows real tennis is still very much king down at Hatfield House
PUBLISHED: 06:20 15 February 2020
Hatfield House is not only synonymous with royalty but also with real tennis and all eyes were on the stately home as they played host to the premiere mixed doubles tournament in the UK.
The Billy Ross Skinner Invitational Mixed Doubles saw the top 12 available female players from clubs across the country take part in a full weekend of action.
The group stages began on the Friday with the finals taking place on Sunday.
Three groups of four battled it out initially with Sophie Dannreuther and Nick Brodie making quick work of progressing to the semi-finals followed by Alex Brodie and Julian Stafford.
In the other half of the draw Sue Haswell and Simon Mansfield were joined by Louise Mercier and Simon Talbot-Williams.
To reach the last four, the pairings had battled through four three-set matches so stamina and concentration were key.
The first semi-final went the full distance with Brodie and Stafford making certain of their place in the final despite a 6-0 loss in the second set, the final score 6-5 0-6 6-4.
Former winner Haswell and her playing partner Mansfield put on a commanding performance to beat Mercier and Talbot-Williams 6-2 6-2 in the other semi.
The final saw a full viewing gallery and they were not disappointed with what they saw.
Brodie and Stafford started strongly with the former hitting her trademark volleys with deadly power and accuracy while this was countered by Haswell's shot selection and consistency.
Mansfield and Stafford played their part too in what was a hard-fought contest but by the time the dust settled Haswell and Mansfield had claimed a 6-4 6-5 victory.
A spokesman for Hatfield House Real Tennis Club said: "This tournament is always well attended by spectators and supported by the club members who help organise and run the event.
"Breakfast, lunch and supper are provided throughout to keep the players well fuelled and the professional team are at hand throughout.
"This tournament would not be possible without our generous sponsors the Jesters and the Dedanists.
"The Jesters made a significant contribution to cost of the tournament which is greatly appreciated.
"The Dedanists' contribution ensures that all sub 24-year-old players are fully supported and encouraged to play at the highest level both now and in the future."