Pair claim real tennis' Billy Ross-Skinner British Mixed Doubles crown at first time of asking

PUBLISHED: 11:48 24 February 2017 | UPDATED: 11:48 24 February 2017

2017 Billy Ross Skinner Real Tennis final winners Izzy Hunt and Ed Popplewell.

2017 Billy Ross Skinner Real Tennis final winners Izzy Hunt and Ed Popplewell.

Archant

Hatfield House Tennis Club hosted the Billy Ross-Skinner British Mixed Doubles tournament, sponsored by Neptune Investment Management, earlier in the month.

Like previous years there were some incredibly close and entertaining matches.

Things hadn’t started well when the day before the competition was due to commence, two of the top ranking ladies pulled out due to illness and injury.

Luckily no other groups were affected and all participants delivered some great tennis.

The early front runners were Helen-Frances Pilkington and Anthony Jenks, who won through their group with the loss of only three games, and Sara Metherell and George Foxall who beat another strong pair in Izzy Hunt and Ed Popplewell 6-5, 6-5 to take their place in the quarter-finals.

Thanks to the format though Hunt and Popplewell had another chance to get through and they did just that, storming through that match and then on to the semi-final.

Things had gone well for the Hatfield players in the early rounds as six locals made it through to the quarter-final stage, but sadly of those only Alex Brodie and David Barnes made it to the semi-finals.

There they took on Hunt and Popplewell in what turned out to be a topsy-turvy match.

The first set flew by in a flash with Hunt and Popplewell cruising it 6-0.

The Hatfield players narrowly took the second set 6-5 with the crowd getting fully involved in proceedings.

With the final set starting 3-3 it was nip and tuck all the way with both men beginning to look tired, but eventually Hunt and Popplewell prevailed 6-4 to reach the final.

The second semi-final was an equally see-saw affair as Pilkington and Jenks took on Katie Leppard and Geoffrey Russell who had earlier despatched Metherell and Foxall in an excellent quarter-final.

Pilkington and Jenks took the first set 6-1 only for Leppard and Russell to take the second set by the same scoreline.

Pilkington and Jenks saw out the match 6-5 to set up a much-anticipated final with Hunt and Popplewell.

The final was another hard-fought battle with all players playing some excellent tennis with the volleying and retrieving of the ladies particularly impressive as it had been throughout the event.

There was never more than two games between the pairs in the first set with Hunt and Popplewell eventually claiming it 6-5.

This was to prove crucial as this time they got up in the second set too and never looked back, finally securing it 6-3 to win the tournament at the first attempt for either player.

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