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Sharpes and Tomlinson take Open crowns

Top seeds Charles Sharpes and Millie Tomlinson both secured straight-set final victories to win the men’s and women’s titles at the 18th annual BSPA Boston Open.

In the men’s first round, Dan McGinn and James Peach recorded two straight-set wins to kick proceedings off on Friday afternoon. Mark Hildred achieved his first win in the tournament which he first entered in 1997. He recovered from being 2-1 and 9/7 down against Jeremy Harris to book his place in the second round after an 11/2 win in the fifth, and Gordon Harpur beat Sam Burton. Lincolnshire’s Harry Falconer lost 3-0 against Stuart George, but forced his opponent into long rallies and games, as shown by the total match time of 42 minutes.

At 6pm a busy second session commenced with the last 16 of the men’s and women’s draws. This resulted in matches taking place across four courts simultaneously – including one featuring the actual tournament organiser - Mark Hildred, who lost to Patrick Rooney.

The other men’s second round matches saw 3/4 seed Bryan Byrne dispatch Josh Turmel, while Paul Rawden managed to squeeze a win into 35 minutes despite having trailed 2-0 to Will Harris. Dan McGinn was competitive but lost a close third game 14/12 as top seed Charles Sharpes progressed into the quarters without dropping a game. Keith Timms beat Tom Chitty in the longest match of the day (48 minutes).

James Peach was playing well and did pull the score back to 2-1 with a third game victory, but ultimately he was unable to cause an upset against second seed Doug Kempsell. In the final matches of the day, 3/4 seed Nick Mulvey survived a close first game to beat Stuart George 3-0, and Robert Dadds beat Gordon Harpur as the clock ticked to 9pm.

The first women’s match of the tournament saw 3/4 seed Lucy Beecroft beat Hannah Shipley in a quarter of an hour. In an absorbing game Kirsty West beat Ali Hemmingway, who was agonisingly close to taking the match to a deciding fifth set, losing 14/12 in the fourth.

Emma Custace-Baker and Mari Taylor were next on the hardback rainbow court, with the latter winning 3-1. Emily Peach and Alison Thomson [3/4] followed on, with the latter booking her place in the quarters while Olivia Howell beat the returning Roxy Keshavarz 3-0.

The quarters went to seeding on day two. Lucy Beecroft recorded another straight-set win, this time against Steph Walton. Jessica Davis had a slightly trickier quarter-final against Kirsty West, but recovered from a second set defeat to win a close third 12/10 and eventually the match 3-1.

Millie Tomlinson recorded a comfortable win over Mari Taylor: 11/5, 11/6, 11/1. Alison Thomson came out on top in the last quarter-final, beating Olivia Howell 3-1 in a match of careful, steady rallies with few unforced errors.

The men’s quarters followed immediately. Charles Sharpes again won without conceding a game, while Bryan Byrne booked his place against Sharpes in the semis courtesy of a 3-1 win.

In an intense match Patrick Rooney presented second seed Doug Kempsell with a much sterner test than the 19 points he won would suggest, but despite getting to within a point of Doug at 9/8 down in the third, a nick left him to exclaim “oh no” as Kempsell progressed into the last four. Difficult three-game wins were a theme, with Nick Mulvey also winning a high tempo quarter-final against Robert Dadds 3-0.

The evening’s semis saw the women back in action. Jessica Davis twice levelled after Lucy Beecroft had taken the lead in games, but Beecroft built on the good short game that she displayed in the first four games and was on top form to take the fifth set at a canter, 11/1.

The other women’s semi was one of attrition. Top seed Millie Tomlinson proved very hard to win points against. This combined with Alison Thomson’s endeavour to produce some viciously long rallies, as proven by the fact that the match time for Millie’s 3-0 victory was the same as the other, five-set women’s semi at 35 minutes.

In the first of the men’s semi-finals top seed Charles Sharpes beat Bryan Byrne 9/11, 11/8, 11/6, 15/13. The fourth set was certainly the best game of the event. After Charles came from behind to lead 2-1, Bryan was fighting to stay in the tournament – and it showed. With Sharpes on a matchball at 10/9 a magnificent rally was played which was over 50 shots long. After the top seed tinned the ball, a topsy-turvy tie-break concluded when Sharpes won two consecutive strokes to take the game 15/13 and the match 3-1. 52 minutes the match time.

The one match to beat that semi-final for length was the last one of the day, between Doug Kempsell and Nick Mulvey. The four-set clash was a remarkable 61 minutes, with only 15 refereeing decisions made in that time. After Nick Mulvey levelled the games score at 1-1 following a tie-break victory, Doug dug deep to win the third set 14/12 after both players had wasted gameballs. That appeared to break the back of the challenge for the second seed, as he then took a significant lead in the final set, which he took 11/4.

Sunday’s finals belonged to Sharpes and Tomlinson – two young class acts. Millie won the final as she had every other match – without dropping a game. Lucy Beecroft had played well to upset the seedings and beat Jessica Davis to the final courtesy of the only five-set match of the ladies’ event, but found it difficult to compete with the pace and movement of Tomlinson, who took 19 minutes to win 11/4, 11/5, 11/3.

The men’s final was just under half an hour. Despite Sharpes taking a 4/0 lead in the first game, Kempsell brought it back to trail 6/7, but the top seed then pulled away to take the game 11/6 and the second set comfortably, 11/2. The final game took much the same shape as the first, leaving Sharpes to take the winner’s cheque: 11/6, 11/2, 11/6.

The presentations took place afterwards, and tournament organiser Mark Hildred thanked the volunteers and officials.

Charles Sharpes also said a few words, “Thank you to everyone’s who has helped organise the tournament, and all the referees for coming down. It’s been a massive help having the good quality of refereeing.

“It’s the event’s 18th year which is incredible. Thanks for the continued support and hopefully there’s another 18 years to come.”

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