Charles Sharpes and Millie Tomlinson both successfully defended their titles at the 19th annual Boston Open.
It was the first time that both titles have been retained since 1998, when Paul Lord and Rebecca Macree each followed up their victories in 1997’s inaugural Open.
The tournament had more closely-fought matches than the previous year. Indeed, Friday began with an excellent five-set match in the men’s qualifier between Tom Bamford and Dan Bergin, with Bamford coming from 2-0 down to win 12/10 in the fifth in 56 minutes. Stuart MacGregor and Dan McGinn also progressed through to the first round of 16.
The event was soon in full swing as the women took to court for their first round of 16, with two sets of three simultaneous matches requiring the use of one of the club’s rainbow courts. Gina Kennedy received a walkover while Jessica Davis and Mari Taylor progressed in straight sets. Victoria Temple-Murray won in 25 minutes in the only match of the round to go beyond three games, as Xisela Aranda – who had flown from Spain specifically for the Open - and Rachel Chadwick also eased through.
It had already been dark for some hours when the men’s round of 16 began at 6pm. The match of the round was surely Charles Sharpes, the men’s top seed, against Owain Taylor from Wales. Taylor pushed into a 10/6 lead from 6/6 in the first, and put the game away after his opponent won a couple of points back. The following game was almost the complete reverse in Sharpes’ favour. The top seed then took the third at a canter, 11/0, and then the fourth game and the match – dominating the second half of the game after a topsy-turvy, even start.
Second seed Nick Mulvey wasn’t given an easy time either. After taking the first game he found himself trailing 2-1 to Tom Bamford. He eventually won 11/5 in the fifth in 46 minutes. Lincolnshire’s Harry Falconer progressed as did 3/4 seeds Robert Dadds and Ben Ford.
Onto day two which, unlike the first, began with relatively straightforward matches. Gina Kennedy made her first appearance after receiving a walkover in the round of 16, and beat Jessica Davis in straight sets. Defending champion Millie Tomlinson also had her first match of the tournament, and also progressed in three games (not surprising considering she didn’t drop a game during the entire event the previous year). Rachel Chadwick, on the back of an impressive 15-minute win in the last round, took the first game against top seed Madeline Perry on a tiebreak, but Perry won 3-1 to make the semis against Victoria Temple-Murray, who beat Xisela Aranda 3-0.
Among all the on-court action the club welcomed two notable visitors. Four times Boston Open winner and former world #4 Tania Bailey arrived with her family, and Boston and Skegness MP Matt Warman visited to see the club and its annual professional tournament in full swing.
As morning became afternoon, the men’s quarters got underway. Charles Sharpes progressed with a victory more emphatic than in the previous round, taking 20 minutes to dispatch Taminder Gata-Aura. 3/4 seed Ben Ford had a closely fought encounter with Rory Stewart, winning 12/10 in a tense fifth set. That match included 23 decisions for the referee and 2 conduct warnings.
Fellow 3/4 seed Robert Dadds also progressed, winning 3-1 in 40 minutes against Harry Falconer from Grimsby. Following Ford and Stewart’s lengthy match, Paul Rawden and Nick Mulvey – 2 familiar faces - were last on court ahead of the evening’s semi-finals. This saw the first major upset as Rawden won 3-1 to knock out the second seed.
The women’s draw continued to go to seeding in the evening’s semi-finals. Millie Tomlinson and Georgina Kennedy were first on court 5. In two years playing the tournament Tomlinson had yet to not be in control of a match here in Boston and that streak continued as she managed a straightforward win.
Madeline Perry beat Victoria Temple-Murray in a similar fashion. The former world #3 was only ever behind by more than a point when 3/1 down in the first game.
In the first men’s semi-final Charles Sharpes won the first game 11/5, but for the next two games Ben Ford made life more difficult for the #1 seed. Ford recovered from 10/7 down in the second to have a gameball himself at 11/10, but lost 13/11 to go 2-0 down in games. The 3/4 still sped into a 6/0 lead in the third, however, going on to win it. But Sharpes was assured in the fourth game to take the win. Ford had competed in a quarter-final over three times as long as his opponent’s.
Paul Rawden took a 5/2 lead in the first set of the second semi-final, but a run of 7 points helped Dadds to come back and take a 1-0 lead. The second game was close up to 6/6 but Dadds pulled away to take a 2-0 lead, and was always on top in the third as he booked his place in the final.
The women’s final was undoubtedly a classic in the tournament’s 19-year history. World #45 Tomlinson beat top seed and former world #3 Madeline Perry 6/11, 12/10, 11/8, 9/11, 11/5. The five-set encounter was a slog between two evenly matched players, with neither finalist ever building a substantial lead until Tomlinson pushed to victory at the very end of a 70-minute battle.
Sharpes simply proved too good in the men’s final against 3/4 seed Robert Dadds, winning in straight sets as he had the previous year against Doug Kempsell, who was forced to withdraw from 2015’s tournament through injury. The top seed took half an hour to win 11/8, 11/6, 11/3, and in truth was in control throughout.
Speaking after the presentations, Sharpes said: “I played it [the Boston Open] last year. I obviously came back which I was really happy to.
“19 years in a row [of this event] is an incredible effort, hopefully it’ll bring it up to 20.”