World champion Charlotte Cornwallis and Karen Hird, the favourites strolled through their quarter-final of the British Open Women’s Real Tennis doubles championship, at Seacourt, Hayling Island, overpowering Gill Goddard and Sue Bicheno in straight sets. The other seeded pairs had a similarly straightforward passage to the semis, apart from Caroline Gilmore and the Austalian professional Susan Castley, the fourth seeds, who were made to fight all the way by the hard-hitting Juliette Lambert and Jo Crera. Castley and Gilmore dropped the opening set and after levelling the match at set-all, they also trailed in the decider but at 4-all, cut out the errors and went for their shots more boldy to snatch it 6-4. They now face the daunting prospect of a meeting with Cornwallis and Hird for a place in the final, while home favourite Alex Garside, a former world doubles champion, and Aldona Greenwood, the third seeds, take on the world’s top junior Claire Vigrass, 17, and US number 1 Freddy Adam.
Vigrass, who is seeded 2 in the singles and takes on her major rival Karen Hird in today’s semi-final, has just been awarded a prestigious 8-month scholarship to play and train at Lord’s Queen’s and Hampton court, starting in September, with time off to compete at major championships around the world. The Essex youngster, who is currently mentored by Seacourt professional Ricardo Smith and Paul Weaver, is already being tipped as a future world champion, thanks to her natural talent, imposing physical presence and dedication to her craft. However she has had to put academic matters before her Real tennis career, at least until her A levels are over and sadly, cannot play in this year’s world championship at Newport, Rhode Island in May because of the pressure of exams. Instead, she is already setting her sights on the next worlds, in 2011 and aiming to upset her main rivals, Hird and Cornwallis over this finals weekend.
Results: Seacourt, Hayling Island, Hants. British Open Women’s Real Tennis championships
Doubles Quarter-finals: (Names British unless stated.)
C.Cornwallis/ K.Hird bt G.Goddard/ S Bicheno 6-0 6-0
S.Castley (Australia) /C.Gilmore bt J.Lambert/ J.Crerar 4-6 6-3 6-4
A.Garside/ A.Greenwood bt J.Miller/E.Campione 6-0 6-0
F.Adam (US)/ C.Vigrass bt: H.Dunn/ L.Hutchinson