With summer days now consigned to the distant past, crisp tones filled the air as the University of Birmingham’s ladies tennis team arrived at University House in preparation for their imminent clash against their Team Warwick counterparts. A Midlands Tier 1 BUCS clash, Wednesday’s West Midlands Derby lived up to expectations at the Tennis Centre.
In a hotly anticipated meeting between two evenly matched squads, it was the home side that built an early lead, but it wasn’t to last as Birmingham fought back in the doubles to earn a valuable draw on their travels. Team Warwick, led by captain, Reka Szalai, started the match in fine form, sweeping the opening three singles matches of the event in straight sets.
On Court 1, Szalai charged to a resounding lead in the opening stages of the top seed encounter. Building from solid fundamentals, Szalai dominated the match from the baseline, although it was her forays to the net that proved instrumental to Team Warwick’s opening victory of the day. Malina Comah and Clara Vaziri were equally dominated for the home side, dropping only three games between them as they strolled to victory on Courts 3 and 4.
Fitkih was unable to make her defensive efforts pay, falling to a narrow defeat
Meanwhile on Court 2, a fierce battle between Arielle Fitkih and Aleksandra Rychlewska ended in disappointment for the home side. In a set almost bereft of service holds, Fitkih was unable to overturn a first set deficit in the face of a determined performance from Birmingham’s second seed. Despite leading at stages in the second set, Fitkih was unable to make her defensive efforts pay, falling to a narrow 4-6; 7-5 defeat in the singles.
Rychlewska’s resolve seemed to buoy Birmingham’s traveling contingent as the sides locked horns once again, this time in the doubles. Nuria Mellado and Alexandra Naraevschi combined to produce the winning touch for Birmingham, beating Comani and Vaziri 6-4; 2-6 to leave the travelling side in with a chance of earning a draw if they could secure victory on Court 1.
Despite starting strongly, Szalai and Fitkih were unable to fight off a late charge from Chigariro and Rychlewska. In a final set full of drama, it was Birmingham who possessed the winning formula, levelling the tie with a dramatic 3-6; 6-4; 11-9 win in the doubles.
As autumnal tones recede into wintery hues, Warwick’s tennis stars will be hoping to build upon their fine start against Birmingham in their next fixture, a trip to Nottingham Trent on Wednesday 6th November. After collecting their first point of the season, Team Warwick remain fifth in the standings.
University of Warwick | Szalai 6-0; 6-1 Chigariro | University of Birmingham
University of Warwick | Fitkih 4-6; 5-7 Rychlewska | University of Birmingham
University of Warwick | Coman 6-1; 6-0 Mellado | University of Birmingham
University of Warwick | Szalai/Fitkih 6-3; 4-6; 9-11 Chigariro/Rychlewska | University of Birmingham
University of Warwick | Coman/Vaziri 4-6; 2-6 Mellado/Naraevschi | University of Birmingham
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