Gleed/Jones & Tussis/Berstautaite secure titles in Sandbanks!
England’s number 3 pairing of Niko Gleed and Harry Jones took their first title of the year this weekend at the Southern Open, with Lorena Tussis and Gerda Berstautaite capturing the women’s title on the glorious Sandbanks beach.
Sunny weather and warm temperatures created the perfect venue for the first UKBT Open event of the season last weekend; 24 men’s and 15 women’s teams battled it out across the two days of competition, with 8 teams per gender progressing to championship Sunday.
Going into the event, the possibility of former teammates facing off against one another were plentiful, and the draw did not disappoint! England’s Dunbavin/Morgan secured a quarter final victory over Lawson/Soczewka, whilst Scotland’s Stewart/Mexson defeated McKelvie/McHardy for a semi finals berth.
Both teams would go on to finish joint 3rd, with Gleed/Jones defeating Stewart/Mexson and Bello/Seekings defeating Dunbavin/Lawson in their respective semi finals, setting up a final showdown between two of England’s top ranked pairings.
Both teams traded points early in the opening set, but it was Gleed/Jones who made the first break in set 1, converting on some tough service pressure to secure the set 21-17.
Set two saw Bello/Seekings continue to sideout well, with crafty play from Enrique and consistent aggression from Seekings. But the serving pressure of Niko Gleed, coupled with calm sideout from Harry Jones, helped the number seeds open up a gap, securing the set 21-15 and with that, the championship.
Harry Jones was pleased with the performance of his team:
“It was really nice to be able to win our first title of the year at the Southern Open. Obviously we were very disappointed to not qualify in the Madrid Futures event earlier this week, so for us to bounce back mentally and win this event a few days later was a real positive start to the season.”
This was the first time I've played a tournament in Sandbanks since 2019, so a big thank you to DeepDish and UKBT for bringing the Open to Bournemouth!’
This time last year, Lorena Tussis was sitting at home with a severe ACL injury, desperate to step foot on court but unable to participate in any training whatsoever. Fast forward to last weekend, you may never have guessed she was ever injured in the first place!
In the semi finals, Tussis/Bursaitaite came up against England’s Victoria Palmer and Beth Morgan, a new pairing who bounced back from an opening loss on Saturday to make it all the way through to the semi finals. Whilst Palmer/Morgan secured the first set, it was the defensive mastery of Tussis/Berstautaite that allowed them to bounce back in the windy conditions and take a 2-1 victory.
On court 2, Maia Darling and Laura Bugnariu secured their finals birth by defeating Silivia Angelini and Barbara Zorzi; the Italian duo rolled back the years for a impressive performance in the morning quarter finals, but the power and control of Darling/Buganri meant that they finished joint third with Palmer/ Morgan.
The women's final provided yet another three set thriller; Maia Darling, by far the youngest player on court, showed composure and confidence behind her years to help bring her team back from a set behind and force a decider. With both teams hustling for point after point, it was Lorena and Gerda who managed to edge it out 15-13 in the third; and with that victory, the pain of that long standing injury was but a distant memory for Lorena.
The women’s champions were thrilled with their performance as well as the event itself:
“We had a wonderful time in Bournemouth and truly enjoyed our time on court. We had a pure blast having so many tight matches and feeling grateful just being able to compete again.”
Looking for more Open action? The Cardiff Open takes place in Victoria Park on May 27th-28th, hosted by Fire Ball. Entry has been extended to Friday 19th May! For full info on how to enter, click the link below: