GB women claim 9th place in Seniors World Champs

GB’s seniors women have been hailed as ‘awesome’ after they maintained their global standing with a superb ninth place finish at the recent FIP Seniors World Padel Championships in Alicante.

With strong displays throughout the squad, exemplified by co-captains Dawn Foxhall and Jo Ward, the GB women came within a whisker of matching their eighth placed finish last time out in Las Vegas.

However, they were thwarted by Argentina in their last match of the tournament. The South Americans, unranked because they didn’t compete at the previous Championships, found themselves contesting 8-14th positions after being drawn with Spain in the group stages.

In the group stages, it was a case of one win and one loss for the GB women. They opened with a 5-0 hammering of Norway. However, in the deciding group match against Italy the going was tougher, with the pairing of Ward and Foxhall winning their match to avoid a whitewash.

Dawn Foxhall, Libby Fletcher and Jo Ward.

In the battle for positions 8-14th, the Brits took an unassailable 3-0 lead against Denmark, with wins for Sally Fisher and Louise Baker, Helen Crook and Victoria Davies, with Ward and Foxhall maintaining their winning record as the ladies took the tie 3-2.

This set up an encounter against Germany. As with their match against the Danes, it followed a similar pattern with the same trio pairings all winning in a 3-2 victory.

Argentina lay in wait but proved too strong and claimed eighth spot with a comprehensive 5-0 win against the Brits.

Foxhall said: “We have done so well at the worlds as we’re only a young padel nation. We’ve come ninth out of 22 teams, which is just awesome,  having been eighth out of 16 last time. We were unfortunate to be drawn against third seeds Italy in the groups. Had we drawn maybe the fifth, sixth or seventh seeds then who knows.

“The levels of competition are increasing but we have such a committed bunch of girls. They are playing and training at all times of the day and in all weathers because that’s what they have to do because there are not the facilities or the availability.

“The absolute highlight for me was on day two of the championship. We had all of the pairs out and every single pair won their match – at a world championships. That is just a phenomenal achievement – and it has left everyone in the team wanting more of the same.

“Had it not been for Sally’s (Fisher) vision to get this off the ground this wouldn’t be possible. We owe her a huge thanks. Now we want to push forward and get more consistency. If we can get more support or sponsorship then that will certainly assist us to achieve this.”

The GB women's seniors squad.
The GB women almost maintained their previous Seniors World Champs final position despite stiffer competition and new countires entering the tournament.

Learning curve

As for the men’s, they had to settle for 19th spot out of the 24 teams competing. They lost their opening group match 3-2 against Finland and then lost 5-0 to Mexico. This left the Brits contesting the spots from 17-24. They overcame Czechia 3-2 with wins from Tim Webb and John Byrne, Berislav Bobus and Benjamin Gudzelac, with Richard Brooks and Michael Tolman sealing the win in the fourth rubber.

Victory set up tie with Uruguay. Brooks and Tolman won their third successive match, as did Gudzelac, who was paired with Bobus. However, the Brits went down 3-2 and were left to compete in the tournament for 19th/20th.

They faced Egypt in their final match of the event, winning 3-2. After losing the opening match there were victories for Andrew Warren and Kingsley Harris, Gudzelac and Bobus, while Tolman maintained his 100% record partnering Paul Jepson.

Captain Nick Holloway, who was injured in the pairs tournament and unable to compete in the team event, said: “We had a tough draw in the groups. You need to win at least one of your matches if you’re going to compete for one of the higher places. The Mexicans were excellent and we narrowly lost to the Finns 3-2. After that, we won two of other three matches, losing to Uruguay and we all know South Americans have been playing this a lot longer than us.

“If you look at the strength of the men’s game, the likes of Argentina had former world No 1s in their squad. The level of the game is just amazing. At this point in time we’re not at that level and we have to look at planning for the future.”

Nick will be putting in recommendations to the LTA, who played a role in team selection, funding team entry and supplying team kit, on how to improve the squad and optimise team selection for future tournaments.

He added: “We had some new guys in the team such as Max Holloway, Elliott Selby and Richard Love. We also had veterans like Richard Brooks, who took time off work to come and compete. He’s played on the World Tour and it would be great if we could clone Richard as he did very well for us. Going forward we need to change elements so that we can improve, including training camps and selection camps so that we are better prepared in the future.”

The GB men's seniors squad.

Matt Stanforth, LTA Padel Performance Manager said: “The World Senior Championships has been a very positive championship for the women’s team, with some stand out performances along the way. The men’s team had some close overall match scores against Czech Republic and Uruguay finishing 3-2, with a final win against Egypt. 

“This year the LTA received an influx of player applications, both men and women, ranging in age categories interested in being part of the Senior’s National Padel Team. For the first time LTA player selection policies were implemented and LTA support was increased from previous years, to cover international entry fees and team kits for the squad of 33 players.

“Throughout the process we worked closely with members of the wider Senior’s padel community, including national coaches for greater understanding of team needs and dynamics, with some of these individuals taking on the role of team captains throughout the event, responsible for the daily selection and organisation. We would like to thank those individuals for their time and support given to the Senior’s National Padel Teams.”

Results in full

In the Seniors Pairs events, Foxhall and Wood were the standout duo for GB as they finished fourth in the Women’s 45+ age category.

One of the few pairs to compete in the first round, they made light work of Argentinian rivals Analia Gabriele and Maria Caelles winning 6-0, 6-0. A second straights set win followed with a 6-3, 6-2 win over Dane’s Mette Truedsson and Majken Vange.

A tight third round match followed with Foxhall and Ward beating Swedish 4th seeds Ingela Pihl and Antonette Andersson 6-4, 5-7, 7-5 before beating Portugal’s Tania Couto and Tania Damiao 7-5, 6-0 in the last eight.

However, their path to the final was stopped by Roberta Zandarin and Sabina da Ponte in a three set thriller as the Italian top seeds squeezed through 3-6, 6-1, 7-6. In the third/fourth place match, they were unable to match their previous displays losing 6-2, 6-1 to Argentina’s Maria Ciccarelli and Natalia Evarissti.

Senior Pairs round-up

Women 35+

Claire Smith and Elizabeth Fletcher secured an opening round 6-1, 6-3 win over Spain’s Carmen Lanillos and Maria Cardona, but lost 6-2, 6-2 to 8th seeds Dane’s Marie-Louise Frolich and Liv Deleuran-Skjold in the last 16.

It was a similar story for Angela Crossley and Sophie Cousins. They triumphed 6-7, 6-2, 6-4 over Norway’s Mona Kronheim and Siri Linn but lost in the last 16 to Italian second seeds Letizia Lo Re and Antonella Cavicchi 6-0, 6-1, who finished 4th.

Women 40+

Katie Hands and Natalie Gill received a first round bye. They went on to beat Norway’s Camila Neilsen de Santana and Johanne Hestad 6-3, 6-2 but lost 6-1, 6-1 in the last 16 to Danish 8th seeds Jannie Overgaard and Mette Jochumsen.

Kerry Louisa and Sarah Louise also got a first round bye. They outclassed Chile’s Patricia Apt and Isabel Budnich 6-0, 6-0 in the last 32 but then fell 6-3, 6-1 to Swedish 5th seeds Emma Pettersson and Anna-Karin Svensson.

Women 50+

Helen Crook and Victoria Davies triumphed in the opening round with a 6-1, 6-0 win over Germany’s Nicol Sternemann and Sabine Schneider but fell in the last 16 to Dutch 7thseeds Stephanie Gomperts and Iris Sterkenberg 4-6, 6-2, 5-7.

Women 55+

Sally Fisher and Nicky Horn eased into the last 16 with a 7-6, 6-2 win over Argentina’s Hilda Martinez and Luisa Navarro. However, they were beaten 6-0, 6-1 by Sweden’s Helena Dahlstrom and Monica Lundqvist. The 4th seeds went on to claim the title without dropping a set.

Louise Baker and Karen Hunter had the perfect start to their challenge with a 6-0, 6-0 win over Norway’s Liesl Albriktsen and Anne Solvang but lost 6-3, 6-2 to Dutch 5th seeds Mirjam van Roer and Jacqueline van Wijk, who were runners-up.

Men 35+

James Asensio and Richard Love reached the last 16 with a bye and a 7-6, 6-4 win over Finland’s Henri Lahdenpera and Roope Forsman, but lost to 2nd seeds Swedes Hans Christian Andre and Anders Par 6-2, 3-6, 3-6

There was disappointment for debutants Max Holloway and Elliot Selby who lost in the opening round 3-6, 6-3, 4-6 to Austria’s Andreas Waltzer and Oliver Frik.

Men 40+

Michael Tolman and Richard Brooks, star performers in the team event, could only reach the last 32 in the pairs, losing 3-6, 7-6, 7-6 to 7th seeds Portugal’s Pedro Plantier and Joao Pedro Santos.

Paul Jepson and Ross Murdoch lost in the opening round 6-2, 4-6, 2-6 to Gytautas Aukselis and Marius Puskorious of Lithuania.

Men 45+

Benjamin Gudzelak and Berislav Bobis suffered an opening round 6-2, 6-1 defeat to Spain’s Guillermo Ponzoda Ibiza and Roberto Castro.

Men 50+

Kingsley Harris and Andrew Warren reached the last 32 but lost 6-4, 6-1 to Brazil’s Cristian Kirinus and Marcio Daniel (seeded 10th).

Men 55+

Chris Warren and Tim Webb lost 6-0, 6-2 in the opening round to American pair Larry Boniface and Gabriel Sanchez Iniesta

Nick Holloway and John Byrne won their first round match 6-3, 6-1 against Libor Durlin and Juraj Podkonicky. An injury to Holloway meant they had to forfeit the tie to Germany’s Sven Timm and Oliver Schmidt who had beaten Brits David McCulloch and David Alexander 6-2, 6-4 in the opening round. 🎾