Rocks Lane delivers top class British Tour weekend

It was a huge weekend for two of the UK’s hottest breakthrough padel stars, with both securing important victories. RJ Mitchell reports.

At the Rocks Lane, Chiswick, LTA Padel British Tour Grade 1, Victoria Nicholas partnered Aimee Gibson to success in the women’s event to confound the seedings and defeat top ranked Claire Smith and Abigail Tordoff with a brutal 6-1, 6-1 victory. (read about medic Victoria’s padel journey here). 

While in the men’s tournament ‘The Flying Scotsman’ Sam MacNeil paired up with Rafa Vega Otaolaurruchi to defeat Theo Garton and Cameron Dollimore 6-1, 2-6, 6-1 to hand the Fifer his third title of what is turning out to be a seminal debut season.

Victors Sam McNeil and Rafa Vega.

Sam, who is currently ranked No 6 in the UK, has timed his hot streak perfectly as he bids to become the first Scotsman to be picked for Team GB at October’s European Championships.

Reflecting on all of that Sam said: “Theo and Cam played well and have improved a lot over the last six months and they gave us a good game and of course took a set. Certainly Theo has matured a lot over the last six months and Cam is out in Spain training and has a great defence. So it was a good challenge and a decent final.

“In the semis we knew that Ryan (Wyatt) and Frankie (Langan) would be a big threat and it was nice to get the win against them but it was also just great to be back on court with Rafa. 


“We had taken the Grade 2 at the NTC (National Tennis Centre, Roehampton) and I had a good win in the LTA Grade 1 in Guernsey with Frankie so it was great to win a third title in recent months with both Rocks Lane and Guernsey being right up there as Grade 1s.

“It’s great the way padel is growing and I know that for clubs it is often not the best to put on tournaments so for people like Rocks Lane it’s fantastic that they promote events which are a key part of the calendar and really support the game at all levels in the UK,” added Sam.

GB ambitions

With only next week’s FIP Rise London Open between Sam and a debut selection for Team GB in October, the 31-year-old will once again partner Rafa at the NTC – and he admits that the players are well aware of what is at stake.

The Scot said: “For sure GB selection is in everyone’s minds, it is going to be a good validation of everything you do if you make the team but I try not to put too much on it all. 

To get another tournament with Rafa before the London Open was a big plus. We train at Rocks Lane quite a bit so that was also a positive for us but we know the London Open will be a big step up as we played the FIP in April with separate partners and that was really underlined. But playing in a settled partnership consistently is a plus.

“That said it would be a cool thing to get picked for Team GB. I am a bit older and for sure I’d love to make the side. It’s also nice to be doing my bit and flying the flag for Scotland!”

Aimee and Victoria in action.
Chris Warren, Aimee Gibson, Victoria Nicholas and Ale Grilo.

Seniors results

Meanwhile in the women’s doubles 40+, top-seeded Helen Crook and Jo Ward defeated Kate Hands-Digby and Kerry White 6-2, 6-2.

In the men’s, No 1 seeds Alex Grilo Costa and Andrew Warren defeated Al Morgan and Suso Padillo -Ropero 7-6, 3-6, 6-1.

In the 50+ event second seeded Sally Fisher and Emma Donaldson confounded the rankings to dispatch top-seeded Sally Pendry and Heather Sheridan 6-2, 6-0.

In the men’s ‘half-centurions’ Andrew and Rocks Lane supremo Chris Warren vindicated their top seeding to defeat second ranked Nigel Garton and David Alexander 6-4, 6-2.

Sally Fisher (left) and Emma Devenport

Reflecting on a superb weekend of padel, Rocks Lane owner and founder Chris Warren said: “We are super proud of Rocks Lane player Victoria Nicholas who competed in the Grade 1 for the first time at her home club and went on to win it. A huge congratulations to Victoria and her partner Aimee Gibson.

“Also congratulations to Rafa Vega, our good friend, and Sam MacNeil who won the Men’s Open. We are delighted that Sam will soon be joining Rocks Lane as our sponsored player.

“I am also very proud of my brother Andrew and his journey to achieving UK No 1 status in the over 40s with Ale Grilo and I was delighted to maintain my UK No 1 ranking by winning the over 50s with him.

“The players treated us to a thrilling weekend of top level, high energy padel action. Congratulations to all!”

Chris was also keen to underline his gratitude to the event’s sponsors: “We’d like to thank all our wonderful sponsors, in particular Nathan at Chiswick Physio for offering up much needed advice and treatments over the tournament weekend; Candy Kittens for treating the players to so many delicious gourmet sweets; GB senior player Paul Thomas for supplying us with PadelFitPro supplements to keep our top players padel fit! And thanks to Drop Shot, Padel Corner, Days and Room2 for sponsoring such a brilliant weekend. Finally gratitude to our amazing and very dedicated Tournament Director Chris Dolphin!” 🎾

Women’s 40+ runners-up Kerry White and Kate Hands-Digby with Chris Warren and Ale Grilo.
Women’s runners-up Claire Smith and Abigail Tordoff.
Above: Women 40+ winners Helen Crook and Jo Ward. Right: Ethan Bardo in action.