Vogt victorious in Bath pro-series

The annual Aegon GB pro-Series tournament returned to Bath for the ninth consecutive year during the first week of November. The tournament run by the LTA is held on the indoor courts at the STV and was once again free for spectators to watch. The Bath Pro-Series was the last ITF Pro-Circuit tournament of 2014, so competition was fierce as players looked for a strong finish to their season.

DSC_0164The women’s event had a $25K prize fund and featured 32 players, 11 of which were ranked inside the world’s top 300 and was won by third seed Stephanie Vogt. The Liechtensteiner suffered a couple of early scares, dropping the first set in both her first round encounter with British qualifier Freya Christie and in her quarter-final match against Czech youngster Tereza Martincová. Despite this, the world number 199 found her form over the finals weekend, dropping just 5 games against second seed Marta Sirotkina in the semi-finals and defeating fourth seed Alberta Brianti 6-3, 7-6 (7-3) in the final. World number 213 Brianti, had been on fine form herself, reaching the final without dropping a set and recording three ‘bagels’ in her first two matches. The Italian then defeated top seed Carla Buyukakcay in the semi-finals to set up the encounter with Vogt who edged the final in two tight sets.

18-year old Londoner Harriet Dart was the most successful Brit at the tournament reaching the quarter-finals, while wildcard Sarah Beth Askew took the first set off top seed and world number 140 Buyukakcay before eventually losing in three sets.

The women’s doubles event saw just 12 entrants, but top seeds Lesley Kerkhove and Xenia Knoll proved to be the class of the limited field, dropping just 10 games during the entire tournament to record three comfortable victories. It was Kerkove’s second success in recent weeks after teaming up with fellow Dutchwoman Richel Hogenkamp to claim the Shrewsbury pro-series title at the end of September.

In the men’s $15K event, world number 306 Maxime Authom made it back-to-back victories on the ATP Challenger Tour following his success in Loughborough the week before. The Belgian dropped just 18 games in 5 matches at Loughborough, and breezed through the first two rounds in Bath with straight set victories over British youngsters Johnny O’Mara and Toby Martin. With a quarter-final encounter against Swiss world number 1056 Sandro Ehrat facing Authom, many expected his comfortable run to continue, particularly when he claimed the first set 6-3. These predictions proved to be wide of the mark though, with Ehrat fighting back to the take the second by the same margin and the decider going all the way to a tie break. Authom won the breaker 7-3 to emerge victorious in what was arguably the match of the week. The Belgian then claimed two more British scalps, with a dominant 6-1, 6-1 victory over David Rice in the semi-finals and a comfortable 6-2, 6-4 victory over his doubles partner Josh Milton in the final to claim the crown.

In the men’s doubles event, Rice and Milton reached the semi-finals before succumbing to eventual winners David O’Hare and Joe Salisbury. The Irish-British combination seemed to be successful with the pair claiming three successive straight set victories to claim the title, with a particularly impressive 6-1, 6-2 success against second seeds Richard Gabb and another Authom victim Jonny O’Mara.

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