A thrilling week of tennis at the Aegon GB Pro-Series Shrewsbury reached a climatic finish when qualifier Anna-Lena Friedsam won the singles title, while British duo Freya Christie and Harriet Dart triumphed in doubles.
Both Germany’s Friedsam and Christie, who turned 20 during the event, are on the comeback trail from injury, making their respective victories even sweeter.
The doubles final was played on Friday, with Christie and 21-year-old Dart facing teenagers Katie Swan and Maia Lumsden in an all-British duel. The younger pair made the stronger start, breaking to open and soon clinching a 63 first set. But Christie and Dart’s experience showed as the match wore on, and they played a confident match tiebreak to close out a 36 64 [10-6] triumph.
Dart had previously won nine ITF doubles titles, and Christie had claimed six. This was their second tournament victory as a duo.
“We’ve teamed up twice before and played well together, and we’re quite comfortable together,” Dart reflected after their win. “We played well this week and we’re just happy to win the title.”
The doubles champs had faced off in the first round of singles at the Shrewsbury Club, with Christie coming out on top in straight sets before losing to compatriot Eden Silva.
“It’s always tough playing your doubles partner, someone that you’re good friends with and train with,” Christie said. “So it’s always going to be difficult, but you just have to put that aside for the singles. But I think we’ve really done well to come and win the doubles title this week.”
Of their opponents in the final, she added: “We’re really good friends with those two girls as well, so again, it’s difficult. But it also gives you a slight advantage, knowing each other’s weaknesses and strengths. So you can kind of view it as a plus and a negative, really.”
In the singles final, 23-year-old Friedsam was up against Dutch top seed Lesley Kerkhove, who was yet to drop a set during four previous matches. The German was playing her seventh match of the
week, having qualified for the event, and looked fatigued and frustrated as she immediately went down a double break. Nevertheless, she fired herself up for one last push, clinching a 64 62 victory with a drop shot winner.
Friedsam climbed as high as world no. 45 in the world rankings last August before undergoing shoulder surgery. Ranked outside the world’s top 1000 in Shrewsbury, she was overcome with emotion after winning the $25,000 event.
“I didn’t expect to win the title,” she admitted after the match. “But I had very good practices over the last week, so I spoke with my coach and he said to try and focus on the win and try to fight, even if it’s hard. So in the end I won, but a lot of work went on behind it.”
The stands were completely packed throughout Saturday’s final at the Shrewsbury Club.
“I was a little bit tired, but it was a great atmosphere with the crowd,” Friedsam reflected. “And it’s the final, so I gave everything I had today and it went pretty well for me.
“I feel great. It was an amazing tournament for me, I played seven good matches and I’m really happy about it. If you want to win a Grand Slam one day, you have to win seven matches, and I did it. So it’s good practice!”
Friedsam, who required an off-court medical timeout during her semifinal clash with third seed Kathinka Von Deichmann, will not play any further events this season.
“I will have [an] off-season now and have a good preparation for 2018,” the German said. “I want to have a good 2018, play good tennis and stay healthy. That’s my highest goal.”