The British veterans tennis team met the US in the finals of the World Championships at La Baule in France, on Saturday June 13 and on this occasion 13 really did prove to be unlucky.
24 hours before the match, British number 1, Rye coach Frances Candy went down with a bug. “It was like flu”, says Candy, “my muscles and joints all ached and I felt very much under the weather. It was so frustrating, having got so far in the competition, but there was just no way I could have played.”
Her place was taken by the number 2, Pauline Fisher. Sadly she was unable to make much impression on the US lead player who, Candy tells us, “was on top form and would have been difficult for anyone to beat,” and went down 6-1, 6-2. In the next singles rubber, Sally Freeman fought hard and at one point appeared to be holding her own, but, once again, the US with their number 2 proved just too strong and won through 6-3, 6-3.
With the first two rubbers going their way, the US took gold and the world title. However all was not quite over and in the final doubles rubber the British team determined that this was not going to be a walkover and to sustained cheers from the spectators, won the first set, 6-2. The US, however, got their act together in the second set, forced a tie-break and just scraped through, 7-6. A deciding third set now had to be played, but the Americans proved to have shot their bolt and the British pair of Pauline Fisher and Jane Rushby cruised to a 6-1 victory in the set and a 2-1 win overall.
So the British team returned with a silver medal for their efforts. Candy, herself, summed it up, “The first two matches were fairly straightforward but the semi-final against the French was hard work and could, at one point, have gone either way. The Americans this year were just so strong and although it was disappointing that I couldn’t play in the final, I certainly couldn’t have guaranteed to beat Tina Karwasky, the US number 1, who was on the most amazing form. In the circumstances, we’re thrilled to have come home with the silver medal.” Rye News will second this, a silver medal at a World Championship is, indeed, no mean achievement.
Photo: FJ Candy