Smeed and Wegerer earn their places on the board

TWO youngsters despatched experienced opponents to get their names on the wall at St Martin’s Tennis Club.

Yet while Imogen Wegerer had Louise Inder beaten within the hour at the annual club championships, held in hot and muggy conditions, Seb Smeed’s victory over Ben Wentzel proved to be a marathon contest.

The two players had never met competitively before and, once they finally found themselves at opposite ends of the distinctive St Martin’s court, the contest raged on for 2hrs 43min.

Wentzel went in chasing a fourth straight title and the quality cricketer showed his strength by coming from behind to win some great points and take the first set on the tiebreak 7-6. He continued this promising run through much of the second set, even if Smeed – who has been playing college soccer in America while keeping in touch with his tennis background – stayed on his coat-tails.

Smeed finally adapted to Wentzel’s game and got on the front foot, only for an ankle concern to strike at a crunch point.

Thankfully, the youngster was not seriously hurt and duly won the set 7-6.

He stamped his authority in the deciding third set, which he garnished with some cracking and smart shots before smashing down a superb winner, concluding it 6-3.

‘Buzzing – I really had to come through,’ the tired-yet-thrilled victor said when asked about the feeling of winning his first title.

‘There were some really good points in there and Ben’s a great opponent, a really good player.

‘First set I don’t think I was approaching the net enough, but that kind of changed. Second and third set I approached it a little bit more – should have been a bit more consistent, but I got there.

‘I’m glad I got the name on the board for the first time.’

In a smaller women’s draw, 19-year-old Wegerer lined up as a debutante in the club final.

Women's singles winner Imogen Wegerer. (Picture by Andrew Le Poidevin, 29626830)

The same could not be said of the evergreen Inder, who has won several titles over a lengthy period, most recently in 2018.

Wegerer edged the first three games but Inder knew how to make the teenager work for the ball and battled back, closing the arrears to 4-3.

Wegerer then won the next game and then overcame a deuce to seal the first set 6-3.

But the second set proved even tighter and they were level in the middle, before the younger player overcame fatigue and made some great shots to break clear.

It was narrow, at 7-5, but a delighted Wegerer had sealed the two-set victory.

‘I’m very happy,’ she said.

‘She’s really consistent, so it was a good match.

‘I felt nervous because of all the people watching, but I was happy with how I played.’

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