US stars earn their stripes

Men's singles winner Denis Nguyen in action at Rye LTC's 87th Annual Invitation Tournament
Men's singles winner Denis Nguyen in action at Rye LTC's 87th Annual Invitation Tournament

Rye LTC’s 87th Annual Invitation Tournament enjoyed four days of fine weather as the 270 entrants battled for glory on the club’s magnificent grass courts.

The ten young American players from Harvard and Yale arrived in fine form, and although the Yale team suffered disappointment with the early defeat of captain Kyle Dawson, four of the US college players marched through to an all-American men’s singles semi-final line-up.

All the matches were fiercely contested, with Denis Nguyen (Harvard) and Tyler Lu (Yale) coming through to do battle in a heavy-hitting, high-speed final, from which Nguyen emerged the winner.

In the ladies’ singles, three of the college players came unstuck against tough opposition in the quarter-finals, with just Annie Sullivan (Yale) going through to contest a tight semi-final against Josefin Hjertquist from Sweden.

The other ladies’ semi-final also saw a close contest between last year’s winner, Surrey county player Philippa Coates, and Majka Serafini, an Italian playing in her first Rye Tournament.

The final, between Sullivan and Serafini, saw the American playing some spectacular tennis to take the title.

After a short rest, Sullivan was joined on court by Rye LTC coach Frances Candy for a ladies’ doubles final against the strong pairing of Annabel Watson (Queen’s Club first team captain) and Antonia Smallbone (Hurlingham), who were narrowly beaten in a nail-biting third set finish.

The men’s doubles final saw Slovenians Gregor Krusic and Bruno Nikolic versus New Zealand’s Mark Hadley and compatriot Anton Bettink, a fast and furious match which also went to three sets with Hadley and Bettink winning by just a few points.

Hadley then teamed up with Coates to face Alfredo Caturano and Catherine Hall in the mixed doubles final, another closely contested battle which saw victory going again to Hadley and his partner.

All the matches were played before an appreciative crowd, which was treated to some fine displays of tennis from an international field.

The action at Rye LTC in Military Road continues with the three-day Junior Tournament from today (Wednesday) until Friday before the Closed Tournament on Saturday and the Mixed Doubles on Sunday.

For more pictures from Rye LTC’s 87th Annual Invitation Tournament, see Friday’s Rye Observer.