Jess Garside spoke of her delight after winning her maiden British Women’s Open Doubles Championship title.
The Hayling Island ace, who plays for Seacourt Club, and partner Lea Van Der Zwalmen defeated Georgie Willis and Eve Shenkman 3-1 in the final at Malvern College, Worcestershire.
Garside, a former real tennis champion, is a relative newcomer to rackets.
But the 22-year-old has made a seamless transition and toasted her first national title.
She said: ‘I was so thrilled to win the championship with Lea.
‘She is very experienced and a brilliant player.
‘Although I haven’t been playing rackets very long, I’ve got a good racket-sports background through real tennis.
‘Lea gave me lots of advice on where to stand and how to receive serve, which is one of the toughest parts of the game.
‘It can be quite scary with the small, hard ball cracking through at high speed.
‘But when you really middle a shot, it’s amazing.
‘This was the first time we’d played in a tournament together so it took me a while to cope with the pace of the ball and the positioning on court, but it’s an exhilarating game.
‘It’s really given me the incentive to keep playing.
‘Everyone at Seacourt is very encouraging and I love playing there.
‘It’s great to see more women taking up rackets as until about seven years ago it was virtually an all-male sport.’
After winning their quarter-final and last-four matches in straight games, Garside and Van Der Zwalmen faced Willis and Shenkman in the final.
They clinched the first game impressively 15-7.
The second game proved to be tighter, but it was Garside and Van Der Zwalmen who extended their lead with a 15-12 success.
Willis and Shenkman mustered some resistance, with the former hitting a string of impressive backhands.
They clinched the third game 15-7 and were the first pair to take a game off Garside and Van Der Zwalme in the competition.
But they responded in the best style possible.
Garside’s nicely-weighted serves kept their opponents under constant pressure as the pair wrapped up the fourth game 15-6 and clinched the title.
– SALLY JONES