DAVE GATERELL won his first ever national title at the British senior clay court championships in Bournemouth earlier this summer.
The 36-year-old, who is head coach at Steep, and lives in Lee-on-the-Solent, won the over 35s doubles title with Seb Jackson.
They beat Mark Hadley and Timur Shadiev, of Russia, 6-4, 5-7, 10-5 to land the prize.
Gaterell said: ‘All the matches we played could have gone either way.
‘Although it’s not quite as prestigious as winning an open event, something that I’ve been trying to do my whole career is win a national title and now I’ve done it.
‘I’ve made the semi finals of a national tournament when I was 17 but that was as close as I got.
‘It just shows that if you keep plugging away, you can win eventually.’
Gaterell had never played with Jackson before but the duo were seeded number one because of Jackson’s previous record at the tournament.
Jackson won the over 35s doubles with Colin Bennett last year and excelled this year by retaining his doubles crown, in addition to winning the singles title in the over 40s section.
The pair beat Lasitha Dissanayake and Peter Kiss 7-5, 6-4 in the quarter-final and then came from a set down to beat British pairing Ian Baggett and James Drummond 0-6, 7-6, 10-5 in the semi-final.
The win puts Gaterell 42nd in the doubles rankings.
‘He won it last year with Colin Bennett, so the pressure was on to win again,’ said Gaterell.
‘A lot of the players are former professionals so the standard is quite high.’
He added: ‘The final was close. We were always in the lead though.
‘It felt like it was going to be slightly less stressful than the second match and it panned out that way, although it still went to a tie break.
‘The third set is a 10 point tie-breaker so it’s a little bit of a lottery, but we edged through.
‘I was very pleased to win the title but also relieved at the end because I did feel under pressure to win.
‘I played better in the final but Seb was consistent in all the matches, he never has a bad game.’
Speaking about his route to the final, Gaterell said: ‘In our first match we always felt we were going to win.
‘It was a good warm-up match to get to know each other’s game.
‘In the second match, we got smashed in the first set 6-0 and I played really badly.
‘But we managed to turn it round and win the second set 7-6 and then win the tie break 10-5.
‘That was the crunch match for us. We had to play against a guy who beat me in the singles first round and then went on to the final, so it was a real test for us.’
The tournament was a grade 1 ITF international seniors event and is part of a trio of championships in England.
The first is the British senior indoor championships in the west midlands, then the clay court championships in Bournemouth before finishing on the grass courts of Wimbledon.
Gaterell will be competing in the county cup with Hampshire later this month before going to Wimbledon to compete in the British grass court championships from August 17-23.