Murray does the double: 4 things we learnt from ITF Wirral

As the tennis season comes to a close, the ITF tour found its way to the Wirral in Merseyside where we were treated to an all-GB final. Here, we take a look at what we can learn from the first of three ITF tournaments that Britain will host in the coming weeks.

1. Samantha Murray still has fight in her

Samantha Murray showed there’s plenty of fight left in her after taking the singles and doubles titles in the Wirral, with a comfortable 6-2 6-2 win over Eden Silva. The title is Murray’s second singles title of her career, after winning an ITF 25k in Glasgow back in 2012.

Samantha Murray
Si.Robi @ Flickr

It’s been a tough couple of years for Murray. It was three years ago that she played Maria Sharapova on Wimbledon’s No 1 court and unfortunately she has been plagued with injuries ever since, seeing her ranking drop from a career high of 165 to 490.

However, her recent form has been encouraging. She reached the Quarter Finals in the 25k in Cherboug-en-Cotentin, and has been impressing on the doubles scene. She won the title with young Scot Maia Lumsden – whom she beat in the semi finals in the singles – meaning Murray has now won 11 of her last 12 doubles matches (reaching her last 3 tournament finals).

Playing the doubles tour could be a fine move for Murray and singles success in the Wirral means she has plenty of appetite to continue her career and progress back towards the top. With form like this, it would be no shock to see Murray back on the grass in Wimbledon next year.

2. Solid Silva makes the final

A surprise runner-up, perhaps, but it was a fantastic week for Eden Silva. And it could’ve been so different for the 21 year-old when she found herself a set down in the opening round. However, after battling past Laura Deigman and then winning more comfortably against Alicia Barnett, Eden didn’t look back as she toppled two higher-ranked players.

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In the Quarter-Finals, Silva survived the fantastic serving of top seed Freya Christie to win in three sets, while in the semi finals, she dug deep to knock out 4th seed Anna-Giulia Remondina in an epic 7-6 6-4. In the first set, the Italian was serving at 5-4, but Silva broke to love and continued to grind out brilliant service games.

Despite Saturday’s result, Silva goes into the ITF 15k in Sunderland next week full of confidence. She still has the fight to reach the top, which is fantastic to see, and putting winning runs together at these lower ranked tournaments is exactly what she needs to do to reach her dreams. There’s still a lot of work to do, but the potential is clearly there for all to see.

3. Online trolls need to be silenced

After a gruelling spell on the injury sidelines in a year that has seen Freya Christie drop almost 400 ranking places, it was fantastic to see the teenager return to winning ways in the Wirral. Christie looked solid throughout the week and, despite eventually going down to Silva in the quarter finals, can be proud to record back to back wins.

However, despite this achievement, the week ended on a sour note for Christie who received disturbing backlash on social media. In an unsurprising and all-too-familiar social media post, Christie bravely shared her experiences on Twitter, with the likes of Tara Moore and Katy Dunne supporting the Nottingham-born player.

Thankfully, support from the public was resounding for Christie but what can be done to prevent online trolls? It’s not fair to ask tennis professionals, who receive this abuse on a daily basis, to switch off their social media accounts. Christie’s approach – to publicly share the posts – has to be the way forward. Tennis ‘fans’ need to remember that this is an individual sport and these players are grinding it out everyday in often lonely, obscure locations.

There is no room for this in our sport and online trolls are not welcome. Hopefully Freya Christie can use the support she received and channel it into her next tournament, which is due to be in Sunderland next week.

4. Teenager Lumsden impresses

Maia Lumsden reached the semi finals and continues her good form going into the off-season. The run should guarantee a season ending career high and it gives her high hopes going into 2018 to really break onto the tennis scene.

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Winning the doubles title with Samantha Murray, Lumsden played some good tennis, particularly in the first round and quarter finals. She also had chances to beat the experienced Murray and, despite losing that semi final, can take lots of heart and motivation from this run.

Lumsden, like many other Brits, will head to Sunderland and will be confident that she can go one step further. If she continues to play like she did this week then Lumsden is in a fantastic position to continue to make her way up the rankings after a promising debut season as a pro.

She clearly has the ability to break inside the top 300 next year, and maybe earn a Wimbledon wild card, but she must work hard for it. Lumsden has already won her first ITF title and knows she has to adapt her game to make a successful career for herself. Let’s hope she builds on this week – and year – going into 2018 to break more boundaries.

And finally

It was a solid week for Sarah Beth Grey, who reached the quarter finals and claimed a fantastic scalp by defeating 2nd seed Lucrezia Stefanini 6-1 6-3. Grey also reached the doubles semi finals, after defeating the top seeds in the quarters with partner Laura Deigman.

The entry list for ITF Sunderland can be found here.

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