Ipswich’s James Ling wins Aegon British Tour title at Felixstowe after starting as qualifier
- Credit: Harman H Hopkins
Ipswich youngster James Ling remarkably stormed his way to the Aegon British Tour title at Felixstowe on Saturday having started the week as a qualifier.
The 20-year-old Suffolk county player, who is back for the summer during a tennis scholarship in the USA, won seven matches in five days, beating top-seed Nicholas Nugent 6-1, 6-2 in a one-sided final played out in front of around 50 spectators.
Nugent plays for Surrey, but his parents hail from Suffolk.
Ling saw off Patrick Foley (6-3, 6-3) and Max Benaim (6-7, 7-7, 6-4) in qualifying, then dropped just one set in the main draw with victories against Thomas Pudney (6-1, 7-5), eighth seed Nicholas Turnbull (6-0, 6-1), Piers Foley (6-4, 2-6, 6-2) and seventh seed Michael Shaw (6-2, 6-3).
“It’s extremely unusual for a qualifier to win the whole thing,” said tournament referee Pete Greatorex. “I think it’s happened only three times in the long history of this tournament.
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“James just played some very solid tennis. He just got better and better as the week went on and I don’t think he missed a ball in the final.”
Ling’s comfortable win in the final may have been something of a damp squib for the neutrals watching, but the crowd had been left thoroughly entertained by the women’s final.
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Lancashire’s Olivia Peet (third seed) beat Kent’s Nell Miller (fifth seed) following an epic battle. Peet won the first set after a tie break, Nell hit back with a 6-2 second set win, but Peet – who had lost in the final of the Frinton tournament earlier this month – stepped up a gear to claim the decider 6-3.
“I have been running this tournament since 1991 and that was one of the best women’s finals I have ever seen,” enthused Greatorex. “You had two 17-year-old girls going at it hammer and tongs for three sets. There was very few mistakes. It was fantastic.”
Elsewhere, Suffolk’s William Cooke Wharton reached round two. The 18-year-old came through qualifying with wins against Edward Colclough and Casey Recci, beat Florian Hagmann 6-2, 6-4 in round one before losing to seventh seed Michael Shaw 1-6, 3-6
Ipswich’s Jared Bones was forced to retire injured in his final qualifier after he’s beaten higher-ranked opponent Angus Bradshaw 6-2, 3-6, 7-5.