Loughborough progressed to the Final of the Men’s BUCS Tennis Championships with a hard-fought 10-2 victory over Durham University at Graves Tennis Club, Sheffield.
Two victories from Loughborough’s second seeded player, Scott Dickson helped his team go on stage further in the competition to what they achieved last year, when then were dumped out of the competition by eventual winners London Met in the semi-finals.
The East Midlands outfit started the match well winning both doubles rubbers before completing the job with three singles victories but the eventual score was perhaps unfair on Durham.
The North East University matched Loughborough in several ties but only one star performance from their number one player Richard Wire brought them any points. Wire was impressive with a majestic singles performance but his victory over Jonathan Kinsella was not enough to inspire a Durham comeback.
In the tennis competition, each tie starts with two doubles matches followed by four singles fixtures which are all weighted equally worth two points towards the final score.
Loughborough started the day as they meant to go on with two dominant performances in both doubles matches.
Loughborough’s Jonathan Kinsella and Scott Dickson paired up to beat Richard Wire and James Wilson 7-6 (7-4) 6-4 in the first of the two doubles rubbers in a close and hard-fought contest.
The opening set went on serve throughout however, the Loughborough pair came closest to breaking the serving efficiency when 5-4 up with Durham serving for to stay in the first set.
Kinsella, who once reached the top-300 in the world junior ITF singles, instantly put pressure on top of the Durham serve with three fine forehands in the opening rally finishing the point with a lovely passing shot down the line.
The pressure increased as the Durham serve fell to 0-30 down, but this was withstood by Wire and Wilson who took the game with four straight points.
With both pairs holding their serves the set went into a tie-break which Loughborough managed to take 7-4 after asserting their authority early in with two mini-breaks.
Kinsella and Dickson secured the only break of the second set an early in the third game and were strong enough to serve out to complete a straight sets victory.
Loughborough dominated the second doubles match with a relatively easy 6-2 6-1 victory in a convincing display.
The Loughborough pairing of James Shacklock and Scott Whitbread secured five breaks in total over the Maxime Adam and Mike Herbert of Durham.
The two victories meant Loughborough led 4-0 in the overall match going into the four remaining singles rubbers in the semi-final.
Yet, Durham managed to haul themselves back into the proceedings with an excellent display of tennis by their number one player Wire.
The left-hander returned exceptionally throughout his match with Kinsella who managed to break his string with the first serve of the match, an ace down the ‘T’.
Wire however took control of the match in the third game with his first break of serve greeted with an angry response by his opponent.
In truth, Kinsella’s discipline let himself down throughout as Wire opened up in his shot making to break the Kinsella serve again in the seventh game before taking the set 6-2.
Wire required physio to an injury early in the second set but battled through the pain to complete a straight sets victory 6-2 6-3.
Scott Dickson had to come from behind in his match with Mike Herbert to put Loughborough in a position where they could not lose the match outright with a 2-6 6-1 6-4 victory.
The first set left Dickson visibly disappointed as Adam played the better tennis as came forward well throughout the match.
But the resilience of Dickson shone through as he raced into a 5-0 lead in the second set before taking it 6-1 His performance levels maintained into the third and final set which he was able to win 6-4.
Dickson’s victory left the tie sitting at 6-2 with two matches to be decided but the tie was put beyond any doubt when Loughborough’s number three Scott Whitbread defeated Maxime Adam 7-5 6-3.
In the dead rubber that finished the match Loughborough’s Josh Miller, who did not take part in the doubles, defeated James Wilson of Durham 6-1 6-2 in a convincing victory.
Speaking after the game Loughborough coach Josh Pankhurst said:” (It was a ) pretty tight match against Durham actually all in all but we came through. In the end the score looked fairly comfortable but it was a tight match
“The guys did good, it makes a big difference when you win both doubles. To go two up after the doubles then you only got to win two more matches and it’s a pretty good start for us and we were able to carry the momentum into the majority of the singles.
Pankhurst also spoke about the performance of his number one player Jonathan Kinsella who fell to the a defeat.
“I think Rich Wire is an excellent player, he has played pro for a few years in the States. I mean, disappointed to lose any much but I don’t think Jonny played badly and I just thought the other guy was a pretty good player and that was probably of the singles the one that was going to be the tightest.
The victory means Loughborough will face London Met on Sunday afternoon to decide who will be crowned BUCS tennis champions for 2011.
About London Met, Pankhurst added: “Notoriously they have been a pretty tough team in particular towards the top of their order and having won the BUCS stuff for the last two or three years so we expect a tough time but we will give it a good shot.”
Loughborough play in three of the four finals in the final day of the Championships as both their second teams, Men and Women, both qualified alongside the first team