Photo courtesy of Inquire Media
Whilst the heavens opened outside in Canterbury on 5th March 2020, the University of Kent (UKC) Women’s Tennis team were under cover, and under pressure, as they took to the courts at the Polo Farm, Canterbury for Varsity against Canterbury Christ Church (CCCU).
The schedule of play opened at 9:00 with the singles match for seed number 4, Rose Compton (UKC), against her respective seed, Orsana Sawcheneo (CCCU). The points board was an empty canvas, so it was all to play for. Compton looked rather tentative in her play during the first few games, and Sawcheneo took the lead with 1-0 in the first set. However, Compton to the crowds’ relief, managed to win the next game to bring it back to 1-1.
Throughout the first set both players looked to execute the approach shots in order to close down the rally and it was clear Sawcheneo started to hit a higher pace of ball, with lots of topspin. There was no mercy from Sawcheneo who did not concede any more games for the remainder of the set, taking it to 6-1.
In the second set, Compton found more rhythm and her reactions improved. Whilst Compton showed more consistency in the second set, therefore winning three games, Sawcheneo tried to rush her shots demonstrating both impatience and nerves. Nevertheless, unforced errors started to creep in for Compton as the lack of anticipation on the short balls given by Sawcheneo meant double bounces and mis-hits. Compton’s determination did not faulter, and Sawcheneo took the 6-1, 6-3 victory, securing the first points for CCCU Women’s Tennis Varsity.
In parallel to the seed four singles match, the seed three singles fixture was also underway. Maria Balan (UKC) played against Katy Welch (CCCU) with a similar end score line.
UKC number one seed Kitson started strong with powerful serves and an equally strong level of accuracy down the backline. From her warm-up with her opponent, Knoll, it was clear we were in for an interesting match. The CCCU number one seed was instantly a concern due to her height and force of serve, with a good level of net control also made clear throughout the friendly pre-match activities. When the match began, Kitson initially quelled these fears with strong returns to Knoll's serve, winning the first two games decisively. Knoll soon drew level in score, however, and Kitson began to falter with more and more unforced errors. Doing her best to stay in the fight, Kitson stretched herself across the court throughout the first set but ultimately could not keep up with Knoll's pace. The second set was defined by Knoll, as Kitson heroically attempted to keep up with the CCCU player's mobility but failed to translate her defensive maneuvers into a meaningful offensive. The match ended 6-4 6-0, a testament to the skill of Knoll but also to the determination of Kitson.