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Coombes claims best of British double
DORSET tennis veteran Matt Coombes enjoyed the double delight of lifting the Over-45 British Seniors’ singles and doubles titles at Wimbledon.
Coombes triumphed 7-6, 7-6 in a tense final against GB over-45 team-mate Paul Scullard (Hampshire) before he teamed up with over-50s champion Chris Hearn to beat Scullard and Graham Neal in a tie-break (6-2, 4-6, 10-7).
Seeded number one, the 46-year-old overcame Simon Legassick (6-0, 6-1), and Gary Minns (6-0, 6-1) before cruising past fifth-seed David Mills in the quarter-final.
Steven Joyce (6-1, 6-4) was then seen off before the decider with Scullard went down to the wire.
The grass court success handed Coombes valuable ranking points for the ITF World Team Championships in Palm Beach Gardens near Miami, Florida in April and the British captain said he was as pleased with that as the silverware.
Coombes told the Daily Echo: “While the event is always held at nice places, everyone was battling for every point.
“The prospect of playing at Miami was a strong draw for everyone involved so to do well was important for me.
“There was a bit of pressure because, in theory, I was expected to win. It was the first time I had played in this age group and because I was the top seed everyone tried that little bit harder."
On his prolonged career, Coombes added: “I have been fortunate in a way because coaching on the tennis court all day has kept me fit. You might be the best player out there but there’s not a lot of point if you can’t get round the court.
“I have seen a few former professionals who hadn’t looked after themselves turn up and get beaten by the fitter people. In that respect, you can make the game as easy or as hard as you want.”
In the doubles final, Coombes and Hearn comfortably took the first set with two breaks of serve but relaxed at 2-0 up in the second, allowing Hampshire pair Scullard and Neal to level the match.
The resultant 10-point tie-break was neck-and-neck at 4-4 before a run of four straight points for Coombes and Hearn – including a screaming forehand shot from the West Hants man – stole the initiative before some quick reflex volleys settled the contest.
Coombes will now continue his preparations for Miami at the Bournemouth Gardens Tennis Centre where he coaches and manages.
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