Tennis ; British women surge to victory

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The Independent Online


reports from Glasgow

It is all very well advising British officials not to get carried away by the odd minor success, but they have seen too many of their players leave the courts feet first to resist discreet smiles of satisfaction on occasions like the one here yesterday.

The nation's 21-and-under women's team defeated the United States to win the Maureen Connolly Trophy three years consecutively for the first time since the transatlantic competition was inaugurated in 1973. Though it must be emphasised that the Americans, who lead the series, 17-6, generally select collegiate and high school players for the event, the British team can be encouraged by their spirited performances over the past two days.

Appropriately, Mandy Wainwright ensured that victory was achieved a day ahead of schedule by securing the sixth win, the power of her shots proving too strong for Farley Taylor, from Michigan. The 19-year-old from Essex, who was also successful in singles and doubles on Thursday, has won 10 of her 11 matches in the competition, and remains eligible for the next two years.

It was Wainwright, partnered by Shirli-Ann Siddall, who served out the doubles match which gave Britain a 6-5 win in last year's contest in Colorado Springs, although she recounted that the closing points were played in almost pitch darkness: "We won on a let-cord, and no one knew which side it bounced until the ball was found on the American's side of the net."

There was no doubt about the conclusion of yesterday's decisive rubber at the Scotstoun Leisure Centre, Wainwright returning a second serve and then watching a Taylor backhand fly over the baseline to complete a 6- 3, 7-5 win. It was, Wainwright said, by far her best performance for two years in which she has struggled to find form and confidence. Yesterday, relying on the natural exuberance and pace of her game, she surprised herself with the consistency of her shots.

Kate Warne-Holland, who partnered Wainwright to success in the doubles when making her debut in the competition on Thursday, opened the proceedings yesterday by defeating Traci Green, from Philadelphia, 7-5, 5-7, 6-4, in an entertaining contest which featured two players who were prepared to attack.

The 20-year-old Warne-Holland did not develop a serious interest in the sport until her teens. Her father Malcolm, is accustomed to strings of a another variety as musical director of the Royal Opera House, and one of her sisters, Rebecca, is a jazz singer.

Britain's triumph was delayed by Karen Cross's 6-1, 6-4 defeat by Sandy Sureephong, the highest ranked American, but Wainwright boldly strode forth with her beaming smile and booming shots to make it 6-1 with four "dead" rubbers to play. Lucie Ahl, of Devon, won the first of these defeating Marissa Catlin 6-3, 6-2.