Sheffield men’s first tennis team responded from their defeat against Durham in emphatic style yesterday afternoon. Facing the university’s second string side, they won 12-0, winning four singles and two doubles matches without losing a set.
Sheffield’s second men’s team also lost last week to Leeds but the difference in class at the Graves Tennis Centre was evident.
Starting later, due to the cancellation of the women’s second team, both sides set out to try and form an early marker in the singles. In a strange affair practicing partners ended up playing each other competitively in a league format.
The early signs in the singles were ominous for the second team. Tom Dyakowski’s 6-1 6-0 victory set the tone for what would be an easy afternoon for the first team. Joe Tingey’s humdinger with Jack Hird ended 6-2 6-3 to the former, a match which lasted nearly an hour and a half. Vilis Vitolis triumphed 6-3 6-1 while Jack Kierton, who replaced Max Heath in the first team for yesterday’s encounter, won a gruelling tie 7-5 6-2.
By the time the doubles were about to start the first team had already reached an unassailable 8-0 lead, two points for every rubber won.
So the second side decided to rotate two players for the doubles, with Bradley Timmis and Will McKaig brought in to replace Adam Lain and Ollie Fountain. As both doubles matches began the game-plan looked to have worked, with the debutants taking the first set to a tiebreak.
Nonetheless, Vilis Vitolis and Jack Kierton proved too strong, winning the tiebreak 10-5 and the match 7-6 6-2.
It came down to Dan Earp and Jack Hird to prevent a likely whitewash. Even though the latter’s flat hitting provided a major obstacle for Tom Dyakowski and Joe Tingey the more established pair eventually closed out the match 6-1 6-4.
Tom Dyakowski said: “It was good to get our first win of the season. It was a strange win against our second team. I thought in the doubles Will McKaig and Bradley Timmis produced a really good performance and that’s very promising for the future.
“We had a training session last night and really worked on our doubles. Me and Joe really struggled when we played one pair against the second pair and it really helped that we received information from Sam.”
As the tennis balls sliced across the indoor court, echoing loudly in the plush lottery funded facility, Sam Salt watched on in delight.
The Welsh coach has been teaching tennis in the city for approximately six months and took the opportunity to help improve the University of Sheffield’s tennis pedigree.
He said: “We’ve had a couple of good training sessions and we made some good changes. We had a tough match last week but with the level of this improvement every week we can expect something exciting in a few weeks’ time.
“I think energy wise it was a lot better. We’ve looked at the tactics, especially the doubles, so it was positive to see us play some positive doubles play when I was watching it.
“It’s very kind of them [Tom Dykowski and Ashley Fletcher]. You know it’s those guys doing the hard work, picking the courts for training and the teams, and all the day to day organisation which goes unsung really. You know I get to do all the glory bits by watching them play but a lot of hard work goes into it at their end.”
Sheffield’s men’s first team’s next fixture is away to Teesside University in the Northern Conference Cup next week before hosting York in the league in early November. The men’s second side face are in Durham next week before hosting Leeds.