Young guns lead the way in Borders championships

Some of the winners and runners-up from the Borders Senior Confined
Some of the winners and runners-up from the Borders Senior Confined

TWO teenagers took their place at the top of Borders tennis at the weekend in the culmination of the week-long Borders Senior Confined tournament at Melrose.

Michael Fairburn, 17, took the senior men’s singles title for the second time, following his success in 2009.

In the women’s event 16-year-old Emily Watson from Selkirk took the honours on Saturday’s finals day.

Fairburn, facing Melrose club colleague Glen Gordon, showed his undoubted talent in securing a 6-1 6-0 win.

Fairburn, taking advantage of the slippery conditions, kept his opponent on the run throughout the two sets, and despite some superb defence from Gordon, Fairburn had, on the whole, the shots to finish the rallies when required.

Despite the scoreline it was an entertaining final, with spectators admiring the power and accuracy of the teenager and the spirited defensive qualities of his opponent.

While the men battled it out, Emily Watson and Toni Lemmon fought over the women’s title.

The first set was nip and tuck until Lemmon, from St Boswells, broke Watson and then held her own serve to move 5-3 up.

However, her young opponent stepped up to the challenge and took the game to Lemmon, holding her own serve after a particularly long game and then broke back.

As Lemmon’s intensity dropped and she became less aggressive with her shot-making, Watson continued to assert her authority on the match, taking the next two games to win the set 7-5.

In an equally tight second set, Watson again had to come from behind to take the title, winning three games on the bounce from being 4-3 down.

In the singles consolation events Duns’ Lisa Kerr beat Earlston’s PJ Harding 6-1 7-6 and Simon Blair beat Andrew Robertson (both St Boswells) 6-1 6-0.

In his second final of the day Fairburn teamed up with Michael McGee (Peebles) to take on Adrian Moir (Peebles) and Ranald Wilkie (Selkirk).

The two Michaels, defending champions, had faced six match points in a deciding match tie-break in their first match of the tournament against St Boswells’ experienced duo Mike Armstrong and Matt Tile, but somehow the pair won the next eight points in a row to take victory.

In the final, however, the pair were on the receiving end of two tie-break comebacks. After the first set went to a tie-break McGee and Fairburn found themselves 6-4 ahead, only to lose the next four points, and the set.

The second set was just as evenly matched, going the way of the two Michaels 7-5. But, in the match tie-break, after establishing an early 4-0 lead, the two were pegged back by Wilkie and Moir to 6-6. The next few points went to and fro, but it was the pairing of Wilkie and Moir that came through on top with a 12-10 success.

In the consolation event Ian Reilly and Iain Laidlaw (both Melrose) overcame Andrew Plenderleith and James Collin (both Duns).

The women’s final was a topsy-turvy affair, with Lesley Thomas and Chris Jackson (Kelso and Duns) winning the first seven games against Peebles pair Juliet Smith and Lisa Campbell. But, despite being a set and a game down Smith and Campbell never gave up and fought back to take the second set 9-7 in a tie-break.

Once again a deciding match tie-break was needed to determine the champions. Smith and Campbell took the initiative after a tight opening few points, and never looked back as the secured a 10-5 win.

St Boswells pair Toni Lemmon and Cindy Webster won the consolation against Peebles duo Andrea Wilson and Anne McKinnon on Friday evening.

In the mixed doubles, Lisa Campbell and Michael McGee took on Chris Jackson and Andrew Plenderleith.

An even first set went the way of the Peebles pair Campbell and McGee in a tie-break, before an early break in the second set ensured that they would take the title with a 6-4 second set win.

Juliet Smith and Keith Polson (Peebles and Melrose) took victory in the consolation event on Friday night with victory over Jessica Bennett and Mike Turner (both Melrose).

In a new competition this year, mixed over 85 aggregate age, Simon Blair and Lynn Bruce (both St Boswells) beat Duns pair Suzanne Dixon and Steve Lampert. The consolation was won by St Boswells’ Cindy Webster and Matt Tile against Angela and Iain Laidlaw (both Melrose).

David Laing, president of Tennis Borders presented the trophies, while tournament committee member Chris Jackson thanked tournament referees Christine Lawrie and Elspeth Laidlaw for all their hard work.