East Glos member Rose D’Sa was part of the winning Wales team which secured victory against Ireland at the Four Nations Seniors Tennis in Dublin on 4-7 May 2018.
Rose takes up the story.
I am happy to tell you that eventually, and on the final day, I won my third singles match against Ireland in three hard-fought sets, coming from behind to win 5-7, 6-2, 1-0 (10-8 in a third set championship tie break).
In view of my opponent’s tricky side-spin, I was unable to play my normal hard-hitting game, relying instead on slice on both forehand and backhand and having to resort to two “second” serves because my service action was so erratic. If ever there was a case for “winning ugly” this was it!
My wonderful captain, Ann Brown. a former GB player, mentored me courtside in all my matches and this was the highlight of the whole event, for me. Wales ladies eventually finished third in the over 60s, thanks to Ann’s outstanding victory over Ireland in three sets in her singles, playing at number one for Wales.
England were team winners overall in both the mens’ and ladies’ events, but notably Scotland won the ladies 65s. I am indebted to my coach Daniel Tonkin at Newport indoor centre for giving me the all-important game plan for playing on artificial grass and for encouraging me to play in the English Seniors Indoor Open beforehand, to get valuable match practice. Thanks to his input, I also finished up as runner-up in the O60s singles in that warm-up event. I have had a lot of help from fellow East Glos member Felicity Thomas and that really inspired me to do well, not least because she is in the top five in the world in her over 75 age group.
I am so glad that I joined East Glos Club two years ago. It has helped to get match practices with Louise Dalglish, Anne Ewart and Sally Grindley. I am so grateful, in fact, to all the senior women players at the club, especially Denise Kilgannon for encouraging me to join, Sue Reynolds and Concetta Knee for moral support and for our regular Monday sessions throughout the winter. You are a big part of this success as your friendship, as much as your great tennis, has made a huge difference to me.
I was astonished that one of my Brussels (European Economic and Social Committee, EESC) work colleagues, David Croughan and his charming wife, Joni (both Irish), came in person to watch me play on the first day, against England. They could therefore cheer me on without feeling any conflict of loyalty! I played particularly well in a close second set, losing to Carol Smith (a GB player) 6-0, 6-3. At least I managed to break her when she was serving for the match.
My physio in Cardiff, Ruth Murphy had done a great job on getting me fit for the event but unfortunately, the achilles tendon problem I had recently, re-surfaced over the weekend. There was no official physio at the event so I didn’t feel particularly confident on court against Scotland on the second day, despite practical help from Chris Hill in the Wales men’s team and his wife Gail, losing 6-3, 6-1. I had previously played the same opponent four years ago in the Four Nations event in Glasgow, when it was a much closer three set match.
At this moment of doubt and anxiety, I was greatly helped by Jane Gentle, in the English team, who kindly strapped up my ankle very competently on the final day and this gave me the confidence to run down every ball regardless and give it my best. Even so, victory took over two hours in hot conditions, but thankfully no wind.
As I passed by my captain’s side, to change ends for the last points of the crucial tie-break, I knew in that moment that I had been given every possible support from all of you who care for me and now it really was up to me to execute.
I did pray for God’s help at match point, but also for my opponent to play well. To my satisfaction, I won the match on a risky but well timed and ultimately winning, forehand sliced drop shot. I felt really sorry for my opponent because someone had to lose and so often I have been that person, so know how it feels.
There was no time for much celebration though as we all had flights to catch, so last but by no means least, many thanks to my wonderful travel agent Helen Walker and her team at Flightcentre Edinburgh for their wonderful service.
With affection and thanks for all your good wishes and for your friendship.
Photo: Rose (front row, far left) with her Wales team mates