Tennis: Kia Motors tournament-René, a new dawn for Seychelles tennis


Boys’ doubles winners Damien Laporte and Shaun Andriamaro      Girls’ doubles champions Dawn René and Thérèse Soukup 

On Sunday at the Roche Caïman courts after the sun had made its appearance following the morning rain, René stroke the ball flat, hard and without fear to come from a set down and outlast Thérèse Soukup to take home the girls’ singles title of the second Kia Motors tournament.

The Seychelles team also won the boys’ and girls’ doubles titles, while Damien Laporte could retain his boys’ singles crown despite receiving a lot of support from the parents and other tennis enthusiasts present.

Aged 12, René has tennis smarts as she is able to pick the right moments to gamble and make the difficult shots.
After beating Marchella Nibourette of the La Digue team 2-0 (6-0, 6-3) in the semifinal, René dropped the first set 3-6 against Soukup, but won the second 7-5 against the nine-year-old.

When Soukup’s shots were too long or dropped into the net in the decisive third set, René rushed to a 5-0 lead but Soukup regained her composure, letting one shot follow another to come back into the match at 5-4.

René needed a game to win the title, while Soukup needed two. As the spectators kept guessing who between the two would win, René pulled the trigger to take the set on a 6-4 score and the match 2-1.
“I feel good, and played well,” René told the media.
“I tried to finish the game in two sets, but Thérèse is a strong opponent and plays really well,” noted René who added that she has been training seriously with French coach Frederic Canale for five months although she has been playing for some time.

Girls’ singles gold medallist Dawn René

Disappointed after her loss and with bruised knees, Soukup, who will be 10 years old in July, said: “I’m sad I lost today. I gave my best after winning the first set, but Dawn is a very strong player and she came back into the match. I tried again in the third set when I was 0-5 down and the best I could do was cut the deficit to 4-5.”

Diguois Marchella Nibourette finished third after Belinda Ovina had to leave early on Sunday with the rest of the Kenyan team as their Tuesday April 30 flight was cancelled.

Clearly not playing at his best as he was still suffering from flu and a fever, Damien Laporte trailed most of the time against Mauritian Neils Hartmann and when he led, he just could not stay in control. It was no surprise then to see him lose the boy’s singles title he won last year.

After trailing 1-4, Laporte was able to come back at 4-5 in the first set but still lost 4-6. He looked to have put his demons behind him in the second as he carried the game to Hartmann leading 3-1, but the Mauritian came back to equalise at 3-3 and even lead at 4-3.

The best Laporte could do was equalise at 4-4 before Hartmann put the issue beyond doubt by winning in the next two games to celebrate a 2-0 (6-4, 6-4) win – his first in four meetings against the Seychellois.

“It was a hard match. I wanted to beat Damien after losing three times to him in past match-ups,” said Hartmann who was born in Mauritius to a South African-born mother and Zambian-born dad who grew up in Germany.

Hartmann said he started playing tennis with his mum at the age of three-and-half years and trains for at least 16 hours per week.
Seychellois Shaun Andriamaro needed a tie-break to earn the bronze medal in a 2-1 (3-6, 7-6, 10-8) win against Mauritian Sebastien Liu who shed some tears after the defeat.

Boys’ singles winner Mauritian Neils Hartmann

Laporte and Andriamaro had earlier in the day put up a strong display of tennis to score a number of their points at the net in a 2-0 (6-3, 6-0) win against Mauritians Sebastien Liu and Niels Hartmann.

Theo Barois and Isaac Jean-Louis settled for third place in the boys’ doubles.

In the girls’ doubles, Dawn René and Thérèse Soukup got the better of the La Digue pair of Hanelle Ah Kong and Marchella Nibourette on a 2-0 (6-3, 6-0) score.
Third place went to the Kenyan pair of Belinda Ovina Isabella Stichbury.

G. G.

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