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Simmonds stands tall to take ITF title in windy Tunisia
- Updated: March 10, 2015
It may be freezing in Tunisia but young Chanel Simmonds showed some red-hot form in the desert nation at the weekend.
The Kempton Park based tennis player claimed the singles title at the $10,000 ITF El Kantaoui tournament.. and for good measure also reached the doubles final.
In the final she got the better of Spanish player Cristina Sanchez-Quintanar, winning in three sets, 2-6 7-6 (0) 6-4.
In the doubles she teamed up with American Jessica Ho where they were beaten by.
Simmonds, a member of South Africa’s winning Fed Cup team in Estonia recently, was seeded third for the Tunisian tournament.
The strong left-hander told Road to Rio 2016 she gained some valuable experience on her way to victory, both in playing conditions and in terms of playing style.
‘It’s my first time playing a pro event in Tunisia. It’s winter here at the moment so every day is very cold and it’s also been extremely windy throughout the week (45kph swirling wind) which makes it very difficult to play in.
‘The wind is something of an equaliser, and honestly, throughout my career, I haven’t had great results when it comes to wind for some reason.
‘So I’m very pleased that I was able to win some close matches. The wind moves the ball around and everyone struggled to hit the ball clean on the strings. So I would just try laugh it off whenever there was a ridiculous point and I think that relaxed me throughout the week because I have no control over the conditions.
‘In my final match I played a girl who went to the US for college and she is now starting to play pro tournaments. I looked up her playing activity before the match and I saw she had lost in two or thee previous finals.
‘It was one heck of a match. She plays very differently to most players. She slices a lot, drops shots and even charges the net at times. So she made it very uncomfortable for me and many times I just didn’t have an answer to her game.’
That saw a change in tactics from Simmonds. ‘I made her hit as many balls as possible and decided that I was going to be a wall and not miss a shot. It was a much closer set and she was getting impatient in the rallies. I played a great tiebreaker at 6-6 to win it 7-0 and then set 7-6. In the third set I had a few shaky games and I went down 4-2. I tried my absolute hardest to be patient and as consistent as I can.
‘It paid off as I won four games in a row. I can’t explain how relieved I was because we had the longest rallies ever! Making the doubles final as well made it a great week for me in Tunisia.’
This week sees Simmonds tackling a second Tunisian tournament, hopefully with less of a wind to contend with.