Esther Adeshina helps school to national title

Basingstoke Gazette: Esther Adeshina with her Talbot Heath team-mates. Esther Adeshina with her Talbot Heath team-mates.

BASINGSTOKE tennis star Esther Adeshina helped Talbot Heath School’s Year 8 team to be crowned national champions for the second consecutive year at the AEGON Team Tennis Schools National Finals held at the Bolton Arena.

Adeshina only joined the Bournemouth boarding school in September and, despite being in Year 7 and the youngest member of the team, her ranking made her the team’s number one player.

Adeshina won all but one of her rubbers throughout the event but most importantly, her epic victory against the higher-rated national player Jodie Anne Lawrence-Taylor from Cheam High School sealed Talbot Heath’s crown.

The journey to the final started in April, with 2,476 teams taking part in the league stage.

Adeshina and her team stormed through the regional knock-out rounds in October, defeating King’s School Winchester.

They were also winners at the South West Regional Finals in mid-November after defeating Royal High School Bath and Millfield Prep School, in Somerset.

The national finals concluded with a round robin group of the top team in each of the four regions, north, midlands, south east and south west, with those teams battling over the two days and the top team of the group crowned national champions.

Adeshina and the Talbot Heath girls started off against Beaconhurst School from Scotland. Adeshina and her partner Aleksandra Topalovic won their doubles rubber 6-4.

The 12-year-old Basingstoke player faced tougher competition in her singles match against Ali Collins and lost 6-3, but Talbot Heath won the tie overall 8-4.

Next up was Bedford Girls School and Adeshina and her team wasted no time showing why they were the top seeds for the event as they won all six rubbers.

Adeshina won her doubles match, partnered by Mille Smythe, 6-1 and also her singles rubber against Emma Brown 6-0.

The group standings at the end of first day were such that the Talbot Heath girls had to win four rubbers in their Sunday round-robin clash against the second seeded team from Cheam High School in order to retain the championship title.

It started well, with two doubles wins, one of which was by Adeshina and her partner Topalovic, who beat Cheam’s strong duo of Jodie Anne Lawrence-Taylor and Gemma Heath 6-3.

By the time Adeshina took to the court the scenario was such that if Adeshina lost to Lawrence-Taylor, both teams would be level and would have to go to a deciding 10 point tie-break shoot-out.

The match lasted over an hour, with excellent displays of tennis from both girls.

The Cheam girl raced into a 4-2 lead but Adeshina fought back to win four consecutive games and ensure Talbot Heath retained their crown.

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