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10 July 2015 | in Universiade 2015, Summer Universiade, Tennis

Great Britain surges towards Tennis Finals

 

 

GWANGJU - The United Kingdom men’s tennis doubles team are guaranteed at least a silver medal at the Summer Universiade, after sending the Japanese pairing home thanks to a 10-8 last set tiebreak win.

Joe Salisbury (University of Memphis) and Darren Walsh (Southern Methodist University) had to not only go to the third and final set, but do it in oppressive heat and humidity.  Salisbury says the doubles structure, where the third set is played as a tiebreak rather than a normal third set, is an advantage in such conditions.

“It’s tough being a set down; if you were playing singles in those conditions a set down, you’re going to be struggling a lot, especially if you’re not feeling physically great.  We knew we weren’t playing our best in the first, so we raised the energy and we started to have the momentum into the tiebreak.”

The humidity has posed some very tricky situations when it comes to on-court play, says Salisbury.  Having had to adjust quickly, adapting the game was very important.

“For the first few days it felt like we were playing at altitude, where the ball’s flying more through the air.  If you don’t put enough top spin on the ball, it’s just going to fly long.”

The Universiade has presented a special opportunity for Salisbury to represent his country, a change to most of his tournaments where it’s individual participation, rather than nationality.

“It’s an individual sport, so you are travelling around playing for yourself.  Here, you’re playing for your whole country and team-mates, because when you win, it’s even better.”

While it’s not a team even on-court, away from the field and on the sidelines there is a real emphasis on team bonding and culture, Salisbury comments.

“Before we came here, we wanted a real team spirit, even though the competition is knockout draws.  The support we’ve had has been amazing, which has helped a lot.”

Walsh and Alexandra Walker also made it through to the mixed doubles semi-finals.  They faced a minor scare, going down 1-6 in the second set to the Polish team, but fought back with the support of their teammates.

 

Davis Harrigan (AUS), FISU Young Reporter

 

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