13 Feb 2018

Heliovaara and Smitkova triumph in Loughborough

News Article

By Nick Fishpool

Photo: Rowland Charles GoodmanGreat Britain F2 - wc 5 February 2018 - Harri Heliovaara (FIN)

LOUGHBOROUGH, GREAT BRITAIN: Harri Heliovaara and Tereza Smitkova captured the singles titles of the GB Pro Series event at Loughborough University, last Sunday.

The men’s singles final, saw two unseeded player’s clearly on a mission to climb back up the rankings. 30-year-old Maxime Authom, who was ranked 143 in 2013, was competing in the final as a two-time Loughborough title winner (2014 & 2016), and looking for his 23rd career singles title, whilst 28-year-old, Harri Heliovaara, also a former top 200 player, was playing in Loughborough for the first time.

Alarm bells rang out early into the final when the trainer was called to court after only the second point of the match to treat Heliovaara, who, thankfully, after a medical timeout, was able to resume much to the relief of the large crowd who had gathered to watch.

There was nothing to separate the two combatants in the opening set, which went to a tiebreak, where the Finn took the initiative to win 7-2. Again, little separated the two in the second set, and a single break of serve allowed Heliovaara to serve out the match at 5-4 and collect his second ITF Pro Circuit singles title in Britain, and seventh career singles title in all.

Speaking after the match, the men’s champion, had much praise for the crowds support, with his celebration after winning the final point, clearly an emotional one.

Heliovaara, also commented on his great week in Loughborough, having already captured the doubles title on Friday with 2012 Wimbledon doubles champion, Frederik Nielsen. This was his 17th career doubles title, and Nielsen’s second doubles title in Loughborough, having won an ATP Challenger title at the University in 2010. The duo's title came in what was their first time as a doubles partnership.

Tereza Smitkova (CZE)Preceeding the men's singles final, the women’s singles final was played in front of a crowd of 300+ and it was the 4th seeded Swiss player Conny Perrin, 27, who had reached the final without loss of a set, who took the early initiative, but Smitkova, 23, showed some steely commitment to turn things around and capture the opening set 63.

The Czech player, who had beaten top seed Bibiane Schoofs in round two and the number three seed Kathinka Von Deichmann in the semifinal, was really starting to show the form which took her to a WTA career high world ranking of 57 in 2015, and the last 16 of Wimbledon in 2014 as a 19-year-old.

After, wrapping up the match 63 62, she was clearly delighted to win her first singles title of 2018, and sixth career singles title on the ITF Pro Circuit and seventh title overall having also triumphed in a 2014 WTA $125K Series tournament.

Saturday's doubles event saw top seed’s Michaella Krajicek & Bibiane Schoofs, who have known each other since their days competing as juniors in the Netherlands, claim the title. The last time they had teamed up had been in a 2012 Fed Cup tie and here, in their first pro outting together, they saw off the challenge of the second seeds Tara Moore & Conny Perrin 67(5) 61 [10-6].