Pickard Falls Short in British Tour Opener

HOME club member JB Pickard has admitted that he didn’t deserve to win his first-round match in the LTA British Tour tournament at Ilkley Lawn Tennis & Squash Club.  

The 18-year-old fourth seed served double-figure double faults in the first set in losing 6-3, 7-6 (7-3) to a resurgent Dan Bennett.  

Pickard confessed: “I felt like I was hitting it nicely but something was missing.  

“A few short balls on big points that I would normally make, I was just missing them.  

“I don’t know why because I wasn’t feeling nervous or tight or anything. Maybe it was a loss of concentration.”  

The match started on grass, but was transferred indoors after rain when Bennett, who has lost eight-and-a-half stone in two-and-a-half years by gym work and dieting, was leading 6-3, 2-1.  

Pickard added: “I felt a bit better on hard indoors but my first set was terrible on the grass.  

“I definitely hit double-digit double faults . . . two a game, which is not good for one set.  

“You can’t really expect to win a set playing like that, and in the second set I was putting in semi-second serves, so I got more in but just didn’t quite do it on the big points.”  

The answer to Pickard’s problems could be more competition. 

He admitted: “Practice has been good but I haven’t played many matches, so a few more matches and I will start moving in the right direction.  

“I may have a British Tour tournament in Nottingham in a couple of weeks’ time.”  

As for the future, Pickard said: “I have just finished A-Levels in maths, physics and economics at Rossett School in Harrogate.  

“The results don’t really matter because I am going to Samford University in Birmingham, Alabama for four years this autumn, majoring in economics.  

“At the moment I am just concentrating on university and will take it from there.”  

In the women’s singles qualification, Sheffield’s Esther Jones, who is 21 and was seeded 17th, lost in the final round 6-3, 6-1 to fifth seed Alaia Rubio Perez.  

In the second qualifying round, fellow Steel City players Eleanore Lake and Sarah Copley were beaten. 

Lake, 19, from Hallam Grange, lost 7-6 (7-4), 7-5 to 15th seed Elina Silins, while Copley, 14, from Graves, fell 5-7, 6-3 (10-6) to third seed Halle Pringle, who went on to qualify.