Suffolk hopeful Berry bows out

TENNIS: SUFFOLK'S Melissa Berry's brilliant run in the LTA Ladies $25,000 tournament in Felixstowe ended yesterday when she was beaten in straight sets by second seed Lucie Ahl.

SUFFOLK'S Melissa Berry's brilliant run in the LTA Ladies $25,000 tournament in Felixstowe ended yesterday when she was beaten in straight sets by second seed Lucie Ahl.

Berry, who was born in Felixstowe but now lives in London, put up a brave fight but was beaten 6-1 6-0 in an encounter that was never a classic.

Although both players were placing their shots well, Ahl was in control for most of the match. Despite some occasionally sharp passing and volleying from Berry, she just could not control her service returns and Ahl's deep commanding shots were a class above.

"I am annoyed with myself," said Berry. "I have played much better than that in my last few matches, but that's the way it goes. Lucie is very good on grass and she played very well."

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The 18-year-old Berry had done extremely well to reach the quarter-finals in the first place, entering the qualifying rounds on a wild card and then beating several players ranked many places higher than her, including eighth seed Shelley Stephens in the previous round and Jane O'Donoghue in the first.

However, on the day she was outplayed by Ahl, the British number 2 from Devon, whose accurate play was undisturbed by the blustery wind and an interruption for rain.

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Berry, meanwhile, thinks the weather might have played more of a factor in her performance…but not as you might expect.

"I think conditions were actually better than they had been for my other matches here," she said. "Maybe that was the problem. It was actually nice and sunny at one point, but maybe I'm better off playing in the wind and the rain!"

Joking aside though, she remains optimistic about the result.

"I didn't expect to even get this far in the competition. The girls I played were all really tough so I am so pleased to have reached the quarter-finals."

Berry had back surgery on a slipped disc last September, so she has spent most of the winter recovering, hence her unrealistic world ranking of 1,197 before this tournament.

However, she is hopeful that her fine achievement in her former home town will have lifted that by several places, especially as she will have bonus points for beating opponents of such a high calibre.

She has also been granted a wild card entry into the LTA $10,000 tournament in Frinton next week.

Meanwhile, all local connections ended at Felixstowe were ended with the defeat of Elena Baltacha, the daughter of former Ipswich star Sergei.

A tired-looking Baltacha was beaten by India's Manisha Malhotra, the world no. 362, 6-3 7-5.

And first seed Annabel Ellwood put up an equally disappointing display, losing 6-3 6-0 to defending champion Roberta Vinci of Italy.

Vinci will have faced Malhotra in today's semi-finals, while Ahl went on to face fellow Brit Jo Ward who edged past Julie Pullin, the third seed and British no. 3, in straight sets, 7-6 6-4.

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