Wildcard winner Rice beats fifth seed

THE Gotelee & Goldsmith East of England Lawn Tennis Championships got into full swing yesterday on the sun-parched grass of Felixstowe's Bath Road Club.

THE Gotelee & Goldsmith East of England Lawn Tennis Championships got into full swing yesterday on the sun-parched grass of Felixstowe's Bath Road Club.

The conditions were perfect for tennis and the players responded, exhibiting some exceptional performances. Most impressive was the display of wildcard entry David Rice, who qualified for the tournament proper by beating fifth qualifying seed Olivier Charroin of France 7-6 (7-3) 6-2.

Rice displayed maturity belying his tender years to fight back against the fiery Frenchman. Looking confident and assured in the early games, Charroin eventually wore the Brit down to break in the fifth but was left stunned as Rice dug in to break back in the eighth.

Rice's groundstrokes gradually became more positive and he went into the first set tie break unlucky not to have already sewn-up the set. He didn't have to wait long however, as he powered his way past Charroin, taking the set with a vicious passing shot which left the Frenchman helpless.

As the second set got underway, Charrion's legs, weary from three sets of tennis earlier in the day, began to tire.

As he grew more and more frustrated, Rice took advantage, breezing through the second set 6-2 and earning himself a surprise place in today's first round proper.

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Elsewhere in the men's qualifiers, top seed Frederik Nielsen looked in splendid form as he eased past USA's James Ludlow in straight sets. The towering Dane displayed some beautiful touches around the net to navigate his way past a potentially difficult opponent. Britain's Colin Fleming also impressed in beating Australian Matthew Ebden 7-6 (7-3) 6-1.

After Sunday's preliminary qualifiers for the men, the women were in action for the first time yesterday.

There was a surprise when top qualifying seed Anne-Laure Heitz pulled out, allowing Britain's Nicola Mooney to progress to the first round of the tournament without hitting a ball.

The women's second qualifying seed, Antonia-Xenia Tout of Romania, struggled to victory over resilient Brit Phillipa Reakes, triumphing 6-3 6-4. Reakes troubled the Romanian throughout with her service game.

Yesterday's results

Men's singles

2nd Qualifying Round: (5) O Charroin (Fra) bt F Sletting Johnsen (Nor) 4-6 7-5 7-5. T Bradshaw (GBR) bt (8) A Miotto (GBR) 7-6 (7-5) 6-4. (13) E Seator (GBR) bt K Taylor (RSA) 6-4 6-7 (7-2) 6-4.

Final Qualifying Round: (1) F Nielsen (Den) bt (12) J Ludlow (USA) 6-4 6-1. (2) C Fleming (GBR) bt (9) M Ebden (Aus) 7-6 (7-3) 6-1. R Wire (GBR) bt (16) A Barratclough (GBR) 6-4 7-5. (4) T Peric (Cro) bt B Arlidge (GBR) 7-6 (7-4) 6-3. D Rice (GBR) bt (5) O Charroin (Fra) 7-6 (7-3) 6-2. (15) P Eichenberger (Sui) bt A Tassart (Fra) 7-6 (7-4) 4-6 6-3. (7) S La Porte (USA) bt (11) K Kalaitzis (GBR) 6-2 7-6 (7-5).

Women's Singles

1st Qualifying Round: C Martin (GBR) bt K Chheda (Ind) 6-4 6-4. J Jackson (GBR) bt R Hatch (GBR) 6-1 6-1. E Tomlinson (GBR) bt E Tullett (Aus) 6-1 7-5. J Webster (GBR) bt R Sammel (GBR) 6-2 7-6 (7-3). C Homewood (GBR) bt C Bell (GBR) 6-2 6-2. J Craven (GBR) bt S Chapman (GBR) 6-1 6-2. S Galinier (Fra) bt N Hillyer (GBR) 6-4 6-1. M Carter (GBR) bt R Hall (GBR) 6-4 6-4. S Proctor (GBR) bt N Starling (GBR) w/o. D Armstrong (GBR) bt J Hanger (GBR) 6-3 6-2.

2nd Qualifying Round: N Mooney (GBR) bt (1) A Heitz (Fra) w/o. (9) N Khan (GBR) bt C Martin (GBR) 6-2 6-0. (2) A Tout (Rom) bt P Reakes (GBR) 6-3 6-4. J Jackson (GBR) bt (11) C Ricketts (GBR) 2-6 6-3 6-3. (12) K Vankova (Cze) bt E Tomlinson (GBR) 6-0 6-0. (13) S Murray (GBR) bt C Homewood (GBR) 6-3 6-1. (14) E Thomas (GBR) bt J Craven (GBR) 6-2 6-3. (7) A Smith (GBR) bt S Galinier (Fra) 6-3 6-1. (10) M Gaverova (Rus) bt M Carter (GBR) 6-0 6-1.

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