Saints Tennis Women’s 3rds were beaten 8-4 in the Scottish Conference Cup final by Dundee 1sts, as the favourites’ quality gave them the edge.
That was despite a great deal of effort and commitment from Saints, who held their own in the doubles and were by no means outclassed in the singles matches.
Dundee had won this fixture 10-2 when the teams met in the BUCS Scottish 2A division earlier in the season but, as Saints coach Mike Aitken pointed out, the 3rds have developed and found their best team since those early stages, while Dundee were without their (and Scotland’s) number one player for this final. That was a blow for Dundee but a major boost for the visitors, who had beaten Glasgow 2nds and Aberdeen 2nds to reach this stage.
The final began with two doubles matches. Saints’ number one pairing of Heather Banic and Catherine De Kiewiet took the first game and never looked back, racing through the set to take it 6-2.
Saints’ second pairing, Sarah Gimont and Emily Tupper, also got off to an impressive start against their opponents. But Dundee fought back, turning the set around to lead 3-2.
Both Saints pairs showed a good selection of shots and a willingness to play volleys at the net; the difference between them was the execution of those shots. Banic and De Kiewiet stormed to a 6-2 6-2 victory, but Gimont and Tupper lost the first set of their match and faded further in the second, going down 3-6 1-6.
With the final poised at 1-1 after the doubles, Banic and Tupper started the singles matches for Saints, then joined by Gimont and Catherine Pendreigh. Banic in particular started well, charging into a 4-1 lead and taking the first set 6-2 with precise shots and efficient finishing of points.
That was as good as it got, however, as Dundee tightened their grip on victory. There was no lack of effort or fight from the St Andrews players but even the closest of points seemed to go their opponents’ way.
Dundee won three of the four singles rubbers and, with those matches worth double points, claimed the final 8-4.
Nevertheless, Saints demonstrated plenty in their performances, on the day and throughout the competition to reach the final, to give them great heart. Their silver medals were just reward for the endeavours and spirit they showed against more fancied opponents.