By Gareth Evans
Wales’ Tesni Evans produced a scintillating performance to overcome England’s Alison Waters in the 2018 British National Championships women’s final today in Manchester.
Her straight-games victory (11-5, 11-9, 11-7) in 43 minutes not only made the Welsh No.1 and World No.12 the women’s champion, but also the first non-English woman and first Welsh player of either gender to claim a title in the championships’ illustrious history.
Evans, 25, was appearing in her first final after knocking out the defending champion, Laura Massaro – but any nerves that she might have had were far from obvious, as she hit to a good length from the outset and raced into a 10-3 lead in the first game.
Four-time champion, and World No.10, Alison Waters, 33, saved two game points with tight shots into the nick – although it was a case of third time lucky for Evans, whose ferocious volley down the right saw her home 11-5.
Evans was clearly buoyed up for the second game – and proceeded to go 6-0 up, thanks to a confident series of drives, boasts, drops and volleys.
But Waters, seeking a fifth title that would draw her level with Sue Cogswell and Cassie Jackman as the most successful woman in the competition’s history, fought back to claim nine of the next dozen points – leaving the game poised at 9-all.
Having recovered so well, Waters hit out of court to hand the advantage back to Evans, who then played a tight drop into the left corner to double her games lead.
Waters began the third game of her record-breaking 10th final in fine style to establish an early 4-1 lead. But her mistake at the front of court drew Evans level, and the Cardiff-born player never fell behind again – earning championship points at 10-6 with a sublime cross-court shot to the back-left corner.
Waters saved the first point with a tight volley – only for Evans immediately to respond in kind with a title-winning shot into the right nick.
Having lifted the trophy without dropping a single game all week, Evans conceded that she had gone on to court with a few butterflies.
“I was so excited last night to have made the final, and tried to bluff that I wasn’t nervous about today – but I was, so just decided to go off as fast as I could,” she said.
“I’m so proud to have won the match, and also to become the first Welsh person ever to be champion.
“Thank you to everyone who has supported or helped me – it means a lot.”
Paying tribute to her opponent, the new champion added: “I have the utmost respect for Alison – thank you for the match today.”
Waters, who won the event in 2008, 2010, 2013 and 2014, as well as being beaten finalist on five occasions – most recently two years ago – said: “It’s never nice to lose a final.
“But Tesni was on fire from the start, and was the better player today.
“I’m proud to have got to the final. I didn’t quite make it today, but I’ll be back for sure next year!”