Parish makes point on British Tour
17:30 23 January 2014
Upminster ace exceeds expectations
Upminster’s Helen Parish exceeded expectations to finish runner-up at the Aegon British Tour event in Stirling at the weekend.
Parish entered the competition late, after a regional event in Bath was cancelled, to gauge her progress following several years out with illness.
And after receiving a bye in the first round, she won three matches to reach the final against number one seed Anna Fitzpatrick.
Parish said: “She’s a very experienced player, currently ranked within the top 20 in Great Britain, so I knew it’d be a tough test.
“I was able to push her really close in the first set and even had a set point, but I just didn’t have enough energy left in the tank.
“Anna took full advantage of that and I ended up going down 7-5 6-1. But while I was disappointed not to be able to perform like I had in my previous matches, I surpassed everyone’s expectations, including my own, by getting that far.
“I thought it might be too early to progress to national competition but I was really keen just to play some matches and thought I might be able to get through a round, so took a chance. It turned out to be a really good decision!”
Parish beat the unseeded Anna Daisley (West of Scotland) 6-0, 6-4 in her first match, then defeated number seven seed and top 10 national junior Louie McLelland (North of Scotland) in the quarter-finals.
“I had not been well at all after my match the previous day and had to stay in bed until an hour before I was due to play to even make it onto court,” added Parish.
“My goal was simply to get through as many games as I could, which probably helped me to relax and conserve what little energy I had left.
“I was surprised at how well I dealt with everything that was thrown at me and couldn’t quite believe it when I closed out the match (6-3, 6-2).”
Parish played some of her best tennis in the semi-final against third seed Mollie Crouch (Hertfordshire) to win 6-2, 6-3, to the delight of her coach.
“It was probably the closest I’ve come to replicating my form in practice during a match. My coach was sitting at the side of the court laughing at some of the shots I was coming out with!” she added.
“I achieved something last week that I once thought would never be possible. Four years is a long time to be out of any sport, let alone tennis, so it’s really encouraging for me to see that I am l able to do well at this level after all this time.
“I’m still not allowed to train for more than five hours per week, so once I’m able to build that up and get more experience playing these tournaments hopefully I will progress even further.”