Gray Gets the Gold at Shrewsbury
PIctured: Alaistair Gray salutes the crowd after clinching victory in the Budgen Motors Mens 25 singles final at The Shrewsbury Club
Alastair Gray won an all-British singles final against Harry Wendelken to be crowned champion of the Budgen Motors ITF World Tennis Tour M25 tournament at The Shrewsbury Club. Gray, 23, from Surbiton, currently ranked 495 in the world, completed a 7-5, 6-1 victory to secure the third M25 title of his career. Wendelken, 20, from Cambridgeshire, handed a main draw wild card, beat a number of higher ranked players during an impressive run by the world number 1,037 to reach his first $25,000 final. But Gray, having played consistently well all week, managed to get the better of him before being presented with the trophy for becoming champion by LTA president David Rawlinson and Oliver Benbow, operations director of Budgen Motors.
It was the first all-British singles final in an ITF men’s tournament at The Shrewsbury Club since Dan Evans, now ranked in the world’s top 30, beat Marcus Willis in 2013. British players have now won the last two World Tour men’s events played at the Sundorne Road venue following Jack Draper’s success in 2019.
Gray said: “I think it was a little bit of a scrappy match. Maybe both of us were a bit nervous coming into the final. I think I served very well which kept me ahead, but, yes, I’m happy to come through.
“Harry played some good tennis, but I just think I got some of the more important points of the match.”
Gray will quickly be back in action as he targets further success: “I’m going to Glasgow,” he said. "I’ll probably be playing there on Wednesday, so looking forward to that. I then have a week’s training and then going to Portugal for two weeks.”
The doubles final, also an all-British clash later on Saturday afternoon, was won by Anton Matusevich and Joshua Paris, as they beat Wendelken and Oscar Weightman 6-4, 6-4. For Matusevich, it was a second Shrewsbury triumph in quick succession after winning the UK Pro League men’s title in Shropshire last November.
Dave Courteen, The Shrewsbury Club’s managing director, hailed the quality of the M25 tournament, which is part of the LTA Performance Competitions Calendar.
He said: “It’s been another really successful week with the team at The Shrewsbury Club working exceptionally hard. We catered for a lot of people, Saturday's VIP lunch was sold out, and we had entertaining tennis to enjoy throughout the week.
“It was encouraging that three of the four singles semi-finalists were British players, with British winners in both the singles and doubles.
“Alastair Gray had an excellent week. He has an incredible backhand and a very strong serve. He’s certainly got the ability to go on and surge up the rankings, and we hope he does.
“Harry Wendelken also had a very good week to reach both the singles and doubles finals. He’s another player that we’re going to see significantly improve on his current world ranking.
“This event could not happen without the sponsors, including Budgen Motors, and they have done a fantastic job supporting us.
“We also thank the volunteers who helped make the event such a success and local tennis fans for supporting the tournament in good numbers throughout the week."
Lucy Ambrose, the tournament director for the LTA, was delighted with the success of the event.
“It’s been incredible,” she said. "I knew from my colleagues at the LTA that this event was held in really high regard and that the players love the facilities.
"I came to Shrewsbury with high expectations and they’ve absolutely been exceeded.
“The club have been so welcome and supportive, with the level of tennis throughout the week excellent.”