GB tennis team win silver at 2019 World University Games
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Great Britain’s university tennis team continued its run of success on the global stage as Emily Arbuthnott won a silver medal at the 2019 World University Games to record Britain’s best women’s singles performance for over 50 years.
The event, which is the second largest multi-sport Games in the world after the Olympics, saw Arbuthnott claim wins against Kazakhstan’s Zhibek Kulambayeva and Slovenia’s Pia Brglez to progress to the last 16. A stunning comeback victory against China’s fourth seed and former world top 300 player Hanyu Guo and then wins over Japan’s Kanako Morisaki and Hong Kong’s Eudice Chong meant Arbuthnott became the first British woman to reach a World University Games singles final since Nell Truman in 1967.
Arbuthnott missed out on the title with a 6-4, 6-4 defeat to Japan’s Naho Sata, but her silver medal take’s Great Britain’s university tennis international medal tally up to eight since 2015.
The Hertfordshire-born student, who attends Stanford University, was introduced to the sport by her parents and is a former main draw participant at all four junior grand slam events, including reaching the round of 16 in singles at Roland Garros. The 21-year-old was part of a four-strong GB tennis team at the Games in Naples, alongside Scott Duncan (Scotland East & University of Stirling), Ryan Peniston (Essex & University of Memphis) and Holly Hutchinson (Middlesex & Old Dominion University).
Organised by the International University Sports Federation (FISU), the World University Games occur once every two years, and consists of 18 sports. The event has risen to world class in both scale and standard, with over 10,000 students from over 150 countries taking part. The LTA, the governing body for tennis in Britain, and BUCS (British Universities & Colleges Sport) work together to select the GB student tennis team for the event.
With the likes of British doubles star Joe Salisbury winning a gold medal at the Games in 2015, representing Great Britain at this level is now recognised as a fantastic stepping stone for student-athletes to progress to the professional game – with previous GB university team members including the likes of rising British tennis stars Jonny O’Mara and Maia Lumsden.
Entries to the World University Games are made by BUCS on behalf of Great Britain & NI, supported by the National Governing Bodies of sport in Great Britain, with the level of performance dovetailing with NGB World Class performance pathways. The next World University Games are set to take place in 2021.
Who said what?
Speaking about her experience and medal win, Arbuthnott said:
“I had an absolutely fantastic time in Naples and it was definitely a fortnight to remember! It’s playing events like this that make all the hard work worthwhile and I am so grateful to have been able to represent my country and share the experience with some brilliant people. From the opening ceremony to mixed doubles night matches and evenings, the trip had everything and winning a silver medal really topped it off.”
Echoing Arbuthnott’s enthusiasm, LTA Universities Manager Alistair Higham commented:
“Over the past few years, university tennis has become an important part of the LTA’s performance pathway. Our GB student team has now won eight major international medals in the last four years, with current and former team members going on to produce excellent results in the professional game. I’m extremely proud of this year’s team and thrilled they’re returning home with yet another medal.”
GB Team Leader for the Games and Director of Tennis at the University of Bath Barry Scollo added:
"The LTA and BUCS have supported the GB student tennis team since 2012 and in that time we have had some great medal success. This year’s Games were so unique and all of our players responded well and adapted their games to the clay courts.
“We came so close in all doubles competitions in the quarter-finals so the whole team should feel proud of their performances, but a special mention has to go to Emily for the level of tenacity and fight she showed throughout her matches. To win a singles medal at this level with the quality of field from across the world is huge and something she should feel immensely proud of”.
Scott Duncan (University of Stirling) – Round of 64
Ryan Peniston (University of Memphis) – Round of 16
Emily Arbuthnott (Stanford University) – Runner-up (Silver Medal)
Holly Hutchinson (Old Dominion University) – Round of 64 (Consolation Draw - Last 16)
Duncan/Peniston – Round of 16
Arbuthnott/Hutchinson – Quarter-finals
Arbuthnott/Duncan – Quarter-finals