Shaw and Samuel capture British Tour Masters titles
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16-year-old Eva Shaw and 19-year-old Toby Samuel captured the LTA British Tour Masters titles after three days of battling it out on the indoor courts at Loughborough University.
The revamped format for 2021 saw players compete in two round robin groups of four players, with the top two in each group going through to a knockout semi-final and final.
Both champions win £3k in prize money & a guaranteed main draw wild card into one of the $25k GB Pro Series events scheduled for January / February 2022.
Samuel defeated Lui Maxted in the men's singles final 6-3, 6-3 in an hour and 15 minutes to lift the 2021 Britsh Tour Masters trophy.
Samuel who has just finished his first semester at South Carolina State University, arrived in Wednesday's final without dropping a set, despite a close semi-final against fellow teenager Billy Blaydes - which he won 6-3, 6-4.
The men’s final saw Samuel up against Maxted, another player who has just finished his first semester in America, at Texas Christian University (whose former players include fellow Brits Cameron Norrie & Paul Jubb).
Maxted arrived in the final after a thrilling 6-2, 1-6, 10-5 victory over big serving Cambridge University student Michal Kaminski. However, in the final it was top seed Samuel who prevailed - recovering from 3-0 down in the second set to wrap up a straight sets win.
"It was a great match, a great fight from Lui, especially in that tight second set where he went up 3-0 and I did well to battle back and win it."
I played really well in the match, served much better than I have this week, which helped me a lot - overall I'm very happy.
My short-term goal now is to keep playing in college and try and get to the top of college and then long-term I want to play full-time and get my name out there.
The women’s final saw Loughborough LTA National Academy player Eva Shaw defeat Emma Wilson 4-6, 6-0, 10-7, in a repeat of their opening match in Group B.
Wilson arrived in the final having defeated top seed Freya Christie in the semi-final in a match lasting exactly two hours - coming through with a 6-4, 3-6, 10-6 victory.
Seeking revenge for her group match defeat (to Shaw), Wilson gained the early momentum in the final capturing the first set 6-4. However, Shaw, the reigning 18U an 16U National Champion, seized control of the second set, blitzing through it without losing a game.
In the match tie-break Wilson showed great strength to come back from 6-1 down to level the scores at 6-6, but Shaw was able to use her weapon of a forehand to put the match to bed at 10-7.
Shaw’s victory saw her follow in the footsteps of Emma Raducanu - the 2020 LTA British Tour Masters Champion - a player who she had played on the grass at the British Tour event at Felixstowe in May.
"It was a tough final and I knew it would be, as we played in the group stages," said Shaw after her final victory.
"It was a great fight from me after losing the first set - I thought I played well and how I wanted to play."
"To see her (Raducanu) do so well at Wimbledon and then the US Open inspires me to want to go on and do that, because I know she has. It's good to look up to those players and want to do the same."
"My short term goal is to hopefully win a $25k event and then long term is to win all the Grand Slams... lots of times!"
Each year, the male and female players who finish top of the British Tour leaderboard at the end of the season are announced as the Bonus Pool champions and receive a prize payment of £500.
Emma Wilson finished top of the women's leaderboard for 2021, ending the year with 20,920 points from seven events. Her highlights this season include titles at her hometown event in Newcastle (August) and also at Redbridge (October). Wilson beat second place Katarina Stresnakova to the crown by nearly 3,000 points.
On the men's side, Michal Kaminski finished the year as Bonus Pool champion with 18,561 points from nine events. He just managed to pip Michael Shaw to the title in what was a close race - Shaw finishing 2021 on 18,364 points.
The Cambridge University student won one title in 2021 at Felixstowe (May), where US Open champion Raducanu won the women’s title.