Giles Gunning has won the British under-16 real tennis title by beating the top two seeds in the competition – despite being debilitated by cramp.
The tournament at Queen’s Club, London did not start well for Chichester starlet Gunning. He lost his opening match to second seed Charlie Braham but went on to win his remaining group matches for a place in the final, in which Braham was again his opponent.
“This was always going to be the hardest tournament I was going to play this year. I knew after losing the first match I could still get through even if the prospects were slim. I played well in the next match so gained confidence back from that,” said Gunning, a Year 11 pupil at Portsmouth Grammar School.
“My last group match was the one that theoretically I was set to lose. However, I played better than I had all year and won, taking me to the final.”
No3 seed Giles (15) was ahead in the first set of the final against Braham when he collapsed with cramp.
He overcame the pain and despite having to limp around, went on to win that set and the next to take the championship in straight sets, adapting his play to make the most of accuracy rather than fitness.
Gunning switched from lawn to real tennis four years ago after a friend invited him to play at Hayling Island – and he has never looked back.
Next year his main goal is to add the under-18 British championship to his under-16, 14 and 12 national titles. He is British under-15 doubles champion with PGS’s Jess Garside.
Earlier this year Gunning narrowly missed winning a British under-21 title despite being just 15, losing to older brother Maxwell, then 17. It’s thought to be the first time brothers have come first and second in the amateur handicap competition, which was held in Colchester.