Appleton Takes First Title In Dublin

18-year-old defeats Sasha Hill in Irish Open final at Carrickmines

2018 Irish Open champion Emily Appleton with the trophy
The 2018 Irish Open champion Emily Appleton with her trophy | Crosscourt View

By Stephen Higgins | 6 August 2018

On a balmy Sunday in the outskirts of Dublin, Great Britain’s Emily Appleton claimed her first ITF singles title at Carrickmines Croquet & Lawn Tennis Club with a 6-4 6-3 win over compatriot Sasha Hill.

The 18-year-old, ranked 613 in the world, took the final in 84 minutes thanks to superb serving, destructive forehands and a resilient mentality.

“I definitely stayed focused. I dealt with setbacks and just trusted my game and the way I know I can play. It got me through at the end,” said the 2018 Irish Open champion post-match.

Appleton possesses a thunderous first serve and it was particularly effective in the first set. The Chertsey native won 93% of points on her first delivery and 64% on the second.

Hill could not hold serve as comfortably and her opponent’s pressure proved too great in the tenth game. Serving at 4-5 down, the 17-year-old fell 30-40 behind and Appleton struck to pinch the opening set.

Appleton began the second set and in a surprise twist, surrendered serve for the first time. Hill, who was playing in her first professional tournament, could not capitalise and gave the break back after the change of ends.

There were a total of five breaks in a turbulent second set but Appleton was unphased and kept her mind on the task.

“I just tried to win each point...If she played a good point, I just accepted it and moved on to the next. I just tried to get a run and a little momentum here and there…”

Emily Appleton and Sasha Hill trade groundstrokes
Hill (nearest) and Appleton trade groundstrokes during the final | Crosscourt View

Chances continued to fall for the 18-year-old and the crucial one came in the eighth game.

Appleton seized the first point on Hill’s serve and eventually broke her. The Sky Sports Scholar could now serve for the match and a first professional singles title.

It did not start well for her though.

Hill, who fought admirably all afternoon, grabbed three of the first five points. Appleton recovered and had to stave off a pair of break points before that formidable serve carried her to a victory of special significance.

“It feels really nice. It’s a relief to get the monkey off my back. To win the title here in Ireland is extra special because I got my first junior title here in Dublin [in 2014 at Donnybrook Lawn Tennis Club].”

Appleton received 12 WTA ranking points for her efforts, a cheque worth approximately €2,000 and a healthy shot of confidence for the rest of the season.

“I just want to keep playing matches, winning matches, and then the ranking really takes care of itself because if you’re doing well then you’re going to rise anyway. So that’s really the goal, just to keep playing well and enjoying it of course.”