Seven Up For Hird & Cooley

15/04/19: Karen Hird & Charlotta Cooley won the national ladies title in associaiotn with Advanta Wealth at Eton yesterday for the seventh year in succession, defeating second seeds Ashley Lumbard & Emily Scoones in a high quality final.

Watch the final here: GAME ONE     GAME TWO     GAME THREE

Since their first meeting in the final in 2017, these two pairs have proved themselves to be head and shoulders above the rest of the field in the ladies game. This year's competition has shown clearly that the gap is continuing to widen as both pairs continue to improve significantly, Ashley & Emily as they strive to achieve that elusive first win over the champions and Karen & Charlotta as they recognise the need to stay ahead of their closest challengers.

It is also no coincidence that both pairs have gone about it in very similar ways - playing together as much as possible, entering every possible open tournament and playing lots of matches in all three divisions of the league. There is a definite lesson to be learned there by any other up and coming young players who are serious about mounting their own challenge in this competition; failure to do so could easily result in these two pairs continuing to contest the final for several years to come.

Unsurprisingly there were a few early nerves at the start of the match, but it was the champions who settled first and who began to dominate the first game. Karen & Charlotta have both worked hard on their cutting and it paid off in spades here - Emily & Ashley were unable to find enough cut returns to get the scoreboard moving and found themselves under almost constant pressure with Charlotta rock solid from the back and middle of the court and Karen wreaking havoc with her trademark fast hands and reaction volleying.

Ashley & Emily settled down at the start of the second game and got into a better rhythm, getting closer to parity in the set piece and able to impose themselves on more of the play. Charlotta & Karen still had the edge, however; in the previous finals between the two, Ashley & Emily had always been able to find a run of points somewhere to win themselves a game and get back into the match. Karen & Charlotta were too solid this time, though, and with the quality of play from all four players remaining high throughout, the defending champions were always able to keep their noses in front in the second and third games, winning both 12-8 to secure the title for the seventh year in a row.

Watching these two pairs play each other continues to be a treat. Is there anyone else out there who can step up next year and give them a run for their money?

K.Hird & C.Cooley (1) beat A.Lumbard & E.Scoones (2) 3-0 (12-3, 12-8, 12-8)

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