GB Players Star in adidas HOP Finals Showdown!

By RJ Mitchell

AIMEE GIBSON believes her victory in the adidas HOP Tour finals has provided the perfect sign off to 2023.

GB’s No.1 domestic ranked female player partnered with Tia Norton, who is at No.2 in the GB rankings, to produce an impressive three-victory winning sequence at the Padel Hub to claim what was the fourth victory of an awesome unbeaten domestic season for the duo.

Despite determined opposition from Lisa Phillips and Sophia Haine in the final, Aimee and Tia triumphed 6-3, 6-4, surviving a gutsy second set fight-back by their opponents, to claim the first ever adidas HOP Women’s title.

Aimee Gibson and Tia Norton defeat Lisa Philips and Sophia Haine in the women’s final

Now reflecting on her pairings ‘invincible’ domestic campaign which includes victories at Rocks Lane, Harrogate, and Derby before last Saturday’s seminal triumph in Slough, Aimee shared: “So this was our fourth win of the year and we have won every tournament we have played together in the UK and that is just a great feeling. Really there is no better way to finish the year, especially as this was the adidas HOP Tour Finals.

“I feel like there is always a little bit of pressure on Tia and me when we play together but once we get on court we know each other’s games very well and that just makes things pretty relaxed – it also helps that we get on really well off court.

“In the final I felt like my consistency and the way we built the points was very good and with Tia coming across to finish the point off that was very effective.

“Going forward any Grade Ones, if we are in the UK, we will play together, and hopefully we can also play international events as well.” 

Aimee Gibson and Tia Norton

With this being the first time a women’s event had been run, in what was the third edition of the HOP Tour Finals, where the most consistent performers of the year meet, Aimee admitted there was extra kudos to the victory.

The GB international said: “It is nice to have a finals where all of the best players from the year come together and it was just a great way to finish 2023 off.

“But the tournament was really well run by HOP and the Padel Hub was a great venue, so it was just a great event and we are delighted we won it.”

Meanwhile the developing partnership of Nikhil Mohindra and Jamie Eccleton confounded the seedings with a shock 6-4, 6-2 victory over top ranked Frankie Langan and Nick Hatchett in the men’s final.

Jamie Eccleton and Nikhil Mohindra win the Pro final

While in the HOP Tour event there was a surprise success for Tommy Cartlege and Bradley Burnett-Smith against exciting teenage talents Oscar Warneryd and Barney Brown, who followed up their recent victory in the first ever HOP Youth event with another vibrant campaign.

Taking an overview of the first adidas sponsored HOP Tour Finals day, co-founder John Leach had no doubts it was the best yet.

John said: “For sure this has been our best finals day yet and a big step up. This is partly because we had a larger field but also as the Padel Hub allowed us to be a bit more elaborate.

“It was also the largest field in the three years we have been running and of course we had a female event for the first time and the feedback was really positive.

“So it just felt like a nice combination with padel and the venue the Padel Hub really helped with that. It’s just a nice place to hang out.

“As a finals it was a great day with a DJ and our event announcer Emily was awesome while Charles Winterton (Padel Hub founder) was a great guy to work with and he helped make the event the success it undoubtedly was.”

Turning his attention to the respective finals, John, who is also the Team GB Men’s Team coach, said: “The men’s final was a very high quality match and Nikhil and Jamie showed a lot of composure and discipline and kept their game at a high level throughout.

“They came from a break down in the first set and broke at the end of it and their confidence grew from there and they just didn’t let Frankie and Nick back in it second set.”

Looking back at the first women’s final John was again impressed by the quality of the action and he said: “Again a really high quality final with Lisa and Sophia fighting back from 5-1 down in the second set and almost pulling it back but the experience and class of Tia and Aimee was too much.

“They are a fine partnership and the structure and way they built the points was very impressive and I think they proved yet again that in GB they are the partnership to beat.”

There were also warm words of encouragement from our co-founder for the HOP Tour finalists which saw Tommy Cartlege and Bradley Burnett-Smith defeat youngsters Oscar Warneryd and Barney Brown..

Tommy Cartledge, winner of the Tour event

John said: “Tommy and Bradley are both ex-tennis players and they brought their skills to the court and their work rate and determination were just very impressive.

“I told them at the end that they need to recreate that on the adidas HOP PRO Tour as they are now not able to play HOP Tour again.

“As for Oscar and Barney, they were really competitive and they are two youngsters who have real potential in terms of their development in the senior game.”

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