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ALBURY star Jade Culph’s dream of a third consecutive Margaret Court Cup crown ended yesterday after losing to unseeded Brisbane ace Josh Barrenechea.
Barrenechea defeated Culph in straight sets 6-3 6-2 at the Albury Grasscourts in front of a healthy crowd.
The match was a lot closer than the score line would suggest, with both players scrambling for every ball and not giving an inch.
“I feel terrific,” a beaming Barrenechea said after his victory.
“There was absolutely nothing in the match. It was only serving and returning out there on the grass, but I just did it better today.
“I served really well, and returned really well, but also got a few lucky net tapes, so I guess you could say it was just my day.
“The match felt like it was a lot tighter than the score line says. Every game was close.
“I just pulled out a good serve or a good return when it counted.
“If I didn’t make him play the ball, he couldn’t miss.
“I watched him yesterday and I knew I had to give him respect when he was at the net, but at the same time I had to take it to him because that was where I would win or lose the match.
“Fortunately for myself I just managed to do it better.”
Culph agreed, saying Barrenechea hit the shots when it mattered.
“Some of the games were really tight, but Josh was just too good when the big moments came around,” Culph said.
“He made the right returns and the right serves at the right time, and I just couldn’t match him on that.
“Josh was just too sharp for me with his serve and return today.”
Also in the Margaret Court Cup:
Culph had been hoping to win the tournament for an unprecedented third time in a row.
“I felt pretty good coming into the match, but I just pulled up short at the last hurdle,” Culph said.
“Three in a row just wasn’t meant to be.”
Meanwhile, the women’s singles AMT final was won by Ellen Perez, from Wollongong, who defeated Danielle Wagland in straight sets.
Perez outpaced her opponent from the get go and quickly wrapped up the final 6-1 6-0.
“It feels really good to get a win to begin the new year,” Perez said.
“Danielle has a big serve, which is especially hard to control on grass, but given the conditions I think I did really well.
“I managed to get on top early and was good enough to carry that through the match.”
Eighteen-year-old Perez will now head to Melbourne where she is hoping to be a hitting partner with the professional players at the Australian Open.