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Brave Willis loses out in Preston semi-final

4th February 2013

Fresh from a career best performance at the Glasgow futures event last week, where Marcus beat two of the top ranked British players to win his first singles title at senior level, Marcus carried over his good form into the Preston futures, where he made the semi-finals. Following his exertions in Scotland, Marcus received a wild card for the main draw at Preston, as recognition for the significant progress he has made under the management of the CEO of A1 Pharmaceuticals PLC, Pharmacist Gary Lewis.

Marcus was again unseeded for the tournament, but full of confidence following Glasgow, albeit slightly tired following an intensive week of tennis. First up for Marcus was a qualifier, Joshua Ward-Hibbert. Marcus was able to overcome a slow start, and the loss of the first set on a tie-break, to win the next two sets relatively comfortably, securing the break of serve necessary in each set to advance to the second round. Marcus’ second round opponent was world number 509 Andrew Fitzpatrick. Like most of Marcus opponents in the Glasgow futures, Marcus was again giving away several hundred places in the world rankings to his opponent. In both Glasgow and Preston, Marcus is beginning to make a habit of having his matches decided by tie-break. After matching Fitzpatrick blow for blow throughout the first set, Fitzpatrick claimed the tie-break 7-4 after securing a mini-break early on. Marcus hit back immediately, taking the second set 6-3 to force a decider. Again the set went to a tie-break, with Marcus this time edging it 8-6.

In the quarter finals, Marcus avoided a scheduled showdown with top seed Josh Goodall, who lost in the first round to another of Devonshire Park’s new signings, Neil Pauffley. Neil was subsequently knocked out by Alexander Ward, the world number 435. Ward had beaten Marcus comfortably the last time the pair had met, at a futures event in Thailand in November. That trip was Marcus’s first under the sponsorship of A1, so the quarter final match up with Ward would prove to be the ideal guage of Marcus’ progress since then. Marcus made his best start of the tournament, racing through the first set 6-3. Ward was not fazed, and quickly built up a 5-0 lead in the second set. Marcus held serve for 5-1, but Ward was able to comfortably close out the set with a service hold. Perhaps inevitably, the third set went to a tie-break. Marcus served confidently throughout, claiming the tie-break 7-1, and with it, the match.

Marcus’ semi-final opponent would be the American, Christian Harrison, who Marcus had beaten at the same stage in Glasgow. After winning three straight matches in three sets, coupled with a gruelling event in Glasgow, Marcus was starting feel the strain. After losing the first set 6-2, Marcus and Christian were level pegging at 5-5 in the second. Even though Marcus had beaten Harrison comfortably in straight sets the week before, he was unable to repeat the performance this time round, as Harrison sealed a crucial break of serve, before serving out for a 6-2, 7-5 victory.

Nonetheless, Marcus had another great week overall, and has gained 24 ATP world ranking points in two tournaments, which will see him climb over 200 places in the world rankings when the rankings list is issued on Monday. This more than justifies the faith shown in Marcus by his manager, Gary Lewis, who began sponsorship and management of Marcus following the LTA’s decision to cut his funding. After two fantastic performances in back to back futures tournaments, Gary is now setting Marcus a typically ambitious, but achievable, A1 target of reaching the top 100 in singles in three years time. Marcus will play another futures event in Sheffield next week, before returning to train at the newly opened A1 Pharmaceuticals Tennis Academy in Kent during February.

www.a1plc.co.uk

For further information, or if interested in joining the A1 Tennis Academy, where kids go free, please contact Gary Lewis: gary@a1plc.co.uk

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