British qualifier Jack Findel-Hawkins stepped into the spotlight by claiming a notable scalp as six of the tournament’s eight seeds were knocked out in the first round of the Budgen Motors GB Pro-Series.
Findel-Hawkins hit back from a set down to beat No 1 seed Joris De Loore, who played for Belgium in the Davis Cup earlier this month and is currently ranked 312 in the world, at The Shrewsbury Club.
The 23-year-old from Devon is now excited about facing fellow Brit Marcus Willis, last year’s runners-up in Shrewsbury, in the second round of the $25,000 tournament today.
“It’s a great start to the tournament,” said Findel-Hawkins, who recently completed four years in the USA at North Florida University. “I’ve had a couple of tough weeks playing against some good guys. It felt like I was playing well, but it’s good to finally get a good result like that.”
He was delighted to win through 5-7, 6-3, 7-5 in two hours 15 minutes after hitting the heights against the top seed.
Findel-Hawkins: “I always felt if I could keep serving well that at least I would stay in the match. I had two break points in each set and took them, so it was just clinical from my point of view.”
As for playing Willis next, he’s looking forward to facing the man who memorably met Roger Federer on Wimbledon’s Centre Court in 2016.
Findel-Hawkins added: “I played him a long time ago when I was 16 or 17, so it’s been a while and obviously he’s achieved some pretty cool things since then. It will be fun.”
Willis advanced to the second round by beating Switzerland’s Adrien Bossel 5-7, 7-5, 6-2.
The only two seeds to progress to round two yesterday were Brit Ed Corrie, seeded five, who got the better of qualifier George Houghton in straight sets, and No 7 seed Maximilian Neuchrist, from Austria, who knocked out Brit Luke Johnson.
But it was a disappointing day for the other seeds as they all fell at the first hurdle, with No 2 seed Yannick Mertens, from Belgium, beaten by French player Evan Furness, while third seed, Slovakian Filip Horansky, lost to Fabien Reboul of France.
There was also an early exit for sixth seed Boy Westerhof, beaten by fellow Dutch player Igor Sijsling, and fourth seed, Frenchman Yannick Jankovits, who bowed out in three sets to experienced Dane Freddie Nielsen.
No 8 seed David Pichler, from Austria, fell to Brit Evan Hoyt, who impressively saved four mach points before prevailing 5-7, 7-5, 6-2.
British Davis Cup star James Ward, on the comeback trail from injury, enjoyed a winning return to action in his first match for six months as he eased through 6-2, 6-2 against Spanish player Andres Artunedo Martinavarro inside 65 minutes.
The other British players through to the second round are Lloyd Glasspool, who accounted for Jonathan Gray 7-6, 6-1, Billy Harris and Alexis Canter.
Today’s second round action starts at The Shrewsbury Club at 11.30am, with admission free to spectators all week.