LEAMINGTON’S Tia Norton won her first international title at the London Padel Open as the British number one came through a tough draw with Spain’s Carla Fitó Fernandez.
Norton and Fitó went into the competition as second seeds and defeated top-ranked pair Maaike Betz and Natalia Sanz Garcia 7-5, 6-1 in the final at the National Tennis Centre.
The event was the first international padel tournament to be hosted in Great Britain.
Norton said: “To come away with a win from this tournament is absolutely incredible. We played a really good tournament and were really happy overall with how we competed.
“We came into the tournament with no expectations, every tournament we go match by match and here we are with a win at the end of it.”
The 18-year-old adds a first career title to a growing list of achievements having become the first British woman to win a World British Tour match last year at the Malaga Open.
Norton and Fitó produced a series of impressive performances and, notably, came from 5-2 and 0-40 down in the deciding set of their semi-final to beat Wendy Barsotti and Elodie Invernon 4-6, 6-1, 7-6(4).
Norton added: “The venue itself is absolutely incredible. The LTA have held such an incredible event, so I want to thank them for putting on such a great organisation.
“To come away with a win at such a professional event, the first professional event in the UK, it’s always nice winning on home turf but this one feels a little bit special.
“For now, I am going to be based in the UK a bit more, just continue competing, training and keep doing the same. This isn’t the end, it is only the beginning of a long journey ahead.”
LTA Head of Padel, Tom Murray, reflected on a milestone week for British padel after successfully hosting an international event for the first time.
Murray said: “I’m incredibly proud of Tia’s win. I never doubted her and had a feeling she might pull this one off.
“It’s unfortunate that both Hansie Ruddick and then Christian Medina Murphy in the men’s both lost in their respective semi-finals matches because it would’ve been fantastic to have more Brits in the finals.
“The overall feedback from the players has been second to none and are congratulating us on a great event and asking when our next tournament is so they can fit it into their calendars.”