Great Britain claimed gold in the men’s doubles and silver in the mixed doubles at the World University Games in South Korea, making it the most successful games ever for Great Britain’s tennis team.
Funded and supported by the Tennis Foundation, a team of six players made the trip to Gwangju, South Korea to compete in the prestigious event which is this second largest multi-sport event after the Olympics with 10,000 athletes taking part.
Darren Walsh from Southern Methodist University in Texas, and Joe Salisbury from the University of Memphis defeated home favourites Hyeon Cheung and Ji Sung Nam from South Korea 2-6, 6-3, 10-8 in the final to claim Britain’s first gold medal for ten years in the tennis competition.
Against the backdrop of a noisy South Korean crowd, the Brits recovered from a slow start in hot and humid conditions to win through, clinching a tight Championship tie-break 10-8 after some nerveless play at the net.
“This has been one of the best experiences of my tennis career and probably my greatest achievement,” said a delighted Salisbury. “The team environment we created was very special and made the trip so much fun.”
Having started their campaign by beating the top seeds from America, Martin Redlicki and Austin Rapp 6-1, 6-4, the British players excelled all week against higher-ranked opposition with their opponents Cheung and Nam in the final having an ATP singles ranking of 79 and an ATP doubles ranking of 286.
Darren Walsh added: “It's been a great week. The spirit within the tennis team has been fantastic and I've really enjoyed watching and being supported by the wider British team from all sports. To win a gold and silver is an amazing experience and something I will cherish for a long time."
Walsh enjoyed a doubly successful tournament after partnering Alex Walker from the University of Bath to silver in the mixed doubles. Walsh and Walker exceeded expectations to make the final defeating the number one seeds from Taiwain, Hsien-Yin Peng and Kai-Chen Chang in the semi-finals.
However, despite their best efforts they couldn’t match the highly experienced and consistent Belarussian pairing of Lidziya Marosova and Andrei Vasilevski, going down 6-2, 6-3 in the final to take the silver medal.
Alex Walker said: “Competing in the World University Games has been an incredible experience and has definitely been the highlight of my sporting career so far.
“The team spirit and atmosphere have really made the experience for me, and I couldn't ask for a better way to top it off than with a silver medal, except maybe winning gold!”
Alistair Higham, Team Manager and Universities Manager at the Tennis Foundation said: "The gold and silver medals are a result professionalism, hard work and fantastic team spirit.”
Both Joe Salisbury who won Gold and Alex Walker who won silver are graduates of our AASE programme