Esther Adeshina was the recent female winner at the Millfield Progress Tour event. She’s also Great Britain’s no. 3 ranked 16U girl and currently sits no. 217 on the ITF junior world ranking list.
We caught up to Esther to discuss her victory at Millfield, including her match competition against the boys.
Barry Fulcher (BF): Esther, Congratulations on winning The Female Bonus Prize at Millfield School, having made the Quarter-Finals of the Main Draw, how did you enjoy your first Progress Tour experience?
Esther Adeshina (EA): Thank you. Yeah, I really enjoyed playing this tournament, at first I was a bit nervous about playing against boys as I haven’t played a match against one since orange ball! But, overall it was a great experience and it’s nice to have a different challenge once in while.
“I would say just go for it and play, and that I understand why females may initially feel at a disadvantage or that it’s unfair, but boys are not unbeatable!”Esther Adeshina
BF: You came through two very tight encounters in your first two rounds, both against male players. Did you find it different to a normal match and if so, how?
EA: I went into both matches not really expecting much, just aiming to do my best and not lose 0 and 0, Haha! I just wanted to treat it like any other match and not put pressure on myself to win.
BF: Did you have to make any major adjustments against them tactically?
EA: Yeah, both boys came into the net a lot which is different to the game styles I’m used to playing as there aren’t that many girls that come forward as much as they did. So I had to come up with some decent lobs and angles to try and pass them at the net. Also, the serve was something I struggled to deal with at first as they came through so fast so I just tried to block them back and get them back into play.
BF: Did you enjoy competing against the boys?
EA: Yeah I actually did, I mean the boys probably didn’t like losing to a girl but, like, confidence-wise, it has definitely boosted me, and like I said it’s quite nice to have a different challenge once in a while.
BF: You won a tight two-set match against 3rd Seed, Seb Harris. Talk us through the ups and downs of that match.
EA: I knew going into the match that I was gonna have to play well if I was going to win, which is exactly what I did at the start, going 3-0 up. After that, I think Seb managed to find his rhythm and cruised the next 5 games going 5-3 up. By this time I was starting to think he was too strong for me but I kind of got lucky, as I saved a set point at 3-5, and at 4-5 he had a sitter volley on top of the net and he missed it, so I think that point changed the set around massively. The second set was pretty tight again and I got a bit nervous towards the end as the rest of his Millfield team came to support him but I somehow managed to scrape through!
BF: What do you think the benefits of the UTR system are? In terms of the rating itself, but also in terms of the cross-age and cross-gender format we use for The Progress Tour?
EA: I think that it’s quite an interesting event which gives opportunities for both male and female players to boost up their UTR ratings. It’s also something different to normal LTA tournaments, especially for the females as they are playing for more prize money than the males.
BF: What type of events are you currently focusing on; ITF juniors and pro, LTA events?
EA: At the moment I’m playing junior ITFs every few months, but I’m taking my GCSEs this year so cutting back on the tournaments and focusing on (academic) work more.
BF: How would the Progress Tour events fit into your tournament schedule?
EA: I think that it’s good having the Progress Tour events quite local as I don’t have to travel too far and I can still get some very good match play in as well as the money side of it is quite attractive too.
BF: Do you have a message for other female players out there who might be keen or unsure about playing against male players?
EA: I would say just go for it and play, and that I understand why females may initially feel at a disadvantage or that it’s unfair, but boys are not unbeatable! Also, you are playing for money as well so there are some extra bonuses of playing the tournament too.
BF: Three words to sum up your experience in Millfield.
EA: Amazing, fun, competitive!
BF: Would The Progress Tour events be something you’d look to take part in again in the future?
EA: Yes definitely. This one at Millfield was my first one and it was such a great experience and I stayed with a lovely host family who looked after me so well. It’s such a friendly tournament, meeting new people and making more friends. The atmosphere really makes it a good tournament to be part of.
Thanks to Esther for the interview. Be sure to add the next Progress Tour event to your calendar.