Lea Van Der Zwalmen (WT 2015), competed in the Ladies' Real Tennis World Championship in April 2022.
Wednesday, June 1
Lea Van Der Zwalmen (WT 2015), the Ladies’ World Rackets Champion since 2015 and Ladies’ Real Tennis World Number 2, competed in the Ladies’ Real Tennis World Championship in April 2022. The tournament was held in her home country, France, being staged at the fine old Jeu de Paume (as Real Tennis is known in France) court at the Palace of Fontainebleau.
Lea was too strong in the quarterfinals against the Dutch Number 1 and World Number 6, Saskia Bollerman, winning the match 6/3 6/3. She marched on, achieving an even more emphatic win in the semi-finals against the British Number 2 and World Number 3, Tara Lumley, defeating her 6/0/6/2.
In the final, Lea inevitably faced the defending champion, Claire Fahey. I say ’inevitably’ because Claire is a formidable opponent. The best-ever female player of this game, she has achieved the lowest-ever handicap for a female player. She is the British Number 1, the World Number 1 and holder of the World Championship title since 2011 – and she is still only 29 years old.
Lea played her best, but was outgunned by Claire, who returned everything and made almost no errors. The result reflected the handicap difference between the two and so went to the form book, but with no disgrace whatever to Lea. Losing 6/0, 6/2 to Claire is a better result than any other female player can hope for, and certainly gives Lea an additional incentive (if one were needed) to close the gap in time for the next iteration of the Ladies’ World Championship.
Within a fortnight, Lea was travelling to Queen’s club to defend her World Rackets title, and did so, though being pressed hard at times by the rapidly-improving young player, Cesca Sweet. Congratulations to Lea on a fine month’s racquet play, as she remains the top female player in Rackets and number 2 in the world in Real Tennis.
Miles Buckinghamshire with thanks to Maggie Henderson – Tew for writing the article and to the Ladies Real Tennis Association for providing the photograph