Welcome to this week’s column. This week’s stories come from tennis, football, netball, cycling and cricket.
A good week again for British women’s tennis. After reporting on Heather Watson’s progress in the Monterrey Open last week, she only went on to win it! She beat Belgian Kirsten Flipkens in the final 3-6 6-2 6-3. It is Watson’s third WTA title win.
And the tournaments keep on coming. Watson is in action again this week, this time in Indian Wells. She is through to the second round after beating Galina Voskoboeva of Kazakhstan 7-6 4-6 6-1. She takes on 32nd seed Monica Niculescu in round two.
One of the most heartening sights of the week was the return of Laura Robson to the WTA tour. She was beaten in the first round at Indian Wells 7-6 6-2 by Magdalena Rybarikova, but the result didn’t really matter. It was the first time Robson had been in a tournament since the US Open in August 2015.
“I’m 100% better. The last time I felt pain was in January,” said Robson in an interview with the BBC.
Of course, we can’t ignore the other big tennis story of the week. Maria Sharapova announced this week that she had failed a drugs test during the Australian Open in January. She tested positive for the banned substance, meldonium. She had been taking the substance since 2006, apparently for health reasons. Meldonium has only been on the banned substances register since the beginning of this year.
The ITF (International Tennis Federation) has provisionally suspended Sharapova. She could face a 2-year ban.
Not wanting to be controversial, but I just wonder what the reaction would have been had it been Serena Williams who had failed the test….
After reporting Laura Trott’s first gold medal at the World Track Cycling Championships, needless to say she won again before the event was out, this time in the omnium. She was 12 points ahead when it came to the final 100-lap points race. And she never looked in trouble. She dominated from the start and the gold medal was confirmed with 20 laps to go.
France’s Laurie Berthon finished second with American Sarah Hammer in third.
England finished third in the SheBelieves Cup on goals scored after losing against Germany and drawing with France this week.
England were incredibly unlucky against Germany. They led through Toni Duggan header up until the 76th minute when they conceded an own-goal and a penalty to lose the game. Gilly Flaherty put the ball into her own net, which was unlucky enough, but the penalty award was a real shocker. Fara Williams, winning her 150th cap was adjudged to have foul tackled Alexandra Popp, when it was obvious to all except the officials that she took the ball cleanly.
England Head Coach, Mark Sampson, was unhappy about the standard of officiating. This has been a recurrent theme in women’s football recently and will have to be tackled by football’s governing bodies.
Good football was at a premium during the France match, not because the teams weren’t capable, but because the pitch was so dire. France really should have taken the lead in the first half as they had several chances, and England were relieved to go in level at half-time.
To counteract the pitch, both sides resorted to the long ball in the second half, but the deadlock was not to be broken and the game finished 0-0.
The winners of the tournament were USA after they beat Germany 2-1. Germany took the lead through Anja Mittag, but the hosts came back with two goals in six minutes from Alex Morgan and Samantha Mewis.
Wales finished the Cyprus Cup without a win. Their last hope was against Hungary on Wednesday, but they lost 2-1 to a goal in the last minute. This was the 5th/6th place play-off. Four games, two draws, two defeats. The tournament winners were Austria. They beat Poland in the final 2-1.
Really sad news from Doncaster Belles this week. Their midfielder Ashleigh Mills has had to retire at the age of 20 after being diagnosed with multiple sclerosis.
She posted on Twitter:
“I have tried so hard to get back but my legs just won’t go. Unfortunately this disease cannot be beaten and has taken my dream.”
The latest round of Netball Superleague results were as follows:
|Friday 4th March|
|Celtic Dragons||53||45||Team Northumbria|
|Team Bath||60||44||Loughborough Lightning|
Saturday 5th March
|Yorkshire Jets||44||49||Manchester Thunder|
|Surrey Storm||50||55||Hertfordshire Mavericks|
Monday 7th March
|Hertfordshire Mavericks||67||45||Celtic Dragons|
The World T20 Cup starts on Tuesday in India. I’ll be covering it for WSUK, so expect plenty of match reports, news and comment. I’ll keep posting the links on my blog so you can follow it all. England begin on Thursday against Bangladesh. The media coverage is, surprisingly, a bit hit and miss. Some of it is on Sky, some on TMS. So if you can’t follow it live, I suggest you check in on my blog or on WSUK to keep up with what’s going on.
And finally, Women in Sport has announced its first patron – England women’s football Head Coach, Mark Sampson. Yes, it’s a man. But he is, in my opinion, a really good choice. He is unstinting in his promotion of women’s sport and has the ear of people who may actually be able to make a difference.
In accepting the position he said,
“Greater equality in sport is a cause men need to get behind as much as women do and I look forward to working more closely with the charity to further its mission.”