Finals: It’s Nele in 3 against sister Tinne

[1] Nele Gilis (BEL) 3-0 [2] Tinne Gilis (BEL)  11-9, 11-6, 11-3 (49m)

First of all, a thought for Mum Gilis who was watching the final from middle of front row…

“It’s always mixed feeling because one loses and one wins. I always hope they play a good match, and for me, they are always both winners.

In fact, for once in my life, I got the two winners right. It had to happen once at least in 36 years… I thought that every time the sisters had played up to now, Nele was above Tinne in the rankings, and the elder.  She HAD to win. Now the foot is on the other shoe: Tinne is above in the rankings, she is the one that won everything for the past months. So, this time, pressure was on Junior.

First game was crucial. 5 points in a row for Tinne, 6/2. 5 points in a row for Nele. 7/6. A huge rally at the point, both girls attacking and retrieving the irretrievable. 7/7. A couple of errors from Nele, very frustrated with herself, 9/7, for Junior.

But out of the blue, Nele finds her best squash, forcing her sister to visit the four corners. She scores the following 4 points, taking the opener 11/9 in 19m.

The pressure is now on Tinne, and it forces some uncharacteristic errors out of her racquet: 5 to be precise. Only one for Nele. Close up to 5/5, and again, at the end of the game, Nele finds herself cruising points, although rallies are long and gruelling, 19m of intense and superb squash.

The third, Junior doesn’t show up, 5/0, 6/1, 9/2, 11/3 in 9m for Nele, in tears, and we with her. After the terrible year she had last year, she might have believed she would never play at the level she used to. But tonight, she did.

Tinne

I just want to thank the crowd and everyone from the organisation. This tournament’s been amazing as always. I really enjoyed my whole week here. It’s been amazing from the beginning until the end and I’m very happy and proud to be in the final today against my sister.

“Obviously I’m sad I didn’t win, but happy that at least one of us won! I’m happy my family was here and it just makes it extra special. The support was unreal and I cannot wait for the next one. Thank you all so much, you’re amazing!”

Nele

“Nantes has always been a very special place for me. I always play so well here, in front of this crowd. I love coming here and today, playing in my biggest final ever, against my sister and in front of my mum and all these amazing people, is so special and I can’t quite find the words right now!

“I honestly came here with no expectations. I just wanted to play good squash and see where it got me. Winning this tournament, I could only dream of it. To win here in Nantes, two times, is incredible. I can’t find the words. “The energy you all gave me this week is amazing and thank you so much to everyone.

I also want to thank Tinne for a really good final. She beat me last time so I really wanted to have my revenge today. She’s been playing so well and I almost didn’t believe that I could beat her. But I’m so happy and proud of her. It was such a special night for both of us.

“We both played our biggest final, in possibly both of our favourite tournaments in our favourite place. I actually said this morning that, no matter what happens, we’ll both be winners. I really believe that’s true. I think we were both winners today. It was such a special night and one I’ll never forget.

“Lastly, I want to say a massive thank you to all the volunteers for making this week possible. The fact you all do it for the love of the game is incredible and I cannot thank you enough. And also the crowd, I love coming here and it’s because of you guys, thank you so much.”

It’s the best event on tour, without a doubt! I want to thank you guys so much because you do it for the love of the sport. It’s incredible, thank you so much!”