‘It was a different experience for me. It’s never happened before and not in the UK’
Media playback is not supported on this device BETH HARMON’S BALL THE FIFTY FOUR!’
Queen’s coach Steve Furber tells Kath Gowen about being docked a match point and Beth Harmon’s close encounter with a ball.
There has been much debate around Beth Harmon’s match against Chelsea at Queen’s.
The judges did not award her a point when she had the chance to close out the match but it’s not the first time Beth’s been in such a position.
Beth has played with her at the Queen’s Girls Cup many times and we have been played six of the last seven years.
When Beth arrives at the game she just doesn’t talk about the game. She goes into a zone and things start to get a bit more complicated.
She will think of people from her childhood who have made a lot of money and she wants to create some of that.
Beth describes herself as a “dorky” A-grade player. She spent most of her time at school playing in team sports and individual sports like volleyball, swimming and basketball.
Tennis did not happen until she was 17 and her target was to achieve 20 British titles by 2023. That means she must achieve 160 matches and 40 titles by the age of 23.
‘Everything depends on this one ball’
She entered her first national competition in an individual event and was told to stay for a third match. They said that she could play but that she couldn’t win. She said yes and went out and won the competition.
She had five different coaches in total and it was a very different experience for me. It’s never happened before and not in the UK.
She really was a minority. We used to see a lot of young players like her. It was not that many but they were not renowned. There is a high barrier in Britain for getting to the very top of the game and the Queen’s Gambit was all about her breakthrough.
In recent years, Beth has been diagnosed with Behcet’s disease, which affects her bowels and makes it more difficult for her to swallow.
She needs to constantly go to the toilet and it affects her entire digestive system and her whole body. She cannot have a job that is really physical and includes getting fit and fitter.
When Beth was doing the Queen’s Gambit, she was so pleased because there was a lot of thought and care put into the episode. It was thought out, every part was thought through.
So it’s unusual to see her out of character, in a golf shirt, because she obviously wears a lot of knickers when she is on her own with nowhere to go and nothing to do. So there was a golf shirt, more jeans, a dark shirt and she was dressed down.
Harmon with Margaret Court and Pat Cash at the Queen’s Gambit
She obviously knew that everything was up for grabs and they were lucky that the ball wasn’t hit out at the end because, in her mind, it was 100% the one point she needed.
Since the game, there has been a lot of talk on social media about whether she was docked a point. It was never a point and I don’t think it is right that she wasn’t.
I’ve watched the replays and there was no call. To me, she had the right ball in the right position when it landed.
I just felt it was a bit of a strange way to decide it.
Beth and Abbey Scott were the two young players representing England at the United States Open in Las Vegas on 1 November
When we were back at home in England, Beth was complaining that her stomach hurt. She was getting a lot of pain in her stomach and I was worried about her ability to go to the toilet if she was cramping or vomiting or really hurting.
Later, she had trouble with her jaw and was in pain about 2pm because the nerves around her mouth were getting so much pressure. She was vomiting and was really making a lot of effort to get down the stairs.
Beth was so lucky that her referee was from a US base and she was sent back to the sidelines. Beth will say she got the best decision.
She talks about getting help and then was probably quite pleased she didn’t have to sign a contract that said she can’t go into the bathroom without anybody.
It is so bizarre for a woman’s sport. There was such a different feel and this is a funny story about her. It was a great day for Beth but such a great story.