Four days ago, today (Sunday) was confidently predicted by the Met Office to be a wash out. In the event it was an ideal day for tennis – mostly sunshine but with a few occasional clouds to stop it getting too hot.
In the men’s singles, Tim Simpson thought he was having a good match against the first seed, Graeme Pearson, because he was 2-0 40-15 up. False confidence. From that point Graeme proceded to take 12 straight games for a 6-2 6-0 victory.
Philip Reid beat Jeff Fine 6-3 6-3.
Peter Davies had a good start to the first set against the number four seed Greg Lim despite Greg getting the better of most of the low bounces on court 2. After exchanging breaks to get to 2 all, Peter held and broke Greg to lead 4-2. Greg stepped up his game and broke back and the score reached 5 all. On his serve Peter had an incoming volley behind the serve to get game point, but put it wide, which enabled Greg to break to win the set 7-5. By the time the second set got under way Greg had his eye in and his flat ground strokes were keeping Peter pinned to the back of the court. Although Peter had volleys and passing shots for game and break points, few went in and Greg’s superior execution enabled him to win 7-5 6-0.
By far the most watched men’s singles match was Marcio Sugui vs Gabor Felsen. Gabor’s approach to the change-overs (apart from the end of the first game of each set) may be unique in the annals of West Heath tournament play. At each change over Gabor would come off court, sit down at his seat on a spectator bench, munch some banana and take a swig of energy drink. Then he would walk back on to court to resume play.
The play itself was very defensive. Gabor preferring to slice the ball to various depths on the court. Marcio said later he felt heavy on his feet, and typically he would play very conservative topspin or slice shots nowhere near the lines, though there was one period where he went for it, and achieved a much higher win rate of points. But mostly he was too worried about unforced errors against Gabor who was retrieving and defending very well. Gabor won the first set 6-4. Marcio took the second 7-5 including his patch of finally hitting out, but Gabor won the third 6-4 after various interruptions to cause the match point rally to be played at least 3 times.
Sultan says Gabor’s “banana breaks” are well within the rules which allow 90 seconds, and those of Gabor which I took rough timings on were no longer than 60 seconds. So there is no issue there, despite various mutterings among the surprised and at least partially partisan crowd.
Geoff Isaacs beat Paul O’Flynn 6-4 7-6 7-2.
In the men’s doubles Greg Lim and James McKenzie had few problems in despatching Paul O’Flynn and Maciek Janowski, winning the match 6-1 6-3.
There were two mixed doubles matches played late on. In the first, James McKenzie and Lesley South were playing Sultan Gangji and Sally Tornow. Rachael Gangji was feeling exhausted after her lengthy spell managing the International Boxes on the Wimbledon centre and number one courts, so decided to take a rest during the West Heath tournament, and Richard Nightingale was feeling the same way after a lot of international travelling including another trip soon. The net of it was that Sally, originally Richard’s partner, ended up playing with Sultan. This was their second match, having beaten Oleg Khomenko and Moira Duncan in the first round.
Matters did not go so smoothly this time around for Sultan and Sally. Sultan did not seem at his best and missed a number of shots you would normally expect him to make, and the pair lost the first set 1-6. The second set was a tighter affair, but James and Lesley’s superior execution and tactical nous enabled them to win the match 6-1 6-4.
Not so fresh from his men’s singles defeat at the hands of Gabor Felsen, Marcio Sugui was partnered again in the number one seeding by Elena Valarche (one of the more partisan parties during Marcio’s singles match). The opponents were Dhananjay and Anahita Talwar. Elena is a very determined net player and doubles is not a format where Marcio can gain anything by playing defensively, so the result was a 6-2 6-1 victory for the top seeds.
A new West Heath tradition seems to have sprung up in the last couple of years, and not just at tournament time, which is that of Anna Ganev bringing a bottle (or two) of gin and a large bottle (or two) of tonic. She then proceeds to serve G&T to those left at the club in the evening on a Saturday or Sunday. There must be few prettier cocktail waitresses after a hot afternoon of sets and matches, and it is a shame she feels obliged to spend half the summer tennis season in Bulgaria with her family! Let her take a lesson from Margaret Murphy who feels no such compunction….