The evening was fine, and all five scheduled matches were completed.
Lesley South prepared a tasty selection of Thai curries, and there were plenty of takers for seconds. She also provided meringue and sorbet for dessert. Seconds here were more of a challenge as I was not the only person to experience losing my dessert bowl. I put it down for a microsecond while Sultan insisted on a salacious photo, and having it whisked away smoothly and unnoticeably by someone clearing up!
The first show court match was a quarter-final match between the seventh seed Philip Reid and the title holder Graeme Pearson. Both seemed to specialise in good-length topspin drives, and both achieved good court coverage in retrieving the others drives. But the snag with this from Philip’s viewpoint is that Graeme’s error rate was lower than his, and Graeme’s accuracy slightly better, so the approach favoured a victory by Graeme. It is difficult to be sure, but on the odd point or two where Philip hit a drop shot to the opposite side from where Graeme had just hit a drive, he stood a better chance of winning the point. Graeme may have been able to counter such a strategy, but this may have opened up otehr opportunities to Philip. And lastly, Graeme may have had plenty up his sleeve and been very happy to practise topspin drives for an hour. The net result was a 6-3 6-1 victory to Graeme.
Alongside this match we had the two ladies doubles semi-finals. On number 1 court Julia Abbot and Sally Tornow played the first seeds Elena Valarche and Marjan Denis. Although Julia and Sally hit a number of good shots, the title holders were too strong for them and won 6-0 6-1.
In the ladies semi-final on court 3 Moira Duncan and Lesley South took on the partnership of the Valarche sisters, Carine and Margaux of ages 18 and 16 respectively. Both have had group coaching for a number of years so have consistent, mainly technically good strokes, and Margaux in particular has extremely good mobility around the court. Further, Lesley had used up virtually all the energy in her legs the previous evening playing doubles then singles against Elena Valarche, not to mention the mental energy required to plan and cook the evening’s Gourmet Dinner. All of which did not bode well for the more mature couple. And so it proved as the score was the same 6-0 6-1 as in the other semi-final.
The second of the mixed doubles semi-finals involved the second seeds Margaux Valarche and Cedric de la Chaise versus Jane Boyle and Greg Lim. Although Jane and Greg played well, the superior shot-making and mobility of Margaux and Cedric were key. The challengers got two games in each set for a 6-2 6-2 victory for Cedric and Margaux.
In the show court men’s doubles quarter final, Tim Simpson and Oleg Khomenko (pronounced something like “Alec” as Elena Valarche insisted on telling us every time we said it) were attempting to upset the second seeds Sultan Gangji and Graeme Pearson. It appeared that Sultan was not having a good match, and Oleg also started slowly, whereas Tim seemed to be playing out of his skin while Graeme was steady. The tight first set was won 6-4 by Sultan and Graeme, though this was a bit of a shock to specators who had not been following the score closely. In the second set Oleg’s level improved quite a bit, which made it an even tighter affair than the first set. The challengers service games were always under threat but they managed to hold until 5 all, when a break handed Sultan and Graeme the match 6-4 7-5.