On Friday the weather forecast for Finals Day was looking pretty dire. However, the Metweather forecast improved by Saturday morning and showed very little rain after 2 pm. Fortunately it was more or less correct. Although no play was possible on the somewhat squelchy grass courts, the rain stopped by 2 pm. The hard courts were a little damp, but were soon playable. Many of the spectators wore woollies or outdoor jackets, as it was a little nippy, particularly compared to some of the record temperatures experienced recently.
A few cute babies have recently made an appearance at West Heath. But James McKenzie refused to hold his three month old son in the umpire’s chair during Thursday’s mixed final, leaving him to entertain members of the crowd. Archie and Charlie Tapper are 15 months and put in an appearance on the grass during the finals, taking great delight in throwing tennis balls for others to fetch, though it will be a while before they can return balls over the netting or hit the ball over it. Nowadays you have to start training team players early, and these two are progressing fast.
Before the ladies’ doubles final could be played, there was the little matter of the resumption of the semi final at the top of the draw. After some uncertainty in securing a partner willing and able to play in the second week, Lesley South teamed up with Emily, back from recent extensive travels, to take on the top seeds Marjan Denis and Sue Ehr. The first installment of the match took place on Friday evening, and reached 4-0 to Marjan and Sue before it was interrupted by rain. The resumption followed on from the ladies’ singles final on hard court 2, and resulted in a 6-1 6-0 victory for Marjan and Sue.
Men’s singles final
The men’s singles final took place between the top two seeds, Marcio Sugui and Cedric de la Chaise, the 2018 champion, umpired by Kevin Ryan. Marcio has a big swing serve which is particularly effective on grass, and the enforced move to the hard courts reduced his chances considerably. Cedric was not playing that well at the start of the second week, but his game has improved steadily since then and the hard court surface plays to his strengths.
Marcio struggled to make an impression on Cedric. Even when under pressure from good shots from Marcio, he was typically able to manufacture a shot landing a foot or less inside the corner of the court for a winner beyond the reach of Marcio. Beyond that, Cedric made very few mistakes, and won the match 6-0 6-1. Clearly he timed himself to peak exactly right.
Ladies’ single final
It was a shame that Mihika Joshi had to withdraw from her semi-final match with the top seed and title holder Andra Marinescu. However, Andra still had to beat the second seed, Marjan Denis in the final to retain the title. The umpire was Greg Lim.
It was clear at the start of this match that Marjan was a little nervous of accelerating too fast on the court surface while it was potentially still slippery. As the match progressed the court dried and Marjan was happy to run for everything. However, with her usual topspin power games, Andra was still able to hit balls out of reach. Let’s just say that, since first entering the singles in 2018, Andra hasn’t yet dropped a game, and the result in the final didn’t change that.
Men’s doubles final
For a change, this was contested between the third and fourth seeds, Stephen Cooke and Tom Tapper and Greg Lim and Tim Simpson respectively, and umpired by Ed Fitzgerald. It was expected to be a tight match, and indeed it so proved. Greg has particularly pacy shots on a hard court where the consistent bounce allows him to line up the shot. Tim is particularly strong on the volley, including both serve and volley and crossing to intercept. Meanwhile, at least based on this match, Stephen and Tom seem to have a good general all-round game with a low error rate. The switch in surface favoured them.
There were both breaks and break backs in both sets. In the first, the set reached 5 all before Tim was broken and Tom held to win the set 7-5. The second set reached 6 all, requiring a set tie break. Here the higher consistency of Stephen and Tom enabled them to win the tie break 7-3 for a 7-5 7-67-3 victory.
Ladies’ doubles final
The 2019 final was played between two pairs which included one leftie each. Jane Boyle(leftie) and Barbara Thomas were the second seeds, up against Marjan Denis and Sue Ehr (leftie), the top seeds. Marjan and Sue Ehr were well warmed up from the previous, contiguous semi-final match against Lesley South and Emily, and, the grass courts being unplayable, there was no spare court to allow Jane and Barbara to warm up beforehand, so there was an extended knock up. Sue can sometimes get nervous, but in this match she showed no signs of it. Marjan and Sue broke more than once to take the first set 6-2, and then romped away with the second set 6-1 for a 6-2 6-1 victory.
Finals day tea, prize giving and evening barbecue
After the mens’ doubles final, the grand finals day tea was declared open.
In the absence of any celebrities this year, Sultan Gangji presented the trophies himself, one of which had to be polished first.
Here are the winners (on the left) and the runners up (on the right)
The evening barbecue was enjoyed by everyone attending.
Many thanks to all those helping with the running of the tournament (Sultan and Marjan), the Gourmet dinners (Julia, Jill, Lesley, Moira, Marjan, Rachael, Lara), and all the players who have provided such great entertainment during the tournament.
This was my twentieth set of tournament reports, having put together the web site in plenty of time for the 2000 tournament. A few years ago James McKenzie converted it to WordPress, to allow non-technical people to post articles, which has reduced the time required to make posts. I look forward to entertaining you all, or at least informing you all, again next year.
All the original photos used in the tournament reports, and many more that weren’t, can be found in this link. The cropped photos actually used have a prefix “whdraw19..”.