Tournament report – Thursday 19 July

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There were three matches played tonight under good conditions – not too hot!

whdraw2018lesleyjuliaThe first match was a ladies’ singles between Julia Abbott and Lesley South. According to Julia, after the event, Lesley was more savvy and Julia could not counter that. But apparently Julia won the first two points by returning Lesley’s serve straight down the line, for winners, which pleased Julia no end. Apparently Janet O’Connor had done this to her in the first tournament match Julia had played against her. We all know that Lesley has an excellent appreciation of all the possible angles (including those on court), and enabled her to take the match 6-2 6-1.

After the match was over, Lesley and Julia started producing nibbles, also offered to all passers by. At first it looked like a simple set of bread, humus, olives and carrot sticks, but every 5 minutes one or the other exclaimed “Oh, I’ve got some XXXXX as well!!”, typically followed by a visit to the ‘fridge where the chilled rose was waiting, and the appearance of new types of nibbles. Eventually the Joy Welch table was pretty much full.

whdraw2018brucesultandanjosephWhile all the food was going on, a men’s doubles started on centre court between the second father-and-son team of Bruce & Joseph Rigal and the second seeds, Sultan Gangji & Dan Oakley. Joseph played a good match against Tim Simpson the previous night. Dan has been playing for the first team this year – there was a vacancy because Graeme Pearson is no longer in London. The first set had some interested points, but the seeds mainly got the upper hand and took the set 6-0. In the second set Joseph and Bruce stepped up their game, but couldn’t stem the tide. Sultan and Dan won the match 6-0 6-2.

OK, so why is Sultan holding a ball up in the picture? It’s to do with Joseph’s first serve (see the match report from his singles match the previous day). Sultan thinks Joseph would get a much more consistent first serve if he threw the ball up higher. And certainly a few practice serves seemed to indicate that Sultan was right, as Joseph got increased pace and consistency. Hopefully this will continue in the next round of singles. Just to be on the safe side, Sultan decided not to mention this to Joseph until after their doubles battle was over.

whdraw2018eugenephilippePhilippe Mouly applied late to be in the draw and might well have lucked out, but Stan Vasiliev had been asked by his company at short notice to work in Dubai. So Philippe was able to take his place in the draw while Stan sweats in the high 30s heat in Dubai (which apparently has air conditioning on some streets). Anyway, this meant that Philippe had to play Eugene Berlin in the second round, Eugene having already beaten Fred Davidson in the first round, while Philippe received Stan’s bye. They chose court 3, somewhat awa from the limelight. At first it looked as if Philippe was making too many mistakes, and indeed Eugene took the first set 6-1. In the second set Philippe seemed to be winning most of the points, and indeed raced into a 2-0 lead. But Eugene wasn’t finished and put the pressure on to take six games to Philippe’s two, winning the set 6-4 and the match 6-1 6-4.

Tournament report – Wednesday 18 July

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Four matches were played this evening, a relatively cool one as far as recent temperatures go.

In the warm-up singles, David Cohen played Peter Davies. David started somewhat cold and Peter was able to win points easily with a combination of placement and a few drop shots, enabling Peter to take the first set 6-0. However, David got wise to this strategy and, now fully warmed up, following a few errors from Peter in the first game of the second set, David started to read Peter’s tactics and vary his pace and placement also, making sure he didn’t stay too far back when a drop shot was on the cards, and keeping the ball deeper whenever possible. As a result Peter’s play became more tentative, as the easy points were no longer available, and his error rate went up. However, he also dug in and the score reached 4 all. Peter then broke David again, including a switch to playing for cross-court winners, and was able to hold his own serve for a 6-0 6-4 victory. Philip Reid now awaits.

Following the completion of this match three matches started up simultaneously – a men’s single, men’s doubles and a mixed, giving the band of 8 or 9 spectators plenty of entertainment to choose from.

whdraw2018timjosephCourt one hosted the fascinating, and it turned out to be a very close, encounter between Tim Simpson and Joseph Rigal. Although Tim would have won this match easily a few years ago, Joseph now has more experience and much more powerful shots, but is still a little erratic. In the first set most of Joseph’s first serves were faults, enabling Tim to take advantage of the slower second serve. But Joseph hit some very good shots indeed, often passing Tim when he played an approach shot and came in. It was a ding dong exchange of breaks which reached 6-all. The tie-break was similarly tight, but Joseph just edged it 7-5.

In the second set matters proceeded similarly to 3 all, at which, if we had it right, Joseph broke Tim and held for a 5-3 lead. But Tim stepped up a gear and cut out a few errors, to bring the set back to 6 all. This time Tim’s momentum carried him through the close tie break which he also took 7-5.

The third set was played in increasing gloom, but neither player seemed unduly affected. Tim became more agressive and hit down some good serves, but so did Joseph, and there was also a hard-hitting ground-stroke game going on. But towards the end of the set Joseph had just a slight edge, and pipped Tim to the post 6-4 just before the last playable light receded over the horizon, for a 7-67-5 6-75-7 6-4 victory.

2018-07-18 20.19.01On centre court, the Reid father-and-son partnership (Walter and Philip) took on the third seeds Marcio Sugui & Greg Lim. Walter acquitted himself well with most things in reach, and aided and abetted by a few unforced errors from Marcio and Greg. The result was Philip running round the court at high speed trying to hit winners off balls which were not strictly his, managing it some of the time, but by no means all the time. It worked reasonably well in the first set, though the Reids lost it 6-3. The second set was a combination of Philip not being able to keep his poaching-shot error rate low enough and Marcio and Greg getting more savvy about what was going on, enabling the seeds to take the set and the match 6-3 6-0.

2018-07-18 20.38.09On court 3 the 2016 mixed doubles champions, James McKenzie & Lesley South were playing the fourth seeds Cedric de la Chaise and Carine Valarche. Knowing that her sister Margaux was in Australia for 6 months, and thus not available for this year’s tournament, Carine had taken pity on Cedric and volunteered to play with him. James and Lesley hit some good balls, but never had the sort of edge that Cedric rushing round the court gives you. Although Carine maybe was a little rusty to start with, Cedric more than made up for this. However, after a certain point Carine seemed to stop obeying any instructions from Cedric to “leave” and hit these balls too, often enabling Cedric to finish the point on the next but one shot. The net result was a 6-3 6-3 victory to the seeds, Cedric and Carine.

Tournament report – Sunday 15 July through Tuesday 17 July

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Tuesday 17 July
2018-07-17 19.32.45Today was a little cooler then of late, and a couple of matches were played in front of a small band of spectators.

In the Mixed Julia Abbot & Eugene Berlin played Barbara Thomson & Peter Davies. Julia and Eugene started strongly, breaking Barbara twice, reaching 5-2 and threatening to take the first set. However, at this point Barbara started going for it, leading the charge during which the pair broke Julia and proceeded to win five games in a row to take the set. The second set got to 4 all via a couple of service breaks. Peter then held, and Eugene was broken to give Barbara and Peter a 7-5 6-5 victory.

whdraw2018loganjamesCedric and Lajos warmed up the adjacent court for the Men’s Singles match between James McKenzie and Logan Mair. James might like to comment on this. James reports that conditions started favourably for both players on Court 1 with plenty of longish rallies, a few drop shots from James and some lovely net play from Logan. As the sun swung round, the sunny end became increasingly unplayable which somewhat made the game harder. In general, it was Logan’s pure class that ensured he came out on the better side of the 6-3 6-4 scoreline.

Monday 16 July
Despite the temperature reaching a high somewhere in London of over 30 degrees, the match tempo picked up, at least in the Men’s Singles.

Paul O’Flynn was hoping to neuter Walter Reid‘s wide wingspan in their singles encounter. It looks like Paul’s ability to hit with pace coincided with a modicum of placement to give him victory over Walter by 6-1 6-3.

Jasper Tresidder took on James McKenzie. Although Jasper has some strong shots, there’s no doubt than James has more match savvy about him, accumulated over the years, and probably enhanced by having to lead the second team and evaluate players for matches. The match started with two tight deuce/advantage games with break points aplenty for both players. But a match of youth versus experience helped James to keep the scoreboard ticking over, despite some excellent shots from the promising younger player. James won 6-1 6-2.

Fred Davidson entered this year and faced Eugene Berlin in the first round. It looked like a good battle. Eugene took the first set 6-2, but Fred must have warmed himself up during that time, and went on to the attack during the second set, which he won 6-4. Eugene won the last set, but the writing on the draw sheet was not very readable. My guess was 6-1.

Eugene faces Philippe Mouly in the second round. Philippe was a keen last-minute entry and replaced Stan Vasiliev in the draw. Stan has been asked at very short notice to fill in for collegues abroad, nominally for three months, but we will have to see. If you think it is hot here, the temperature during Stan’s first day (Monday) working in Dubai was 38 degrees C.

Sunday 15 July
There was a slow start to the Tournament over the weekend – just a couple of matches played on the Sunday. Whether this was due to the exceptionally hot weather or the alternative pull of the Wimbledon Men’s semi finish plus Ladies’ Singles final on the Saturday, and of the Djokavic vs Anderson final on the Sunday.

It’s a shame there aren’t more in this year’s Ladies’ Single draw. Charles Rubinstein wanted to know why Andra Marinescu was not seeded higher than three. The reason is that she didn’t play in the event last year. Her first opponent in this year’s draw was Soo Teng Lee, and on Sunday Andra proved too strong for Soo Teng, as Charles would have predicted.

There was also a Mixed Doubles match between Elena Valarche & Ed Fitzgerald and Lesley South & James McKenzie. James and Lesley won it 6-2 6-4. Unfortunately (?) we were at Wimbledon (!) so didn’t see the match – but by some accounts it was more gripping than the men’s singles finals. Ed’s serve proved once again to be a shot to be reckoned with, as he managed on numerous occasions to effect a devilish swing in the deuce court which saw it hit the side fence before Lesley’s racket. The first two games were service holds, before Elena was broken and Lesley held her serve. The pattern was repeated and James and Lesley took the first set 6-2. The second set started in much the same way, with the score advancing to 3-1, but soon become 4-4 with a hold by Elena and break of Lesley’s serve. At 4-4 it was nicely poised but unfortunately Ed couldn’t find the angles on serve and was broken, which left James to serve it out from the newly-christened Pavilion End. Duly achieved, James and Lesley progressed to the next round, winning 6-2 6-4. Whilst disappointed, Elena is looking forward to the next round where her daughter, Carine, awaits with Cedric.

Mixed Doubles Final, Wednesday 16 August

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The mixed doubles final is normally scheduled for Thursday of the second week of the tournament, and indeed all the required players were present.  However, Greg Lim was involved in a lengthy men’s singles match against Graeme Pearson which he eventually won 7-6 [8-6] 3-6 6-3.  However, by the time that had finished there were fewer than 30 minutes of daylight left, which ruled out completion of the mixed doubles final that evening.  It was decided to postpone the final until Wednesday 9th August – the next date all players could make..

whdraw17gregmarjanbarbaraanaistimThose who can remember Wednesday 9th August will note that the heavens opened for most of the day, and that the rain was not just drizzle, but downpour for most of that time.  Fortunately the weather forecast identified this some time in advance, and, wisely, the final was moved back a week to Wednesday 16 August.  Lasagna and pizza were promised to draw in the spectators.  The weather this time was fine.

The mixed doubles final was between Greg Lim & Marjan Denis, the second seeds, and Tim Simpson & Anais Reding, the third seeds who beat the champions and top seeds Lesley South & James McKenzie on their way to the final.  Barbara Thomas was the umpire.  The match itself was a bit of a nervy affair, and victory seemed most likely to go to the side who made the fewer mistakes, rather than being decided by outright winners.  Even the ever-consistent Greg was affected, on a couple of occasions .  Tim’s serve is of the “go-for-it” type, likely to beat Marjan and end up embedded half way up the back fence on the occasions when it went in, but it didn’t always.

In the first set Tim was broken in the second game, but he and Anais immediately broke Marjan back.  Then Marjan was broken again at 3 all followed by Greg a couple of games later to give Tim and Anais the first set 6-3.  In the second set Greg and Marjan played more consistently and brought sufficient winners and errors from the opponents to take the set 6-1, paving the way for the champions tie break (first to 10 points).

whdraw17barbaratimanaistrophyAt first Greg and Marjan appeared to have a slight edge in the tie break, but Tim and Anais held their nerve to get even, then zoomed into an 8-5 lead with the help of a couple of errors from the opposition.  At this point Sultan Gangji was giving odds of 4:1 on a victory by Tim and Anais, who immediately managed to lose the next 3 points to bring the champions tie break score to 8 all.  Sultan’s view then was that Greg and Marjan would take it and confidently predicted that the next point would be a match point.  If you think about it, 9-8 in a champions tie break always is match point.  With the curse of the commentator upon them Marjan and Greg lost the last two points to give Tim and Anais victory by 6-3 1-6 [10-8].

Congratulations to both Tim and Anais, for both of whom it is their first West Heath title.  Greg has the well deserved distinction of getting to three finals, unfortunately with nothing to show for it (and is now hoping his friends will buy him drinks to console him).  Marjan has also made 3 finals, winning the ladies’ doubles with Elena Valarche.  Anais is a relative newcomer and acquitted herself well and we hope will stick around next season to defend her title.

Marjan made the lasagna, Greg provided pizza, and Barbara Thomas made summer pudding, which was enjoyed by the two dozen spectators and competitors.  All in all a very enjoyable evening watching an interesting match which had the spectators on the edge of their seats.  And now the tournament really is over.  Enjoy the rest of the season!

Finals Day Tournment Report, Saturday 29 July

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There was some confusion about the start time of both singles finals, and the weather forecast was far from good.  In fact it suggested a huge downpour starting at 2 pm and continuing for at least a couple of hours.

whdraw17finalsdayspectatorsinrain600x360However, both singles finals and a champions tie break to complete a men’s doubles match were played on the hard courts, despite the presence of light drizzle.

Men’s Singles Final

whdraw17cedrickevingreg251x427Greg played solidly throughout, with his flat fast groundstrokes, but the even and slow court bounce somewhat played into the hands of Cedric who has a very good eye, solid topspin strokes and, as he warms to his task, can hit the ball very close to the lines without making too many errors.  And hit good topspin lobs too, when he has to.

Greg played well, but even his lowish error rate was too much compared with that of Cedric who not only put pressure on but also hit accurate winning shots where necessary, such as passing shots if Greg came in, or shots close to the baseline to leave Greg with little time to react and get on balance to make an effective response.  Cedric made errors too, but somehow they almost never added up to the games Greg needed to make an impact.

In the first set Greg got one game.  During the second set the drizzle became a little more pronounced and at one point Greg slipped.  But by this time he was 3 games to love down and gamely carried on but perhaps without risking a further slip by chasing almost hopeless balls.  Cedric lost no games in the second set and won 6-1 6-0 to give us the very satisfying champion’s sequence over the last four years of : Graeme Pearson, Cedric de la Chaise, Graeme, Cedric!

Ladies’ Singles Final

whdraw17elenamarjanbarbara298x399This was umpired by James McKenzie (replaced towards the end by Barbara Thomas so James could finish his men’s doubles semi-final) and took place between Marjan Denis, the reigning champion, and Elena Valarche, the 3rd seed who has unsuccessfully challenged Marjan for at least two of the last four finals (the record for 2015 having gone missing temporarily!)  Marjan had been champion from 2013 through 2016.

Elena was clearly up for it, but it wasn’t the best performance from Marjan, maybe because she was nervous of slipping on the slightly damp porous Macadam.  From a distant vantage point it looked as if Elena came in a lot in the first set, but not in the second.  Elena says this was because it is less of an advantage coming in on a slow hard court where your opponent has much more time to line up for a passing shot.

Elena won the match 6-2 6-2 to give her her second singles title.

Men’s Doubles Semi-Final Champions Tie Break Decider

Due to late play and very poor light earlier in the week the men’s doubles semi-final between Sultan Gangji & Graeme Pearson (reigning champions and top seeds) and the third seeds Greg Lim & James McKenzie had to be halted at one set all – 6-4 5-7 on Wednesday night.  The deciding champions tie break (first to 10 point) was decided on a slippery hard court in front of the enthusiastic but slightly damp set of spectators.

At first it looked like Sultan and Graeme had the upper hand, but towards the end of the breaker James and Greg tightened up their game and were able to put their opponents under pressure, forcing a win 10-7 for a 4-6 7-5 [10-7] victory overall.

Tea, Presentation of Trophies and Relocation

At this point the rain started to get heavier.  Not only would the spectators have got drenched, but there would probably have been a revolution if the players had been asked to play on the now-lethal hard courts.  So everyone retired inside to finish preparing tea.

whdraw17finalsdaytea531x2982017-07-29 15.38.55

whdraw17marjansultanelena400x263whdraw17elenachampion300x533And what a tea it was!  Some expressed an opinion that it was the best Finals Day tea they had ever seen.  Decide for yourself.  Once the kettle had boiled everyone tucked in.  Once hunger and some of the dampness had been dispersed, Sultan Gangji thanked those who had given time to help run the club over the previous 12 months and called on Bill Clark (a member from 30 years ago) to present the prizes to the men’s and ladies’ champions.  Bill commented that very little had changed, including the bar area which he and Sultan had spent some time constructing.

With the hard courts rapidly turning into a duck pond despite their fast-draining powers, Sultan organised a couple of indoor courts at David Lloyd Finchley on which to play the outstanding doubles matches, and 15 people accompanied the finalists.  Play started at 6 pm.

Men’s Doubles Final

whdraw17logancedricgregjames400x355whdraw17gregplusbananas298x529This took place between the second seeds Cedric de la Chaise & Logan Mair and third seeds Greg Lim & James McKenzie who had earlier knocked out the title holders Sultan Gangji and Graeme Peason.  At first it seemed like it might be an easy ride as Cedric and Logan quickly accumulated a 3-0 then 4-1 lead.  But Greg and James dug in and forced various errors from their opponents.  Not only from Logan, but also from Cedric who missed one or two difficult low vollies / half volleys from around the service line.  In particular Greg was commanding the net and any loose shot that Logan played that was in reach got put away.  But after leveling at 5 all, Greg and James could not stop Cedric from winning his service game, and then James struggled with his, eventually conceding the set 7-5 to Cedric and Logan.

In the second set Cedric and Logan again got off to a fast start, only to be pegged back by Greg and James.  For a while it looked like the final might be decided by a champions tie break.  But at 4 all with Logan serving Cedric in particular seemed to be putting the ball closer and closer to the lines to make it more difficult for the opponents.  Logan held his serve and James was under pressure once more, as he had been at the end of the first set.  Three balls from Cedric and Logan seemed to hit the lines in this game making it all but impossible for James to hold, and Cedric and Logan took the title 7-5 6-4.

Ladies’ Doubles Final

whdraw17rosvandanaelenamarjan350x370The second seeds Elena Valarche & Marjan Denis played the top seeds and 2016 champios Ros Norkett & Vandana Talwar indoors at David Lloyd, Finchley.  Three of the four players are members but Elena took a while to get used to the different conditions.  Perhaps as a result Ros and Vandana got off to a flying start and raced into 3-0 and 4-1 leads.  Ros’s strong groundstrokes and Vandana’s net play worked well and proved a tricky combination to for their opponents to break down.  But Elena and Marjan stuck at it, fought back to 5-5 and then took the first set 7-5.

Elena and Marjan made a better start to the second set and, with a break in hand, Marjan served for the match.  At 5-3, 40-30, applause broke out on the adjacent court where the men’s doubles had just finished.  Elena and Marjan won the matchpoint to ensure both matches ended in perfect synchrony so that everyone could hotfoot it back to West Heath where people were already gathering in the rain outside the locked West Heath gate for the BBQ!



Tournament Report, Thursday 27 July

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whdraw17cedricmarcio300x409The weather today was just about good enough to permit the grass to be used for the men’s singles semi-finals.  The scheduled matches also included the mixed doubles final.

On the centre court there was a showdown between the third seed, Marcio Sugui and the second seed Cedric de la Chaise.  Marcio approached the match confident he would be able to break Cedric’s serve on occasions, but not so confident he could hold his own serve.  In the first set the French noises coming from Cedric would have led you to suppose that he was losing heavily.  Certainly Cedric felt his movement was constrained by the moisture on the court.  But the reality was that Cedric’s ability to reach wide  balls and do something aggressive with them made it difficult for Marcio to get as clean a hit with his topspin placed shots as he had against Logan Mair in the quarters.  Marcio was unable to prevent Cedric taking the first set 6-1.

In the second set Marcio was indeed able to break Cedric more than once, but had difficulty holding serve and the net was that Cedric’s powerful shots were still just too strong for him.  Cedric won the match 6-1 6-4.

The second semi-final featured sixth seed Greg Lim against top seed Graeme Pearson and turned into an encounter you just could not take your eyes off.  The consensus seems to be that all the second team men have improved considerably over the last twelve months as a result of regular play.  Greg has been playing two or three times a week over winter on fast and often wet artificial courts and had already disposed of the fourth seed Philip Reid in a tight three-setter so could also be described as match tight.  One summer a few years ago Graeme had been between jobs for a few months leading up to the tournament, had taken the opportunity to play most days and had been on top form during the tournament.  By contrast, Graeme has had a lot happening in his life recently, including a house move, and tennis has very much had to take a back seat, so the tournament came as a welcome chance to enjoy some play.

whdraw17graemegreg300x481Both Greg and Graeme tended to play safe, hitting the ball down the middle of the court from the baseline unless there was a clear opportunity to come in or to hit a winner or the situation required a passing shot.  There is a huge difference in the strokes though.  Greg has a very late take back and a lengthy follow through which is ideally suited to the often erratic bounces on the grass at present.  His strokes are generally very flat and thus fast but predictable (apart from the grass bounce).  By contrast, on the forehand Graeme usually winds up with a huge looped take back in preparation for heavy topspin, and the increased difficulty of adjustments makes the bad bounces more disruptive to his stroke.  He also seemed to use exclusively sliced backhands.

The first set was a very tight affair which went to 6 all.  The tie-break was equally tight, and equally went to 6 all, but Greg managed to take the last two points to win it 8-6.  Graeme was playing more tentatively than usual, taking fewer risks, and often starting rallies with a shorter returned ball then extending the depth.  By contrast Greg was trying to hit closer to the baseline and putting heavy pace on the ball.  In the second set Graeme stepped up his game somewhat and broke early, and at this point it became clear that the mixed doubles final involving Greg was at least likely to be delayed for a third set and at worst delayed to another date.  Although the rest of the set was close, Graeme managed to preserve the break and won the set 6-3 to equalise.  It was then that Greg’s mixed doubles partner, Marjan Denis, gave up and changed out of her tennis outfit!

In the third set Greg stepped up his game, going for the lines more and hitting a little harder, thought Graeme was still a little tentative, spurning the chance to  go for a side line or drop shot winner on occasions.  The bad bounces also left their mark a little as Greg coped slightly better with them.  Greg broke around three games in, and despite Graeme’s efforts he could never break Greg back to rescue matters, leaving Greg to take the match 7-6[8-6] 3-6 6-3.  Thus Greg the giant killer has disposed of the sixth and second seed in his progression to meeting Cedric de la Chaise in the final.

The match finished at 8:15 pm so there was no hope of playing the mixed final.  Graeme said he very much enjoyed the match, despite having lost, and certainly he looks happier in the picture above than Cedric generally does in his photos when he has won!

whdraw17roselenasemifinalOn the face of it Cedric will be the strong favourite for the final.  Greg will be facing someone who does not know the meaning of the word “tentative” and can reach a lot of balls to hit winners that most of the rest of us might give up on.  But there’s no doubt Greg is playing well and confidently, so if Cedric falters it may be another matter.  Despite the weather, we have had some super matches to watch this tournament, and the men’s final will be another fascinating encounter.  Book your seat early by turning up at 2 pm on Saturday to watch it!

While all this was going on, Elena Valarche and Ros Norkett, the third and second seeds, were playing out their ladies’ singles semi-final.  Despite the seeding it appears that Elena had the upper hand and despatched Ros 6-0 6-1.

It now looks as if the mixed doubles final will be played on Wednesday 9 August.

Rachael Gangji prepared the annual delicious fish pie and Lara provided the famous pavlova and cheesecake.  Thanks to the two chefs for a delicious meal.

Tournament Report, Wednesday 26 July

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(Photo suggestion by Susan Grossman.)

The weather was unkind enough to make the grass unplayable, so all matches had to be played on the two hard courts.  A group of determined spectators drew up chairs on the grass courts to view proceedings and nibble the various starters which were handed around.

On the near court was the resumption of the men’s singles quarter final between Logan Mair vs Marcio Sugui.  On Tuesday evening Marcio had just broken Logan to lead 3-2 in the final set (see yesterday’s tournament report) when the grass got too slippery to continue, Logan took a tumble, and the match was halted.  On the resumption Marcio won his own serve to lead 4-2, final set.  Logan put in a determined stint to break back to reach 6 all and force the tie break.  At this point Logan made a couple of mistakes on smashes to give Marcio momentum and Marcio took full advantage to win the breaker 7-1 and the match 6-3 5-7 7-6[7-1].

MixedSemi2[James writes:] Whilst the singles battle was raging, on the other court a mixed doubles semi final was taking place, between Lesley South and James McKenzie, against Tim Simpson and Anais Reding. Tim served first, and held to love. A feat not entirely matched by James who managed to hold, just about, after a series of deuces. The strong play and hard hitting from the Anglo-Belgian alliance proved difficult for the defending champions to deal with, as James’ shouting testified to, and the Alliance won the first set 6-3. Starting off the second set, James again made a meal of holding serve, but managed just about. After a few more games, the match was moved to the vacant court, much to the delight of the crowd. It was difficult to adjust to the brighter court; Lesley remarked that she preferred the gloom of the far court. Alas, the second set followed much the same pattern as the first, with strong play from the Belgo-English pairing. At 5-2 Anais served for the match but could only manage a double fault. Choke. However, undeterred, she mustered full serving and power mode and held serve to seal a deserved 6-3 6-2 victory. If she had served more double faults, one could say that she made a moule out of it… Notwithstanding, they progress to Thursday’s final to face former finalists Marjan and Greg.

There were also two men’s doubles semi-finals.

On the far court James McKenzie and Greg Lim were pitting their wits against Sultan Gangji and Graeme Pearson.  I leave it to James to describe what happened….

[James writes:] This semifinal match was a rerun of last year’s final, although this year the fixture was played on the far hard court. Having won the toss and elected to serve, Greg started emphatically, with a deliberate serve and volley game. A few smashed volleys later and the game was taken. Graeme served from the same end, but he and Sultan were less emphatic, as they gifted Greg and James some break points. However, none were taken, with Graeme and Sultan eventually holding. They turned the screw on James’ service game, to take an early break. Despite opportunities to break back on both Graeme’s and Sultan’s service games later on in the set, the set went the way of the defending champions, winning it 6-4. The second set began after a lengthy break whilst James acquired more lime squash. This didn’t do much for Greg’s now cold shoulders as he started the second set. Quite what the precise order of games was, but Graeme and Sultan found themselves 4-1 up with Graeme serving. Always a keen observer, Sultan sensed from Greg’s and James’ body language that the set was up. However, five points later, Graeme’s serve was ‘broken to 15’. James served, and held to take the score at the change of ends to 4-3. And so began Sultan’s Game of Twenty Deuces. Back and forth went the momentum, pendulously, as neither pairing could secure two points in a row. The Enormity of the Game was lost on nobody, with all four players choking just a little bit. But in the end, it was Greg and James who prevailed to level the score on the proverbial board. Greg served, and held, in perfunctory fashion to take a 5-4 lead and win 4 in a row. Graeme stopped the rot for the defending champions to level it at 5-5. James managed the same, to leave Sultan serving to stay in the set. Two set points materialised for Greg and James, with the first going begging in the encroaching gloom. The next point, at 30-40 was a long rally with all four players in at the net. Dinky placement volleys were very much in vogue; James pushed one down Graeme’s line who, at full-ish stretch returned it gamely enough; thankfully it was pushed into the Sultan/Graeme mini-chasm and the set was taken 7-5. With the score at 6-4 5-7, the match was suspended. The deciding match tiebreak will be played on Saturday.

whdraw17logancedrictimmarcio393x297Following on from adopting a psychological plan in the 2016 tournament to win a difficult singles match against a top seed, Tim Simpson was working on a new approach to his men’s double match with Marcio Sugui against Logan Mair and Cedric de la Chaise (at least according to James’ post).  The plan was not spectacularly successful in the first set, which Tim and Marcio lost 6-0, but came into its own in the second set which was more fiercely contested.  But one difference between the pairs in the second set was the quality of the lobs from Logan and Cedric and the final result was that Cedric and Logan won 6-0 6-4.

whdraw17marjanbarbarajaneelena318x243The court was then taken over by the ladies’ doubles match of Barbara Thomas and Jane Boyle vs Marjan Denis and Elena Valarche, the match resuming at 6-3 3 all after stopping for dew and bad light late on Tuesday evening.  On the resumption, Barbara and Jane played well to break and hold twice to give them the second set 6-3.  In the increasing gloom it looked like the champions tie break in lieu of a final set would go to those who had always eaten their carrots.  Elena and Marjan seemed to develop early momentum as Jane and Barbara made a few mistakes and took the tier break 10-5 for a 6-3 4-6 [10-5] victory.

whdraw17moiramenuthursday296x413Moira Duncan provided a delicious lamb tagine and cous-cous with sufficient for the inevitable second helping from perhaps most people.  Barbara Thomas provided summer pudding and toblerone-based Tia Maria-laced semifreddo which went down rather well too.  The usual suspects had a good dance towards the end of the evening (see “It’s Raining Men“), and a group around the table looked set to make it a late-night session when we left just after 11 pm……


In addition to the summer puddings and semifreddi, Bruna (of Bruna and Marcio fame) provided an exceptional, and exquisitely decorated, chocolate cake. It went down a storm, and we hope to see more of Bruna – perhaps when Marcio plays Cedric in the semi final on Thursday! Or perhaps on The Great British Bake Off.


2017-07-26 21.55.22

Tournament Report, Sunday 23 July

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whdraw17sootengros327x480The weather forecast for today looked distinctly bleak, with various Android forecasting apps predicting two hours of heavy rain, but each app predicting it at different times in the afternoon.  The best plan seemed to be for everyone to turn up and see what could be played.  In the event it turned into a lovely sunny afternoon and all the scheduled matches got played.  Porous macadam (for the faint hearted) and grass courts 1 and 3 were used.  Though the muddy patches on the baselines of court 1 could have been a problem there were no reports of anyone slipping.

In the ladies’ singles Soo Teng Lee played Ros Norkett.  Soo Teng has a good heavy serve when it went in, but Ros can produce strong groundstrokes and effective volleys when she gets a clean hit at the ball.  In the end Ros was too strong for Soo Teng.  One sequence in which Ros came out on top more than once was when Ros hit a high deep ball to Soo Teng, who returned it high and a little short, enabling Ros to hit a strong groundstroke return out of Soo Teng’s reach for a winner.  Ros won the match 6-1 6-2.whdraw17stanpauljamesgreg380x314

In the first men’s doubles match Stan Vasilyev & Paul O’Flynn played James McKenzie & Greg Lim.  James and Greg won 6-1 6-4.  James has promised to give details of the way the match went.  You are left to guess whose racket actually suffered at the end of the match, but it shouldn’t be difficult if you know the characters concerned.

Having decided that the grass court was a little to soggy for play, Greg, James and Stan decamped onto a hard court. Paul arrived eventually, but realised that he couldn’t play on the hard court in his sandals, so hot-footed it back to his car for his hard court shoes. He and Stan won the toss and elected to serve, with Stan getting us under way. The first four games went to Greg and James as Stan and Paul found their respective un-be-sandalled feet. Words were certainly exchanged between them; no doubt at least some of them were tactical, whilst others may have been related to the use of some of the fruitier vocabulary exhaled during the set. Perhaps such words worked, as Stan and Paul won the 5th game. Alas, it was their last in the set, as the third seeds won the set 6-1. Further ‘discussions’ ensued between chalk-and-cheese temperaments of Paul and Stan, which enabled them to break James in the first game of the second set. Breaks were traded, with the scoreboard creaking towards 4-4. With James serving, he found himself in a mini-0-30-shaped hole. But thanks to a couple of rare first serves and crucial interceptions from Greg, the hole became a hold. Stan served to stay in the match, but a few too many errors saw the game, and the match, taken. The final result was 6-1 6-4. Following handshakes and smiles at the net, Stan decided to do what has come so naturally before. Having apparently played much of the set with a cracked frame in his racquet, he well and truly finished it off (as shown in the photo). Had the match been played on the grass courts, he might have be facing a Heather Watson-sized fine; no doubt the tournament referees will be in touch…

whdraw17sultangraemephiippeeugene375x297In a second men’s doubles match, Philippe Mouly & Eugene Belin took on the top seeds Graeme Pearson & Sultan Gangji.   Apparently Philippe held his serve in the first set and hit some good passing shots, but it was not enough to stop the top seeds taking it 6-2.  In the second set Graeme and Sultan turned up the pressure and won it in straight games 6-0.

In one mixed doubles Stan Vasilyev & Anna Ganev played the second seeds Greg Lim & Marjan Denis.  It was not an easy matcwhdraw17stanannagregmarjan347x325h for the seeds who won 6-4 6-3.

Another mixed doubles match, providing the entertainment for the evening, involved the mother and son team Vandana & Dhananjay Talwar playing the champions James McKenzie & Lesley South.  It was clear that Vandana’s whdraw17dhananjayvandanalesleyjames360x329serve has improved considerably over the last year though she though she could have served better and her net play looked sharp.  Dhananjay looked a little out of practice though he has good movement, a long reach and a good serve.  Lesley hit consistently everything within reach and found some of her trademark winning angles.  There was a lot of good court coverage from James, though on one occasion he also ran to a ball that Lesley had covered and the opponents hit the ball into the space for a winner.  On balance Lesley and James were just a little too consistent for the Talwars and the champions took the match 6-4 6-3.

whdraw17peterbarbarasultanros350x218In yet another mixed doubles match Barbara Thomas & Peter Davies faced the fourth seeds Ros Norkett & Sultan Gangji.  The word on the street was that Sultan had turned his ankle a few days earlier in Thursday’s men’s match against the Cumberland and would only be hobbling around court.  Not to mention the post-match early-morning drinking session in Greg Lim’s flat from which Sultan had to walk home.  Although Barbara and Peter had been relying on Sultan doing less moving than normal, once the match started it became clear that he was as mobile as he ever has been, so they had to come up with a plan B in a hurry.

The first set was desperately tight.  Given a clean hit Ros can hit you off the court and her serves are hard and well place.  Sultan’s anticipation and placement are usually legendary and he made some great interceptions.  Barbara hit some great shots, Peter served well and both challengers showed good court coverage.  They adopted a strategy of giving Ros as few clean hits as possible and ensuring Sultan was given as little indication as possible of where serves were going.  The first set was desperately tight with breaks and break backs, and led to a tie break at 6 all.  A couple of poor points at the start of the tie break from Sultan and Ros gave momentum to their opponents who raced into a 5-1 lead, ultimately taking it 7-4.  At the start of the second set Sultan and Ros switched sides to give Peter something to think about on his serve.  Sultan and Ros broke but were in turn broken back as the score reached 4 all.  Then Sultan lost his serve to leave Peter serving for the match, but he and Barbara then lost the next three points.  A whdraw17sootengannalesleymoira330x250mistake from the opponents and a couple of good serves brought the first of a few deuces and the match was finally settled when Sultan put the ball a couple of  inches out on match point for a surprise 7-57-4 6-4 victory to Barbara and Peter.  It was a match of tight margins in which you could not afford to switch off for even a second.

In the ladies’ doubles Anna Ganev & Soo Teng Lee played the fourth seeds Moira Duncan & Lesley South.  Although Anna and Soo Teng returned most balls and hit some good shots the better placement and consistency of the seeds eventually led them to a 6-0 6-1 victory.

In the men’s singles Leo Colle played the top seed and champion Graeme Pearson.  Although Leo seemed to be hitting some good shots Graeme was just too strong and won 6-1 6-1.

Thanks to the lucky weather today, the draw is more or less at the stage it should be and we look forward to the remaining rounds in the second week and the Gourmet Dinners Monday through Thursday with great anticipation. Most days are now full, but check the menus here and phone Sultan if you fancy your chances as there is always the occasional drop out.

Tournament Report, Saturday 22 July

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The weather forecast was clearly inauspicious, and a number of matches were hastily re-arranged to be played earlier.  Some of the matches reported may have been played on Friday night.

Sally Tornow & Sue Latimer played the third seeds, Jane Boyle & Barbara Thomas, in the ladies’ doubles.  It looks like Jane’s lefty slice and cunning combined with Barbara’s aggression paid dividends as the seeds won 6-1 6-2.

There were a number of men’s singles matches played.

Ben Torns kicked off his first service game against Cedric de la Chaise with an ace, but can’t yet live with Cedric’s pace and placement.  Cedric thought Ben had good shots but should stop relying on his father for shot selection tips.  The match was a 6-0 6-0 victory to Cedric.

Ed Fitzgerald played Philip Reid, the fourth seed, in the men’s singles.  From the score it looks like a good ding-dong battle.  Ed took the first set 6-3, Philip equalised with a 6-2, and with the momentum going his way Philip took the final set 6-2 for a 3-6 6-2 6-2 victory.

Dudley Leigh put in an infrequent appearance at the club to play against Greg Lim, the sixth seed.  Greg thought Dudley might have been lacking in grass court practice, though Dudley did appear a few weekends ago to play a single set of men’s doubles during social tennis.  Apparently the match was played in a good spirit and Greg won it 6-2 6-1.

Lajos Szucs had to play the eighth seed Tim Simpson.  In his match against Peter Davies Lajos seemed to be able to put the ball on a sixpence and generally nothing on a grass court phased him.  Apparently the same was true of the match against Tim and, as a result, it looks like Lajos will be joining the seeded players next year.  Lajos won 6-3 6-1.

whdraw17rachelelena240x328Probably the final match played on Saturday was Rachel Savin against Elena Valarche, the third seed in the ladies’ singles.  Apparently Elena can’t help herself and just has to come in on every shot.  Rachel kept hitting the ball ball down the centre of the court, possibly a recent of a weakness in her right leg which had been injured earlier on in the season.  She feels she cannot push off against it properly to change the direction of hit.  Clearly this played to Elena’s strength and Elena won the first set 6-3.  The second set went a similar way except that it started raining shortly before the score reached 5-3 to Elena, and the pair retired at this score.  Since a resumption looked unlikely Rachel graciously conceded the match.  Hopefully they will schedule a tight return match some time soon when Rachel is fully fit.

Keep your fingers crossed for the weather tomorrow as there are quite a few matches scheduled.


Tournament Report, Thursday 20 July

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Two matches were played this evening.

David Cohen played Paul O’Flynn.  It looks like David struggled in the first set against Paul’s approach of hitting the ball as hard as he can, and Paul took the first set 6-0.  In the second either David got his eye in, or Paul made more errors, and David got a couple of games.  Paul won 6-0 6-2.

whdraw17peterbarbarasootengeugen314x305Eugene Belin & Soo Teng Lee played Barbara Thomas & Peter Davies.  In the first set Barbara and Peter broke Eugene and leapt into a 3-0 lead, but Eugene and Soo Teng got their eye in and pegged them back to 4 all, with a combination of Eugene’s winning ground strokes and some good serving by Soo Teng, including acing Peter.  Barbara and Peter modified the tactics to avoid playing to Eugene’s strengths.  As a result Barbara held serve and Eugene was broken in a marathon service game to give Barbara and Peter the first set 6-4.  In the second set the same tactics continued to give results for Barbara and Peter who won it 6-1 for a 6-4 6-1 victory.