Tournament Report, Tuesday 25th July

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In contrast to the night before, it felt like a different country on Tuesday evening at West Heath. The sun was shining and it could almost have been described as ‘warm’.

whdraw17gregmarjanbarbarapeter280x373Getting the action started was a mixed doubles semi final, between second seeds Marjan Denis and Greg Lim and seed-slayers Barbara Thomas and Peter Davies. Could the unseeded challengers continue their progress through the draw, or would they come unstuck?

[Report from Peter.]  Marjan and Greg both played very well and made few unforced errors.  Marjan hit one or two beautiful low volleys.  Their strategy was to target Barbara as much as possible and although Barbara hit her groundstrokes and volleys well she could not get past the two seeds and was feeling the pressure.  She said she could have been more aggressive and taken the game more to the seeds.  Peter generally served well and ran for everything, but the seeds were generally too strong.  The challengers’ only games came from Peter’s serving and breaking Greg’s serve during a lapse in his concentration.  Marjan and Greg won 6-2 6-1.  They were finalists last year, and will be this year too.  My money is on them to win this year, at least if they can play as they did during this match.

whdraw17cedriclajos300x269On the adjacent court, the second seed Cedric de la Chaise was taking on new West Heathen Lajos Szucs. Whilst little of the match was observed, it seemed that Lajos’ touch was a little off (Susanna said as much), whilst Cedric was returning shots that would otherwise have been winners. Cedric advances to the semi final, with a score of 6-2 6-0, to face either Marcio or Logan, who were due on court afterwards.  One day Peter will get a picture of Cedric smiling!

whdraw17rosvandanalesleymoiraOver on the far court, a ladies’ doubles semi final was taking place. Lucky shoes/pants/shirts or not, Lesley South and Moira Duncan took the first set off the defending champions Ros Norkett and Vandana Talwar, to win it 7-5. Whilst the ‘heat rule’ was not in place, a 10-minute break was taken nonetheless to tend to the Gourmet dinner (the lesser known ‘can’t stand the heat rule’). What Ros and Vandana did in the interval is anyone’s guess, but they rallied in the second to win it 6-2. The match tiebreak went with the all-important momentum, with the first seeds winning 5-7 6-2 [10-4].

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whdraw17jamesstretching260x289Back on court 1, Graeme Pearson had changed out of his work clothes for his match with James McKenzie. With the sun shining down on court 1, the non-Clubhouse end was a bit of an evolving lottery throughout the match. As the sun swung further round, various parts of the court became more treacherous, whilst others became positively hospitable. The first game was a nervy affair, with James regretting having elected to serve, which whdraw17graemejames290x358duly went to the first seed. Alas, it wasn’t all bad, as the score was pegged back to 3-3. Graeme’s tried and tested strategy is typically to get every ball back, which is highly infuriating. However, with the slippy courts a few points were hoovered up by James and his shorter balls. Nevertheless, Graeme continued to win the first set 6-3. At this point the court was becoming exceedingly slippy, with James dancing around like Bambi at times (another Zinger from Moira™). Graeme’s shoes seemed better suited to the task. The second got underway, much like all sets do, with some serving, returning and rallies. Somehow James found himself 3-1 ahead, with break points to go 4-1 ahead. Alas Graeme showed his true mettle to hold, and pegged the score back (familiar story) to 4-4. The next few games went with serve to 6-5, with James having to serve to stay in the match. Clearly the pressure got to James, as Graeme ‘broke to 15’ to take the match 6-3 7-5.

Logan Mair played Marcio Sugui.  [Report from Peter.] For a change Logan had to serve and play as if he meant it, abandoning his normal laid-back style.  Marcio took full advantage of having brilliant topspin strokes.  These have the advantage he can put the ball near to the sidelines closer to the net.  Where possible he used this to manoeuver Logan about the court until there was a chance to hit a winner into the open court.  Marcio took the first set 6-3.  The second set saw Logan stepping up a gear to put more pressure on Marcio, thumping down first serves, though Marcio’s game plan was still in effect.  All of this cancelled each other out and the score reached 6 all to force a tie break.  Again, this was pretty even, but Logan just got the upper hand at the end to win it 7-5 to even up the match.

The light was starting to fade, but the match was only suspended when Logan slipped on the dewy grass and they gave up at 3-2 to Marcio.  The match was due for completion Wednesday morning.

And in the ladies doubles, Elena Valarche and Marjan Denis took on Jane Boyle and Barbara Thomas. This match was also suspended due to poor light and a slippy court and is due for completion Wednesday evening.

In charge of the food tonight was Lesley, who served up a range of Persian cuisine. Truly a night for the epicureans among us, it was lapped up by all. Many of us learnt some new words, but there was still a mystery around what kuku actually is…

Stan Battles Toughest Opponent Yet

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Stan chair

Whilst a gargantuan battle was raging on the adjacent hard court, Stan, the club’s very own Marcos Baghdatis, was engaging in a battle of wits with a rather stubborn chair.

However, I am pleased to report that where the rest of the club members had failed, Stan persevered and eventually managed to contort the chair into its intended position. Bravo!

Many thanks to Jane for capturing the moment for posterity.

Tournament Report, Monday 24th July

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The wet weather during the weekend and during the day prevented tonight’s matches being on the grass. The first match to get going was the first of the men’s quarter finals. Fourth seed Philip Reid took on sixth seed Gregory Lim. The first set went to Greg 6-3, with the reporter having missed all of the action. Cue instant summary: it must have been a close one, with either one or two breaks of serve.

The score in the second set ticked over with regularity, not even disturbed by Logan taking the door off the hinges on the hard courts. Singularly failing to return it to its swinging state, he just leant it against the fence. Elena squeezed through later, by pivoting the door on its bottom. Serving at 5-3 Philip missed a set point and double faulted at deuce. First serve missed and a dolly second serve lead to a duff point to concede the break. Greg served at 4-5 to stay in the set. An easy hold, 5-5. Philip steps over a ball, 15-15, but continues nonchalantly. He continues and wins the game to stop the rot and edges 6-5 ahead. Greg serves and falls to 15-40. He brings it back to deuce with tentative play from Philip. Greg hits the deuce ball out wide, has it returned by Reid and belts it back with a scowl. Philip hits a high ball on set point and comes in for a dolly volley, which Greg can only scrape into the net. Philip wins the second set 7-5 to take it to a decider.

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The final set report was disrupted by a high level committee meeting (see photo), but Greg took an early break. This was pegged back in a bit of a slug fest as tempers frayed and nerves became taut (perhaps). Plenty of solid shots, long rallies and disapproving glances towards the spectators later, Greg took the final set, and the match, 6-4. It was a hard fought match, which provided excellent viewing for the appreciative spectators.

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Panorama

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As the match finished, Tim choked hard during his mixed doubles with Anais, as they took on Logan and Elena. The first set went semi comfortably to Tim and Anais. The second set inched towards a tiebreak, probably a few breaks exchanged (Tim’s serve?) and the match found itself in a second set tiebreak. To and fro it went, but taken by the jubilant Scottish/Russian coalition.

A 10-point match tie break followed with some solid volleys, ground strokes and smashes from all. At three all, with Anais serving, it seemed like the nerves got the better of the West Heath debutante. To and fro yet again up until 7-8 on Logan’s serve. 8-8 and Logan did a bit of choking of his own. Tim had a chance for glory to serve for a place in the semi, and duly delivering he sealed the deal to win 6-2 6-7 [10-8]. In a post match analysis, Tim attributed Greg and Philip finishing their match for a slight wobble, but professed himself “very pleased to have overcome a near choking”.

 

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The evening’s post-tennis entertainment was provided by Ros, with a guest performance as pudding chef by Jill. Ros served up spring rolls, peri peri chicken wings and pork ribs for starter. This was followed by delicious Teriyaki chicken, rice and bok choi, alongside, a tasty stew of butterbeans, chickpeas and butternut squashes. Jill’s pudding was a much-feted creme caramel with fruit salad. Many thanks to our first Gourmet Chefs of the year!

 

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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.

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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, Friday 21 July

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The 3rd seed and last year’s finalist Marcio Sugui took on club perennial stalwart Paul O’Flynn. Marcio is known the world over for his consistency (and for being a great left hander) so Paul was always facing an up hill battle. What little of the match was observed, it appeared that Marcio’s ability to get the ball back was Paul’s undoing as some of his commanding court positions were scuppered by the other West Heath stalwart, the bounce. Frustration played over Paul’s face as good opportunities to ‘seal the deal’ fell by the wayside. The 6-3 6-1 score line is possibly a little unfair, but Marcio just has a knack of doing that to people. He progresses to face either Tim Simpson (8th seed) or Lajos Szucs in the quarter finals.

The seventh seed and recent West Heath re-joiner Tim Allan took on James McKenzie on the furthest grass court. Starting at approx 6.15pm, the match went the full distance and completed some time around 8.40pm. The first set saw James rush to a three game lead, which he just about managed to keep to take the first set 6-3. There were some exceptionally nice rallies as both players adjusted to the game and style of the other. But Tim’s undoing in the first set was his serve which faulted at key points in the set. In the second set many of Tim’s service problems disappeared and he took the crucial break to go 5-3 ahead. James somehow pulled it back to 5-5 but Tim rallied to hold serve and then break to avoid the tiebreak, winning the second set 7-5. The third set was neck-and-neck until 3-3, with both players returning better than they were serving. James pounced in the (vital) seventh game to break, and pushed through to take the set, recording a 6-3 5-7 6-3 win. The match was played in exceedingly good spirits, with credit given were credit was due.

Perhaps the most anticipated showdown was between Simpson/Sugui and Reid/Reid, which promised to be a cracker. Reid Junior was heard exhorting Reid Senior to the net on multiple occasions, with youthful petulance boiling over (at least) once resulting in a racket thrown into the net in apparent disgust (although the author is unsure if the two things are connected). Anyway, the score was a relatively comfortable one for the 4th seeds. However, the final word must go to Walter and his blaze of glory; a long rally with plenty of volleys, eventually pushed Walter back towards the rear corner of the court. Some not inconsiderable flexibility allowed him to scoop a seemingly unreturnable shot from somewhere near his feet, over Marcio’s head, into the opposite corner. Not even Marcio’s famous hotdog could cut the mustard. Easily the shot of the evening, if not the tournament. Despite Reid Senior’s heroics, he and his son could not overcome Tim and Marcio who progress into the semi finals with a 6-2 6-3 victory.

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.

Tournament Report, Monday 17 July

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Three men’s singles matches along with one men’s doubles were played today.

In the men’s doubles match Geoff Isaacs & Gideon Stone took on Walter & Philip Reid.  Geoff is a generally accurate and strong player but Gideon’s play is unknown, at least to me.  Walter is defensively solid with a wide wing span.  His son, Philip can hit the ball rather harder.  Apparently the tactic of Geoff and Gideon was to keep the ball away from Philip as much as possible, but, according to Philip, they were caught off guard by Walter’s consistent play, volleying and occasional strategic slice backhand lobs.  The Reids won 6-2 6-1 and now face the fourth seeds Marcio Sugui & Tim Simpson.

There had been various rumours floating around that my co-webmaster James McKenzie was injured, was saving himself for doubles matches scheduled later, and would withdraw from the singles.  This was despite the fact the match between him and Alberto Zanatta had been clearly marked on the draw sheet as scheduled for the evening of Monday 17th almost ever since the draw went up.  Imagine everyone’s surprise then when James not only turned up to play the match, but also won it 6-1 6-0.  James might like to contribute some words on how it went……

In homage to Huckleberry Finn’s creator, I can avow that reports of my injury were greatly exaggerated. Admittedly I was fearful of a torn leg muscle, but three days of solid rest was enough to ensure that my limb had limbered up sufficiently. Alberto and I had a lovely match, with plenty of long rallies, occasional ventures to the net and a few cheeky drop shots. As many of the games went to multiple deuces, the score makes it look more comfortable that it was.

Whilst James and Alberto were playing on the first grass court, Logan Mair and Stan Vasiliev were playing their singles match on the middle court. Whilst this was initially billed as a total slug fest between two of the hardest hitters on the West Heath circuit, such a tour de brute force only appeared for the first few games. Logan’s wisdom eventually realised that he was not capable of outhitting Stan the Man, so adopted a more consistent, and less pacy, style. Clearly the strategy worked, and it seems that Stan’s fast-paced game was undone by having to generate all of his own power. Logan came through to win 6-2 6-2.

In action before all these matches was the contest between Matt Wasser and Leo Colle. Taking place on the third grass court, Leo triumphed 6-1 6-1 in a surprisingly long fixture. Leo progresses to play the defending champion in the round of 16.

The men’s singles draw is the largest and is progressing well, with all but two first round matches played, with one of these scheduled for the today (Tuesday).

Tournament Report, Sunday 16 July

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There was no rain today, so the scheduled matches went ahead smoothly.

Rather surprisingly, Anais Reding beat Lesley South 6-0 6-1.

The eighth seed, Tim Simpson, beat Walter Reid 6-2 6-2.

Ed Fitzgerald beat Eugen Belin 6-1 6-1, and faces the fourth seed, Philip Reid next.

whdraw2017loganelenamoiralajos400x299The late evening’s entertainment consisted of a mixed doubles between Elena Valarche & Logan Mair, and Moira Duncan & Lajos Szucs.  Lajos apparently had not played mixed before.  The game was played in a spirit of fun rather then being deadly serious, and there were some entertaining rallies.  Lajos and Logan intercepted as much as they could, Elena hit some great volleys, and Moira played some exceptional cross-court service returns.  Elena and Logan just had the slight edge and took the match 6-4 6-3.