The lines were freshly painted. The umpire’s chairs were out and the umpires arms had been twisted. The sandwiches and cakes for tea had all been made. All that remained was to watch the on-court entertainment provided.
Men’s Singles Final
In the 2015 final Graeme Pearson was beaten by Cedric de la Chaise for the first time in four years, achieving a clean sweep of men’s titles, but Cedric did not play in this year’s tournament. So Graeme was the top seed this year. In the bottom half of the draw Marcio Sugui, the 4th seed emerged after beating Philip Reid who, in turn, knocked out the second seed Logan Mair. The match was umpired by Kevin Ryan after a break of a few years.
In the first set Marcio was caught a little cold by Graeme. Marcio’s topspin forehands were not going in consistently, and these and his leftie spin serve are his major weapons. Graeme was able to play pretty safely and did not need to take chances – the points kept rolling in. It could have been a bagel (6-0), but Marcio stopped the rot to claim his only game, giving the set to Graeme 6-1.
In the second set Marcio raised his level considerably and cut out most of the errors. It took Graeme a while to twig that this had happened, as he found himself 1-3 down – a break which Marcio retained until the score reached 5-3. In particular in the first set Graeme had been able to get away with putting the ball on Marcio’s (leftie) forehand (i.e. Marcio’s left) half the time or more, but in the second set this tactic stopped producing a steady stream of points and instead allowed Marcio to hit a number of winners past him. So around 5-3 Graeme switched tactics and started hitting the ball more to Marcio’s backhand (i.e. right), denying Marcio the winners and points which had come more easily earlier in the set. Further, Graeme started hitting the ball a little harder and taking more risks with placement (deeper and closer to the lines). These changes affected the points won ratios, and Graeme took the next four games to wrap the match up in two sets 6-1 7-5.
Being challenged to raise your game and respond is what serious tennis is all about. At this level it is about playing one’s best (if you wanted just to win all the time you could play only weaker opponents). See the book “The Inner Game of Tennis” by Timothy Galwey for more details.
If you want to know about the duck then ask Barbara.
Ladies’ Singles Final
The Ladies Singles Final this year was between Marjan Denis, the 2015 Champion and top seed, and Ros Norkett who beat the second seed, Lesley South, in three sets. I do feel a little guilty about this after certain information came to light. Lesley had three match points in the second set at 5-6 when I asked someone to go and find out what the score in the match was. Apparently the question was popped immediately to Lesley who says it destroyed her concentration at that critical time, allowing Ros to save the game. Ros then went on to take that set and the next.
Since both Ros and Marjan have strong games when on form, the result of the final was likely to be decided in favour of whoever played closest to their potential. In the first set Ros had the edge, with Marjan making more errors. Ros won it 6-4. This momentum carried over into the second set with Ros 2-1 up with a break, but on her serve Ros double faulted a couple of times which seemed to change the balance of the match, with Marjan now starting to believe she could win it and Ros becoming less certain. The momentum swung – Marjan pulled the break back and created one of her own to take the second set 6-4. In the third set the momentum shift continued as Marjan’s game improved, and Ros had no response. Marjan won 4-6 6-4 6-0.
Men’s Doubles Final
This final was contested between the first and second seeded pairs, Sultan Gangji & Graeme Pearson vs James McKenzie & Greg Lim, also representing a men’s first team pair vs the first pair in the men’s second team. Playing together, James and Greg are unbeated in the Middlesex League for the last 2 years. When it came to the play, Sultan and Graeme had the edge because of their lower error rates and ability to put shots away, but James has a big advantage with his leftie serve with Greg stationed at the net to put away any loose returns, and Greg’s flat shots have a lot of pace. Sultan and Graeme won the first set 6-3, and the second set was only marginally less close at 6-2 for a 6-3 6-2 championship win for Sultan and Graeme.
Ladies’ Doubles Final
This final was also contested between the first seeds, Marjan Denis & Rachel Savin, and second seeds, Ros Norkett & Vandana Talwar. The first set was very one sided as Marjan and Rachel bagelled it (winning 6-0). But the second set proved to be a much tighter and more nervy affair for Marjan and Rachel. The score reached 5 all, but, contrary to expectations, Ros and Vandana won the next two games to take the match to a champions tie-break. Ros and Vandana dug in at this point, making few errors, but Marjan and Rachel made a few mistakes which resulted in a 0-6 7-5 [10-5] championship win to Ros and Vandana.
The Finals’ Day Tea came in between the Men’s and Ladies’ doubles finals and was the usual resplendent event. This was followed by the Presentation of the Trophies, for which the celebrity guest this year was Jane Boyle, with some assistance from Sultan Gangji.
The tasty evening barbecue was attended by thirty people. It is on occasions like this that we all notice the absence of the huge old reservoir valve cover, which has been replaced with a very discreet cover on the ground. This allows the outdoor eating area to spread out as far as the tables will allow. Anna Ganev started some enthusiastic dancing with which various others joined in.
Thanks to the many volunteers who provided or cooked food or helped in many other ways. And thanks to Sultan and Marjan as the tournament organisers / referees. Looking forward to next year (after a suitably lengthy rest from the pressure of daily posts).
Peter and James