On a fantastic warm day Moira Duncan cooked a tasty Moroccan lamb tagine for 25 people and Jill Elek made delightful creme caramel for dessert. We went home just after 11 pm but those more determined and with more stamina were still drinking the wine provided by Sultan, especially his special Rose (click on picture to examine it closely). With the full moon out and the West Heath fairy lights sporting some new coloured bulbs who knows what time socialising finished, but the West Heath Tournament Gourmet Dinners week is a marathon rather than a sprint, and few have the stamina to burn the midnight oil four nights on the trot (although, it should be admitted, some of them have had plenty of practice).
The first two matches to go on court were ladies’ doubles semi-finals. On court two Jane Boyle & Barbara Thomas were taking on the second seeds Ros Norkett & Vandana Talwar. The first set did not go at all according to the seeding as Jane’s leftie slice shots and Barbara’s determination to get to balls put them on the ascendancy in a hard-fought set which they won 6-3. However, in what seemed like a faster second set Ros and Vandana’s better consistency allowed them to impose their game on the challengers. Ros and Vandana took the set 6-2, setting up a grand finale of a Champions Tie Break. This was a pretty tight affair which maybe could have gone either way, but Ros and Vandana made just slightly fewer errors to take it 10-8 for an overall 3-6 6-2 [10-8] victory. At the request of the participants Vince Sudbery agreed to take the photo beforehand.
In the second ladies’ doubles semi Lesley South & Moira Duncan were attempting to upset the first seeds, Marjan Denis & Rachel Savin. You would expect that Moira’s pacy forehand would see her playing on the right, while Lesley’s understanding of the angles would let her hit winners from either side, and this is the way they started the match. But in the first set this configuration did not seem to work very well as Marjan and Rachel took the set 6-2. Perhaps they had worked out a way to nullify Moira’s forehand, or perhaps Lesley was worried about Oscar who has not been well the last few days and could not concentrate as well as normal. Going with the first theory, Lesley and Moira swapped sides in the second set, with Moira unusually playing on the backhand, and this yielded a better result, but Marjan and Rachel’s superior pace still enabled them to win it 6-4 for a 6-2 6-4 place in the final.
The evening’s men’s singles quarter-final match started on court 1. Sam Evans and Jason Traub were battling it out to see who would face either Graeme Pearson (top seed) or Tim Simpson in the semi-final. Throughout the match Tim kept assuring us that the winner would be facing him, but then maybe he was overcompensating for his loss in the mixed doubles to Anna Ganev and Jason Tressider. Sam and Jason played some good tennis. Sam was hitting consistent ground strokes and Jason sent down some pretty hard and high-bouncing serves. In the first set, after reaching 5 all, Sam broke Jason to take the set 7-5. The second set was even closer, as the score got to 6 all and they played the first point of the tie-break. At this point the wishes of the spectators became paramount and the match was moved to court 2 to provide the main entertainment to replace the ladies doubles. Again, the tie-break was pretty close, and, to the delight of the crowd who wanted more (since dinner was not yet ready), Jason took it 8-6. In the third set, despite Jason’s booming servers, Sam just had the edge and won it 6-3.
In the final match of the evening the winning doubles pairing of Marjan Denis and Rachel Savin split up to compete against each other for a place in the ladies’ singles final. Rachel surprised the seeding committee by taking the first set 6-4, and the second set reached 3 all. However, despite the heat of the day, the temperature was dropping and the dew point approaching. Marjan had slipped a few times already, and the contestants decided discretion was the better part of valour, so they postponed the climax of the contest until Wednesday evening.
Although Monday was warm, Tuesday will be even warmer and temperatures are expected to exceed 30 C on Wednesday, though it will cool off on Thursday. If you haven’t already booked your place at the Gourmet dinners then put your name down or phone the chefs. Thursday is already up to 34 people and it may be difficult to fit many more in.