2016 2016 Tournament Tournament

Tournament Report – 2016 Finals Day

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

whdraw16_MarcioDuringChangeover_2016-07-23 15.35.47In 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.

whdraw16_MarcioKevinGraeme_2016-07-23 15.36.25In 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).  whdraw16_GraemePlusDuck_2016-07-23 15.38.35These 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

whdraw16_RosBlakeMarjan_2016-07-23 16.11.13The 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

whdraw16_GregJamesPhilipSultanGraeme_2016-07-23 17.01.43This 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

whdraw16_RosVandanaBlakeMarjanRachel_2016-07-23 17.53.05whdraw16_MarjanVandanaRachelDuringPoint_2016-07-23 17.48.25This 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.

2016-07-23 18.15.53 2016-07-24 00.38.57The 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.


2016-07-23 18.11.38

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

2016 2016 Tournament Tournament

West Heath from the air

Sam brought along a drone on Thursday to record an aerial view of West Heath. Take a look!

More to follow
2016 2016 Tournament Tournament

Tournament Report – Thursday 21 July

Rachael Gangji provided the evening’s fish pie, with Lara’s cheesecake and strawberry pavlova proffered as the sumptuous climax to this year’s Gourmet Dinner season.

Three matches were played on the last mid-week evening of Finals Week. The weather, whilst still kind, had conspired to bring cloud cover to West Heath for the first time this week. The matches were played with perfect visibility for all, so there was no need to shift courts to avoid the sun or take up a defensive position behind a tree.


whdraw16_SamGraeme_2016-07-21 19.20.22
The first of the two men’s singles semi-finals to begin was Sam Evans against Graeme Pearson.  In the absence of Cedric de la Chaise (2015 champion), Graeme is the top seed.  Tim Simpson had taken 4 games off Graeme in the first set in the quarter final match, and the question was whether jet lag from Graeme’s trip to Canada earlier this week had featured in this minor delay in Graeme’s swift progress to the final; we got the answer today.  Sam played well, but Graeme made very few errors, even under pressure and was almost always able to hit the ball with pace to the exact spot required. Sam hit hard balls and serves at Graeme, but Graeme typically returned them to his chosen spot as if it was the 100th ball he had drilled to that point in the last 5 minutes.  Sam could not apply sufficient pressure to stop Graeme from hitting balls he had only just got to, to the most inconvenient place on the court for Sam, whereas Sam usually lost the point immediately when in the same situation.  So the match was short and sweet (at least as far as Graeme was concerned) and Sam got raucous cheers from the crowd when, in the second set, he won his only game.  Graeme won 6-0 6-1.  Come back Cedric de la Chaise, because it is difficult to see anyone else present that Graeme will not take apart in the final on Saturday, such seemed the gulf in this semi-final.

whdraw16_MarcioPhilip_2016-07-21 20.40.12
Starting slightly after them on Court 2 was the hotly anticipated fixture between Marcio Sugui and Philip Reid.  Whereas everyone knew the result of the first semi-final in advance, this one was expected to be very close indeed.  The first set started with 3rd seed Marcio, the left hander, a bit cold. A lot of his topspin shots, normally hooked in, went wide, meaning that 7th seed Philip usually won the point when Marcio had to hit an angle or lose the point.  Philip made errors too though, including the occasional double fault.  Philip is very tall, and, considering the speed at which he can hit the serve, he should be getting huge penetration, but his service is flawed because he hits the ball when his upper body is on the way down, rather than at the peak of its extension.  So the penetration and margin for error is reduced compared to what it could be.  The net of all these effects is that the first set was very tight and reached 6-6, with Philip winning the resulting tie-break.

Marcio was much better warmed-up for the second set and typically succeeded in passing Philip when he came to the net, and also had the upper hand in baseline rallies whose winner depended on hitting accurate angles.  Marcio won this set 6-1.  At the beginning of the third set it looked like it could have gone either way, but Marcio gained the upper hand and did not let up, eventually winning 6-7 6-1 6-3.

Mixed Doubles Final

whdraw16_JamesLesleyGregMarjan_2016-07-21 20.46.00

The last match was the mixed doubles final between first and second seeds, Lesley South and James McKenzie (last year’s runners up)playing Marjan Denis and Greg Lim. Not only had the seeding committee got it right but there was also a fair amount of money being exchanged on the bank regarding this match’s outcome. The new pairing of Marjan and Greg had come through a difficult semi-final encounter whilst Lesley and James were yet to drop a set. In traditional fashion, Lesley won the toss and put James in to bat. After Marjan and Greg gave their opponents ‘one in the sun’, James served and did not do so as convincingly as desired. Nonetheless, he held his serve after a deuce or two and much the more relieved for it. Greg’s service game was remarkable for pin-point accuracy in the deuce court; Lesley could do nothing with the wide serves and Greg secured points with two aces and an unreturned serve. However, the story in the ad’ court was almost the reverse, with all returns being made and then made good. Lesley and James unexpectedly secured the break after a couple of deuces and started Lesley’s service game at 2-0. Lesley’s serve is not rapid, but is exceptionally well placed. Hit consistently to both backhands, it gives an opportunity for interceptions at the net. Some of these were put away whilst others hit the back fence. After much too-ing and fro-ing, the game was held for a 3-0 lead. After replenishments at the change of ends (for one of the players, it should be noted that the half-life of macaroni cheese is notoriously short), it was Marjan’s turn to serve. With some good placement and lengthy rallies, Marjan and Greg held the game. James’s second service game was a little more comfortable, as also was Greg’s. The score reached 5-3 leaving lefty James to serve for the set. Whilst not entirely straightforward, the top seeds hung on to clinch the first set 6-3.

Perhaps in a slight daze, James, the only professional umpire on the court, claimed that the players should “change for one”. Er, not so, said Marjan whilst bananas were bolted down and Lucozade lapped up during the set break. Back in their previous positions, the second set continued with a couple of service holds and a service break to the second seeds. It seemed likely that the match was heading to a match tie-break. However, the break was quickly returned and the score after Greg’s service game was 5-4. James served to stay in the set [no pressure] and it looked like he and Lesley might have escaped. However, Harry Houdini himself would have struggled [no exaggeration – tennis wasn’t his forte] to escape. James and Lesley saved the first set point, but not the second. Marjan’s hefty returning of serve and Greg’s flat groundstrokes in that game allowed them snatch the second set 6-4.

Match tie-breaks are neither James’s nor Greg’s favourite thing [beer? – Peter]. Although not explicitly discussed, it is probably the case that Marjan favours raindrops on roses and whiskers on kittens, whilst Lesley has been known to be keener on bright copper kettles and warm woollen mittens than match tie breaks. Alas, the final came down to the wire with a first-to-ten-with-a-margin-of-two format. After some solid play, cheeky angles and crucial net interceptions, the 1st seeds inched towards a 4-2 lead at the first change of ends and 8-4 by the second. At 9-4 Lesley served for the title and delivered a low dippy angled serve to Greg’s backhand. James pounced on the return with a decisive down-the-middle volley very fitting to winning a final, securing the title 6-3 4-6 [10-4].

Marjan and Greg played solidly throughout, with little between the four players throughout much of the match. There was some heavy hitting in all quarters, no quarter was spared, and some delicate touch shots to boot. During the deciding match tie-break it was James and Lesley who better mastered their nerves: Lesley calmly delivered angled put-aways and James was dogged at the net, perhaps due to Lesley’s faultless attention to his carbohydrate levels. Whilst Novak reached the top with a gluten-free diet, James’s path was paved with macaroni cheese supplemented mid-match with two bananas and a bottle of Lucozade. In spite of this carb-loading, there was still room for Rachael’s much anticipated – and as it turned out delicious – fish pie.


whdraw16_drone_2016-07-21 21.07.15As an experiment, Sam Evans brought along a drone to take some aerial pictures.  Unfortunately it was just a little too noisy (even at 50m height) to use to video sequences from the second men’s semi-final in progress, but he did take some shots of everyone and we look forward to including them in this post when available.  They include a shot of Sultan ‘B. DeMille’ Gangji’s attempted choreography of the entire massed attendees at West Heath, who can be seen ‘directing’ in the photo below.  Don’t give up the day job Sultan.

We are all looking forward to the four remaining finals at 2 pm on Saturday afternoon. First up on courts 1 and 2 will be the ladies’ and men’s singles finals. These will be followed by the two doubles finals, a delicious tea and an evening BBQ. See you there…


2016 2016 Tournament Tournament

Tournament Report – Wednesday 20 July

Tonight Marjan Denis cooked a variety of tasty lasagnas designed for all West Heath dietary requirements (including regular, soya-free, and wheat-free also suitable for lactose intolerance), followed by a rapidly-disappearing tiramisu.  However, she was also scheduled to play throughout the evening, so Lesley South and Moira Duncan stepped in to complete the cooking, which did not stop Marjan fretting over it.  Perhaps this takes her mind off the tennis, enabling her to play better (just a theory, Marjan).

whdraw16_GraemeTime_2016-07-20 19.07.37There were six matches on the schedule for the evening.  The first was the men’s quarter final between Tim Simpson, the 8th seed, and Graeme Pearson who is the top seed in the absence of Cedric de la Chaise who beat him in the final last year.  Tim was rather hoping to catch Graeme on the hop – Atlantic hopping to be precise, as Graeme had just had to make a business trip to Canada and so was presumably suffering from some form of jet lag.  Tim’s serve has improved considerably over the last year, as have some of his ground strokes, and Graeme is often a slow starter in the singles matches in the later stages of a tournament.  So Tim did quite well in the first set with a heavy serve and volley featuring regularly.  However, Graeme not playing full tilt is still a major force to be reckoned with, and Tim made a few more errors than Graeme resulting in Graeme winning the first set 6-4.

In the second set Graeme warmed up and got his eye in.  Typically this meant that if Tim was at the net and Graham had a chance to prepare his passing shot, he would generally pass Tim on either side at random (at least as far as Tim was concerned).  This put more pressure on Tim who tried to force his second serves, resulting in a few more double faults – enough to give Graeme the edge.  The result was that Graeme won the second set more easily – 6-1 for a 6-4 6-1 victory.  And as matters turned out later, it was just as well that Tim’s match plan did not achieve ultimate success.

whdraw16_RosLesley_IMG_0705The ladies’ singles semi-final match started up alongside the men’s singles and seemed to be a permanent fixture for the evening.  Lesley South, the second seed, was playing Ros Norkett.  Ros started slowly wheres Lesley’s game is one of placement and accuracy, rather than necessarily pace, so possibly needs less warming up.  Lesley took the first set 6-1.  With Ros now warmed up, the second set was rather closer, still allowing Lesley to reach match point at 5-4 up.  However, this time she forgot her lines and Ros used her better pace to take the game and the next two to win the set 7-5.

Remember that the singles events are still three tie-break sets – no Champions Tie Break.  In the third set Lesley never quite achieved the dominance and lower error rate of the first set and most of the second set, and Ros hit some good serves and excellent placed winners just out of reach to put Lesley on the defensive, though Ros’s service game at 1-2 down seemed to last for ever (or at least considerably longer than the Champions Tie-Break described below) .  In the end Ros took the set 6-4 for a 1-6 7-6 6-4 victory in a match that must have lasted for over 2 hours.

whdraw16_RachelGregMarjanPhilip_2016-07-20 19.44.53Rachel Savin was a little delayed for her mixed doubles match and her partner, Philip Reid, had to pick her up.  Meanwhile, their opponents, the second seeds Marjan Denis & Greg Lim, were well warmed up by the time Rachel appeared on court and went straight into the match with no obvious warm-up.  You might think this would be highly disadvantageous for Rachel and Philip.  However, Greg later admitted to being a little nervy in the first set.  Certainly Rachel and Philip had the upper hand, and Philip was putting away at the net anything which came even vaguely with reach, intercepting to great effect.  Rachel and Philip won the first set 6-2.  Greg played a little better in the second set, which Marjan and Denis won 6-2, but they did not both play their best until the Champions Tie Break.  They pulled ahead in this, but Philip and Rachel hauled them back to 9 all.  If memories are correct, Greg then won his serve and Philip put Marjan’s return from Rachel’s serve out to give Greg and Marjan a 2-6 6-2 [11-9] victory and a place in Thursday’s final.

whdraw16_JamesTimMarcioGreg_2016-07-20 20.31.53Perhaps a little chastened by his defeat at the hands of Greame Pearson, Tim Simpson now partnered Marcio Sugui in an all second team men’s doubles match against second seeds James McKenzie & Greg Lim.  If you remember, playing as a pair James and Greg have not lost a Middlesex League match in two years, so it was expected to be an uphill struggle for Tim and Marcio.  And so it proved, with James and Greg winning the first set 6-2 despite Tim’s booming serve and Marcio’s leftie slice.  James and Greg then reached 2-0 in the second set.  At this point, in Tim’s words, on one shot he launched himself [at the ball] and felt something in his calf pop.  There was no question of carrying on, and he limped to the benches for ice, sympathy and beer.  “No question of carrying on” means, of course, no question of Tim carrying on.  The other second-team players could see no reason not to draft in Philip Reid to complete the set.  The score was not revealed but Philip did later complain that Tim had not left his side in a good state to take the second set.

Tim used an ice pack, got a lot of advice as to what to do, and had a few beers which put him in a better frame of mind, but still could not hobble far unaided so Sam Evans gave him a lift home.  We all wish him well.

whdraw16_SultanGraemeSamLogan_2016-07-20 20.24.26In the other men’s doubles semi-final the top seeds, Graeme Pearson & Sultan Gangji, were in action against the third seeds Logan Mair & Sam Evans.  Graeme and Sam were generally making few mistakes, Logan made a few errors but was serving pretty hard.  There were some good net-play reaction points which had the spectators in rapturous applause.  But in general Graeme’s accurate placement (nothing spectacular but often just out of reach ) made it difficult for the opposition to gain an advantage in the point.  Sultan did his bit, slapping the ball away where possible and chasing down some balls in the tram lines with a speed that would have been impossible a few years ago before his hip operation.  The slight advantage to the top seeds translated into a 6-2 score line in both sets, allowing Sultan and Graeme to march into Saturday’s final 6-2 6-2.

whdraw16_MarjanRachel_2016-07-20 20.53.44The final match of the evening was the resumption of the ladies’ singles semi-final between Marjan Denis and Rachel Savin.  This had to be abandoned late on Monday evening as the court became increasingly slippery.  Rachel was leading 6-4 3 all.  On the resumption a distinct pattern of play was noticeable, with Marjan aiming the ball into the corner (with an appropriate margin) whereas was trying to play it safe and hit the ball down the middle of the court.  Rachel also tended to be at a disadvantage when Marjan played a short low ball.  Nevertheless, the score reached 6 all, forcing a second set tie-break which Marjan won.  In the third set (full set with tie-break), Marjan gained the upper hand and was leading 4-2 when it became slippery and difficult to see the ball.  At this point Rachel graciously conceded the match to Marjan as it was not clear otherwise when the match could be completed prior to the final, as Rachel had booked tickets for the theatre for Thursday evening.

2016 2016 Tournament Tournament

Tournament Report – Tuesday 19 July


Photo courtesy of Susan Grossman
Photo courtesy of Susan Grossman

The Gourmet Dinner chef this evening was Lesley South, who provided an appetizing Far-Eastern themed barbecue meal.  Unfortunately the lighting of the (new club) barbecue caused consternation among the spectators as the wind was blowing exactly towards the clubhouse carrying smoke towards the entire crowd, most of whom rapidly dispersed.  Fortunately it did not interfere with the match in play.



The evening’s first match was a mixed doubles quarter final tie between the first and third seeds. Top seeds James and Lesley – also the evening’s Gourmet Chef – were up against Ros and Sultan on a sunny Court 3. Both pairs had recorded convincing wins in the previous round (Anna described Sultan’s and Ros’s victory over her and Jasper as like being run over by a tractor) and this was a fixture that had the potential to go either way. James and Lesley decided to start serving into the sun and in true form (see previous reports ad nauseum), James struggled to serve well and just about clung on to his own service game in spite of facing a few break points. Sultan and Ros returned well to keep the top seeds under pressure, and Sultan, in the second game, showed us how to hold a service game with ease. Lesley, like her partner, got off to a slow service start, but pulled it back with some trademark angles and delicate placement. James and Lesley pulled away to a 2-1 lead and broke Ros and dutifully held the subsequent game to rack up a 4-1 scoreline. Sultan again held his own in the sunshine, and Lesley held her own in the shady end. The first set point for the first seeds came and went, but they grasped the first set on the next attempt, to win 6-2. The second set followed the exact same service hold/break pattern until 5-2 when Ros served to stay in the match. James and Lesley won the next game to record a 6-2 6-3 victory and advance to Thursday’s final. Who they will meet is to be decided on Wednesday. After a quick costume change, Lesley was straight back in the kitchen to organise the evening’s delicious Gourmet Dinner.


whdraw16_LoganPhilip_2016-07-19 20.58.26The subsequent men’s singles match between between the second seed, Logan Mair, and the seventh, Philip Reid, was expected to be close.  However, Logan got off to a slow start in the first set in a match that started off more about placement and not losing points than about hitting winners.  Philip took the first set 6-2.  In the second set Logan reduced his error rate somewhat and just got the upper hand to take it 6-4.  The third set started fairly evenly, but Philip put huge pressure on Logan’s service game which Logan eventually won to take the score to 2 all.  But after that Logan was never quite on top, with Philip continuing to apply pressure and Logan making just a few more errors.  The inevitable break allowed Philip victory 6-2 4-6 6-3.

The opinion of the crowd is that the result of the semi-final match between Philip and Marcio Sugui will be dependent on how closely each performs to their respective capabilities.  If both play as well as they are capable of it should be another cracking match.  Tim Simpson is still confidently predicting that he will win his quarter final with Graeme Simpson as Graeme is flying back from 24 hours in Canada, but Sultan Gangji doesn’t think Tim stands much chance.  However Graeme can often be a slow starter in the club final, so it is entirely possible Tim could take the first set if he surprises Graeme (and the rest of us) with some solid early play.

Photo courtesy of Susan Grossman

Tomorrows schedule is jam-packed, with six matches to complete.  So be sure to get there early so as not to miss any of your chosen action.  You will be doing well if you can follow all three matches at the same time.

2016 2016 Tournament Tournament

Tournament Report – Monday 18 July

2016-07-18 22.17.42whdraw16_SultansSpecialWine_2016-07-18 19.57.35On 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).

whdraw16_VandanaRosJaneBarbara_Jul16Tennis277The 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 thewhdraw16_MarjanRachelLesleyMoira_2016-07-18 19.43.52 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.

whdraw16_SamJason_2016-07-18 20.44.26The 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.

2016 2016 Tournament Tournament

Gourmet Dinners, 18-21st July


Come and watch the later rounds of the tournament and stay for an excellent meal.  Sign the lists on the wall near the kitchen to reserve your place for the Gourmet dinners. The chefs and matches this year are :-

Monday 18
Moira Duncan (Moroccan lamb tagine)
Tuesday 19
Lesley South (Far Eastern)
Wednesday 20
Marjan (Italian)
Thursday 21
Rachael Gangji & Lara (fish pie) Matches : Mixed Doubles Final

See the “Schedule” tab of the draw page for the order of play during the Gourmet Dinners, though matches may change without notice!

2016 2016 Tournament Tournament

Tournament Report – Sunday 17 July

Today was another warm and sunny day, though nothing compared to Wednesday’s predicted 30 degrees C.  There were a lot of people around, including those playing in the seven matches and many others who had come for social tennis.  Geoff Isaacs brought a good selection of his extended family too.

whdraw16_GregJason_2016-07-17 15.22.02The first pair of matches were in the men’s singles.  In the absence of the 2015 Champion, Cedric de la Chaise, Graeme Pearson is this year’s top men’s seed and put in his first tournament appearance this afternoon.   Ed Fitzgerald was competing against him in the singles.  Ed won three games in the first set, but none in the second, for a 6-3 6-0 win for Graeme.

The concurrent men’s singles match was altogether a longer affair.  Jason Traub was playing Greg Lim, the fifth seed.  The first two sets were very tight, with Jason taking the first 7-5.  Then Greg stepped up his level slightly to take the second set to a tie-break, which he won 8-6.  In the third set the contestants traded breaks to get to 4 all, whereupon Jason held his serve.  After two and a half hours of playing Greg was then a little nervous on serving to save the match, and played some tentative strokes on one or two points which resulted in Jason breaking to take the match 7-5 6-7[6-8] 6-4.

whdraw16_TakuyaMarkSultanGraeme_2016-07-17 15.27.46The next matches up were men’s doubles.  The first featured the top seeds, Sultan Gangji & Graeme Pearson, against Mark Coxall & Takuya Tonoshima.  The challengers put up a brave fight in both sets, but could not hold on to their serves, and the top seeds won 6-2 6-2.

whdraw16_MarcioTimJasonStan_2016-07-17 16.39.16The second men’s doubles was deferred until teatime (which is nominally 4 pm but often tends to be later) to allow Jason a little recovery time.  It consisted of Stan Vasiliev & Jason Traub taking on the fourth seeds Marcio Sugui & Tim Simpson.  The challengers seemed to be winning quite a few points, particularly when Stan hit out, but both Stan and Jason were also making a number of unforced errors.  Some of the spectators were a little surprised that Marcio and Tim won the first set 6-3.  In the second set matters were a little less even, with the seeds getting the upper hand.  Stan and Jason still hit some good shots but the outcome was becoming more certain as the pressure increased and they went down 6-1 in the second set for a 6-3 6-1 victory to the seeds.

whdraw16_JuliaGeoffRachelPhilip_2016-07-17 16.59.54Before the second men’s doubles match finished a mixed double match started up alongside it.  Rachel Savin & Philip Reid played Julia Abbot and Geoff Isaacs (plus some of his family supporters).  Geoff and Julia took a while to warm up allowing Rachel and Philip to take the first set 6-1.  Rachel generally held her own and Philip’s long reach enabled him to put away a lot of volleys from the net.  Geoff and Julia played better in the second set, but could not stop Rachel and Philip who took the second set 6-3 for a 6-1 6-3 win.

Logan Mair, the second seed had spent most of the day at Lords, witnessing an England whose second-innings wickets increasingly fell at a run total less than was required to match the Pakistan team final total.  By the time the eighth English wicket fell with 80 odd runs still required, Logan decided the writing was on the wall and headed towards the club to play his singles match against Peter Davies, having consumed, he says, only a couple of beers all day in the hot sunshine.  In the first set, Logan was playing well within his capability, whereas Peter was stretched to win points and games, though he also managed to set up an occasional winner which he then missed more often than not.  Logan also made the occasional error while winning the first set 6-2.  In the second set Peter struggled to hold serve and looked like losing 6-1,.  But despite Logan serving at full speed in his final service game, Peter managed to return serve and break Logan in his last service game to make Logan’s margin of victory slightly less one-sided at 6-2 6-2.

On to the Gourmet dinners!


2016 2016 Tournament Tournament

Tournament Report – Saturday 16 July

2016-07-16 20.07.01The Club today had a real buzz about it as there were a lot of players and spectators intent on having a good time.  Anne Basset provided a great tea and the weather was suitable warm, if a little muggy.

Perhaps the surprise of the day was the mixed doubles match between Tim Simpson &  Soo Teng Lee against Jasper Tressider & Anna Ganev.  Tim plays for the second team and is most recently known for his “luscious beard” which he has recently trimmed a little, but that is another story.  Tim had had one or two drinks the night before and Soo Teng has played very whdraw16_JasperAnnaRosSultan_2016-07-16 17.53.21little doubles, but they were nevertheless expected to win.  The first set was pretty close, getting to 6 all, but, contrary to expectations Jasper and Anna won the tie-break (someone said 7-4). Much  encouraged, Jasper and Anna also took the second set 6-1 for an overall unexpected 7-6 6-1 win.

Jasper and Anna’s immediate next opponents were Sultan Gangji & Ros Norkett.  Although I had seen Sultan drinking at the Cumberland the previous evening, maybe he is more used to it than Tim.  The match was notable less for the score (6-0 6-0 to Sultan and Ros) then for the perfect hot-dog that Jasper performed, though he and Anna still did not win the point.  See one point from the match in the YouTube video below.

whdraw16_JosephPhilip_IMG_3388In the men’ssingles Marcio Sugui defeated Bruce Rigal 6-0 6-0.

Philip Reid and the younger Joseph Rigal had a good match.  In the first set Joseph broke Philip once, to take it 6-4.  However, in the second set Philip gained the ascendancy for a 5-1 lead, but Joseph dug in to break back to 5-4, only for Philip to take the second set.  In the third set Joseph tired, allowing Philip a 4-6 6-4 6-2 victory.

whdraw16_SamGaborAfterwardsCropped The men’s singles event forming the entertainment of the early evening was Gabor Felsen vs Sam Evans.  Last year Gabor ate his energy-replenishing bananas sitting on one of the club benches during changeovers.  Although unusual for a tennis club tournament such action is fully within the rules.  This year there were no bananas and Gabor used a chair at the top of the steps leading to grass court 2 while his opponent sat on the grassy bank during changovers.

whdraw16_GaborSam_2016-07-16 19.25.41At the start of the match the shots mostly carried heavy topspin and were hit as deep as possible.  Since Gabor tended to stay around the baseline, it often looked like a short angled shot from Sam would have won the point for Same with much less effort, but sometimes it can be difficult to hit the touch shots on grass.  There were also a few “West Heath bounces” on both sides, bringing the occasional Hungarian phrase from Gabor.  Gabor broke towards the middle of the first set to lead 4-3, but Sam then put in a concentrated effort to bring it back to 5 all, then took the set 7-5.  In the second set Sam’s placement accuracy was a little better and he started winning more points with angled shots, although he could still have exploited drop shots and short shots a little more.  However, since Gabor tired a little in the set, Sam’s strategy was sufficient as he won it 6-1 for a 7-6 6-1 victory.

All in all the tournament is warming up nicely and we are all looking forward to seeing some really entertaining matches on the middle Sunday and during the second week.

2016 2016 Tournament Tournament

Tournament Report – Friday 15 July

whdraw16_RosJulia_20160715_184418Up first on the West Heath turf were Julia Abbott and Ros Norkett in their quarter final match-up. The first loomed towards a tie-break but Ros clinically saw this off, to snatch the first set 7-5. There were some long rallies and well placed balls in the second set as well. Julia just couldn’t quite get her nose in front, and lost the second set 6-4 in a tight contest. The post-match media obligations were significantly delayed, however, due to hair malfunctions. Thankfully these were ironed out in the end!

whdraw16_MoiraBruceLesleyJames_IMG_3386The evening’s second fixture was a mixed doubles quarter finals scheduled for Court 3. Moira Duncan and Bruce Rigall, after their epic victory in the previous round, were pitted against Lesley South and James McKenzie. Bruce was vociferously supported by his son, Joseph, who had been knocking up with his father on Court 2 in preparation for the tie.  Lesley, continuing her form from last year, arrived with a portion of macaroni cheese and a malt loaf. She is well aware of what happens to James when his carbohydrate quotient is depleted.

Having won the toss and elected to serve, Lesley put James into bat first. It was almost a bad move as James struggled to get his serve and ground strokes firing; plenty were splayed into the net. Throwing (figuratively, that is) a few serves out wide saved a couple of break points and finally the service game was held. Lesley and James repelled all that Bruce and Moira could throw at them, and recorded a 6-0 victory in the first set. They raced to a 3-0 lead in the second set before some determined returning from Moira and Bruce got them a game on the board. Thankfully for the first seeds it was just a minor stutter, and they continued unfazed to a 6-1 second set score.

Marcio and Jasper played out the evening’s last fixture*. From the spectators’ perspective it looked a close match with Jasper going toe-to-toe against the much-fancied 3rd seed. The scoreline, however, did not bare this out with Marcio ruthlessly securing a 6-0 6-1 victory.

*Another match did take place, but this is currently under embargo.

2016 2016 Tournament Tournament

Tournament Report – Thursday 14 July

Anna Ganev and Susan Grossman played Moira Duncan and Lesley South in the ladies doubles. Anna and Susan got off to a flying start and broke Moira’s serve to storm to a 3-1 lead. Sources reveal that Susan was clinical at the net during this period, and put many volleys away. This was a team effort, my source reveals, and Anna was no slouch. She put in solid ground strokes and made effective use of the lob to leave their opponents shaking their collective head. 3-1 is a precarious score line as the psychological difference between 4-1 and 3-2 is enormous. Lesley and Moira were not phased by this and cooly restored parity to the scoreline and clawed their way back to 4-4. These games no doubt contained some hard hitting and long rallies with the occasional volley interception by the net players. Once they had got all four of their eyes in, the more experienced pair of Moira and Lesley were in no mood for hanging around. They became more clinical, taking the first set 6-4 and got off to a flying start in the second. In spite of the efforts of Susan and Anna in the second set, they could not combine as effectively as they had done at the beginning. Plaudits must go to the second place team in this fixture for their steely determination and a convincing first set performance. Congratulations also to Moira and Lesley for their spirited comeback, and they march into the semi finals.



Jane and Barbara took on Jo and Julia in the evening’s early fixture. It was a close run match, from what was observed from the embankment. There were plenty of good shots from all protagonists, which were sportingly applauding by partners and opponents alike. In the end, Jane and Barbara prevailed 6-4 in the first set and won 7-6 in the second.

James and Greg, the second seeds took on the highly experienced Mark and Peter [though they can’t remember having played together competitively before – Peter]  in the men’s doubles quarter finals. The tone of the match was set during the first point when, in a single swing, Peter managed to hit the ball at least 3 times and place it delicately away for a winner.

2016-07-14 20.44.32After James’s opening, and troublesome, service game in the sun, James and Greg slowly pulled away from their opponents. There were some hefty rallies and delicate volleys throughout the first set. Peter managed some lovely angles and a few more framed shots whilst Greg became alarmingly consistent by double faulting in each game. He should however be heartily applauded for intercepting skilfully at the net and saving James’s back. Mark was no slouch either, and delivered some hefty ground strokes and was pin-point accurate in his service games. A highly enjoyable fixture, with a second seeds prevailing 6-2 6-3. [More critical analysis required!]

Here is Peter’s version of events though you could form your own opinion from the time-lapse video at the top of the match from a rather low position!  It might have helped to know beforehand that Greg and James have lost zero sets in two years while playing together for the West Heath second team which must have helped considerably in getting promotion before playing all their matches this season (congratulations guys).  In the first three games of the match Peter and Mark were not well warmed up, ceding a 3-0 lead before Peter held his serve.  Thereafter the more aggressive net play of Greg and James allowed only one more game to the challengers.  In the second set Peter and Mark had their eye in, but Greg and James swapped service ends, which was effective.  Greg seems to know exactly where the dead spots are on the clubhouse end service box of court 3 and hit them consistently, allowing no chance on the return.  Meanwhile James’ “leftie” slice serves away from the clubhouse were enhanced by a little wind and the downhill slope at that end, making it very difficult to keep the returns away from the lethal Greg at the net.  Peter hit a couple of winning lobs and one great reaction shot  and Greg double faulted twice in one game to get broken, but Peter and Mark could not hold consistently, and Mark’s hard-hit groundstrokes were well fielded by the opposition when at the net, which allowed for a 6-2 6-3 victory for the seeds.

whdraw16walterlogansamphilipAnother men’s doubles fixture brought together The Two Reids (Walter and Philip), who were pitted against Sam and Logan. The Reids had got the better of the Rigals in a close fought battle on the Wednesday, but (according to Philip) this had left his father somewhat exhausted.  Logan brought a large cadre of his family to the fixture, for what he no doubt promised to be a rip-roaring display from Logie Bear*. Reids Junior and Senior fought the good fight, but ultimately were outclassed. Sam and Logan took the spoils with a 6-2 6-3 victory. For the Father and Son this refrain from Cat Stevens has never rung more true

It’s not time to make a change
Just relax, take it easy
You’re still young, that’s your fault
There’s so much you have to know

whdraw16markjillrachelphilip_2016-07-14 19.11.13Prior to this match, Philip had been in male/female on male/female action in a tie in the mixed doubles round of 16. His partner, (new) Rachel is a recent addition to the club and has been readily adopted into the Ladies’ first team. They were pitted against Mark, another new member, and Jill, a West Heath stalwart. Philip and Rachel got off to a good start with a break to love which Rachel consolidated with the loss of just a single point. Another break to Philip and Rachel left Philip serving at 3-0. Philip is known for his range yet somehow couldn’t put that convincingly into play; he found himself facing a break point and the panic on his face was palpable. This was snuffed out with a ruthless serve, and it was his last jitter to speak of. Mark and Jill fought valiantly but couldn’t deny Philip and Rachel a 6-0 6-2 victory.

* Whether Logie Bear lived up to his billing is, as yet, unknown.

2016 2016 Tournament Tournament

Tournament Report – Weds 13 July

In the mens doubles match two father and son teams battled it out – Philip & Walter Reid versus Bruce & Joseph Rigal.  Although Walter was easily the elder of the two fathers, he played well during the very tight match.  There were no breaks in the first set, taken by the Reids on a tie break, and in the the second set only Bruce was broken for a 7-6 7-5 victory for the Reids.

The consequences next day of the effort by Walter Reid were that he was rather tired for the next round against Logan Mair & Sam Evans, the third seeds.  See Thursday’s match report for the result.



2016 2016 Tournament Tournament

Tournament Report – Monday 11 July

whdraw16_WhHollyhocksMihika Joshi is a junior member with adult playing rights. She is only 11 and not that tall right now.  Nevertheless she can play very good tennis as she proved against Rachel Savin, who joined West Heath this year and is playing team tennis.  The match was very tight, with good rallies and net play.  Mihita took the first set to 5-all but Rachel broke to take it 7-5.  Mihika also forced 6-all in the second set to take it to a deserved tie break though Rachel won this for a 7-5 7-6 victory.

If you would need a decent player to make up the fourth in your ladies, mixed or funny fours at social tennis then don’t forget to ask Mihika. And look out for her progress (which is likely to be rapid) in future years.

In the mixed, Barbara Thomas & Sam Evans beat Susan Grossman & Richard Wu 6-1 6-0.

In the mens singles Tim Simpson beat David Cohen 6-1 6-0.

(Did anyone take any pictures?)

2016 2016 Tournament Tournament

Tournament Report – Sunday 10 July

After some threatening drizzle in the morning, the weather cleared up nicely and two matches were played today.
Carol and Michael Clarke provided their excellent annual tea which is generally regarded as the pinnacle of the West Heath social tennis tea season to which everyone should aspire.

In a tight match Moira Duncan & Bruce Rigal beat Vandana & Dhananjay Talwar in the Champions tie-break .  Vandana played well at the net and Dhananjay’s serve improved as the match went on.  And it was one of those matches where the losing side won the most games.  Bruce and Moira started a little nervously but played consistently to take the first set on the tie-break.  In the second set the Talwars were rampant and took it 6-2.  But Bruce and Moira then played consistently and calmly in the Champions tie-break in which they led 7-2 at one point.  But the Talwars came back to level at 8 all before Bruce and Moira stopped their momentum to seal the match with a 7-6[7-5] 2-6 [10-8] win.

Jasper Tressider and Mark Webb had a two-hour battle in the singles.  Jasper took the first set 7-5 but Mark was then warmed up and took the second set 6-3.  In the final set Jasper pulled ahead to 5-2 before Mark broke back to 5-4.  Mark then had a point for 5-5 but missed his backhand pass down the line, eventually giving Jasper a 7-5 3-6 6-4 victory. [final set score corrected to 6-4 from 6-3]

2016 2016 Tournament Tournament

Tournament Report – Saturday 9 July

whdraw16WhTeaSat9July2016Today four matches were played and one wasn’t.

Paul O’Flynn and Joseph Rigal had a good battle in the singles.  Paul appears to have warmed up first (I bet he had already played that day) and took the first set 6-4.  However, Joseph did a good demolition job in the second set to take it 6-1.  Despite Paul’s attempts to slow down his momentum, Joseph then took the third set for a 4-6 6-1 6-3 victory.

Geoff Isaacs has a slight injury and has pulled out of the singles, giving Bruce Rigal a walkover.  Geoff will still play his doubles matches.

Eugene Belin tried to get games off Sam Evans in their singles match, but to no avail in the first set.  He did win one game in the second though, giving Sam a 6-0 6-1 victory.

Dudley Leigh and Richard Wu played their scheduled match early.  We know Dudley won, but there was no record of the final score.

whdraw16PeterAlbertoAlberto Zanatta and Peter Davies had a 2 hour 45 minute singles “war of attrition”.  With the wind and West Heath bounces making timing difficult, hitting winners was a high-risk strategy, and both players had good movement and consistency so points were hard to win.  That’s the same time it took Andy Murray to beat Raonic the following day to earn his second Wimbledon singles title.  Except that Andy is in his twenties, Alberto in his forties and Peter in his sixties.  Peter took the first set 6-3 and had high hopes with a break in the second, but Alberto dug in and forced a tie-break which he won 7-5.  In the third set Peter relaxed to hit the ball better, and despite good pressure from Alberto, broke and managed to hold on to it to take the match 6-3 6-7[7-5] 6-3.

2016 2016 Tournament Tournament

2016 Tournament Rules

The draws for the tournament have been made and can be found here or on the clubhouse door. The rules for the tournament, such as the schedule and the match format are shown below.

  1. The Tournament officially begins on THURSDAY 8th JULY and the FINALS will be played on SATURDAY 23rd JULY. If rain prevents play, the FINALS will be played on SUNDAY 24th JULY. The Draw will be up by TUESDAY 6th JULY to allow competitors to arrange matches during the week. First round matches must be played before or on SATURDAY 9th JULY.
  2. A chart of available court times is drawn up and competitors are asked to book the courts they intend to play on.
  3. The players whose name appears in the top half of the bracket are initially responsible for challenging their opponents.
  4. The tournament is to be played on all the courts, apart from the semi-finals and the Finals, which will be played on grass, unless the weather does not permit. In the event of disagreement between the opponents on the surface to be chosen, this will be decided by the spin of the racket.
  5. New Balls will be provided for the FINALS.
  6. All rounds are to be played within the scheduled time indicated at the top of each draw sheet in order to allow smooth progress. Extensions will only be permitted in exceptional circumstances and with permission from the joint Referees.
  7. All matches will be the best of 3 Tie-Break Sets except the DOUBLES EVENTS which will have the 3rd set as a MATCH TIE-BREAK (i.e. Champions T/B with a Team reaching 10 points with a margin of 2). The rules of the Tiebreak are displayed.
  8. All matches must be continuous and appeal for bad light will be considered after 9.00pm.
  9. Please give your Entry Fees £3/£5 to Moira or Marjan.
  10. Competitors are expected to volunteer to be lines persons on Finals day.
  11. Mixed Doubles Final will be scheduled for Thursday 21th July
  12. The schedule for 2nd week is fixed with Gourmet Dinners.
  13. The Joint Referees are Marjan and Sultan whose decisions will remain final.


2016 2016 Tournament Tournament

Prolific Champions

The graph below shows who has won the most titles at West Heath over the years. Jane is way out front…

The graph below shows multiple title winners from the year 2010 onwards. Who will add to their total this year?