Although the finals day weather started out overcast, by the time the tennis was well under way, it turned sunny.
Men’s Singles Final
The Men’s Singles Final was contested between last year’s champion, Marcio Sugui, and the fifth seed, Philip Reid, who beat Greg Lim, the second seed, and last year’s runner up, on his way to the final. It was umpired by Greg Lim. Philip’s fiancee (as of a week ago) Martha, father Walter, and other family members came along to watch Philip contest the final. Marcio takes tennis very seriously, has been playing a lot, including external tournaments, is clearly match fit, and has also been working towards his part 3 coaching qualification, so set up a video of the match.
Philip played very well, retrieved wide balls, and won a decent share of points. But he doesn’t have quite the accuracy, pace, match tightness, and perhaps determination of Marcio. Philip made a good start, but Marcio warmed up, dug in, and just gained an edge. Marcio won the match 6-3 6-3.
Ladies’ Singles Final
This was contested between the top seed, Katie Baston, and the second seed, Rebecca Vaughan and umpired by Marjan Denis. Rebecca is very consistent and tactically astute, but Katie has a more powerful serve and groundstrokes, and would be expected to out-hit her. However, the courts still had a base of moist earth, though the grass itself was completely dry, and this resulted in slightly lower bounces, which does not suit Katie’s topspin groundstrokes. Katie was supported by her parents, on a weekend visit to London.
Rebecca’s strategy was not to take unwarranted risks, but to expect Katie to make errors. Rebecca played solidly throughout the match. Katie just could not get her game going, neither on the serve nor groundstrokes, serving a number of double faults and consistently hitting low-bouncing groundstrokes out. She won enough points to get one game in the first set, to lose it 6-1.
Towards the end of the second set, Katie showed signs of making fewer unforced errors. It always looked as if she might suddenly find her timing and confidence, even at 4-0 down, and reverse the trend. But, though she got a game in the end, the reversal never happened, and Rebecca won the match 6-1 6-1, the reverse of some pre-match predictions.
Ladies’ Doubles Final
After the reverse in the singles, the singles finalists had further business to finish. Having defeated the second seeds, Marjan Denis & Sue Ehr in the semi-final, Barbara Thomas & Rebecca Vaughan now had to play the top seeds Elena Valarche & Katie Baston. You might think that Katie would have been completely thrown by the big defeat in the singles, but that did not seem to be the case. There had been no tears, nor any semblance of a hangover from it. As Kipling said, victory and defeat are both imposters.
The umpire was Sarah Hird. In the doubles, both Rebecca and Katie played very well, and were clearly in their element. If anything, Rebecca played better than in the singles, but the change in Katie was nothing short of transformational. She was particularly keen to get to the net and hit some volley winners, in tandem with her partner Elena, who can invariably be relied on to put them away too. The serve and groundstrokes were also much more solid.Barbara hit good groundstrokes too, ably covering the baseline when Rebecca went to the net. Elena went to the net as often as possible.
The first set was very close up to 5 all. But then Rebecca and Barbara broke serve to take it 7-5. In the second set, Elena and Katie stepped up their game, and applied the pressure from the net, winning it 6-2 and preparing the way for a Champions Tie Break. This replaces a deciding set, and is used in all doubles matches in the tournament.
The Champions Tie Break is first to ten points, but to win, you also need to be two points in front. From something like 7 all, the score reach 8 all, 9 all, 10 all then 11 all. It could have gone either way, but Elena and Katie did not blink first, and took the last two points in a nerve-wracking ending to win the match 5-7 6-2 [13-11].
Katie’s explanation for the transformation change in form in the doubles is that she now had a duty to her partner not to dwell on any mistakes and play one point at a time, a motivation lacking in the singles. It certainly did the trick.
Men’s Doubles Final
The unseeded pair Joseph Rigal & Jasper Tresidder played the top seeds and 2020 champions Sultan Gangji & Greg Lim. Joseph and Jasper are well know hard hitters, but in the past have been somewhat inconsistent. However, both worked their way up through the junior ranks, both are now playing pretty regularly and becoming less error prone. Jasper has no experience of team tennis, but Joseph has been playing regularly for the second team, and once or twice now for the first team. Meanwhile, Greg and Sultan are experienced first team players.
The first set was a bit of an embarrassment for the champions. Joseph and Jasper dominated the middle of the court and the net, and made hardly any unforced errors. They also dominated Sultan’s serve, winning the set 6-2. They hardly put a foot wrong.
In men’s doubles, with the strong expectation of holding serve, a few points either way can make a lot more difference than they might in singles, at least at club level.
The domination of the younger pair continued into the early part of the second set, after which Sultan and Greg changed things up a bit. Pace down the middle of the court wasn’t going to work as both Jasper and Joseph have quick reflexes and good timing, to they started hitting more balls down the lines to stretch Joseph and Jasper sideways. On their own serve, they started adopting an Australian “I” formation. Oh, and crossing their fingers, hoping for Joseph and Jasper’s purple patch to come to an end, with a bit of help from the tactical changes.
The tactics worked, with Joseph and Jasper making just a few more errors. The match situation stabilised somewhat and Sultan and Greg achieved a break to go 4-2 up. But Joseph and Jasper pulled it back for 4 all. In the crucial 9th game of the set, Sultan and Greg broke again and took the set on Sultan’s serve with the help of the Australian formation.
In the ensuing Champion’s tie break, the momentum was now with Sultan and Greg, and they took it [10-5] to win the match 2-6 6-3 [10-5] and retain their crown.
Sultan made a short speech thanking everyone involved in the tournament. Moira Duncan, our chairman, thanked Sultan for organising the tournament, and Jane Boyle presented the prizes.
The Mixed Doubles Final was completed on the evening of Tuesday 31st August. See the match report for Thursday 12 August for the result.
Thank you everyone who has contributed to the tournament. I hope you have enjoyed the reporting, and look forward to entertaining you again in 2022.
Yours, Peter (tournament reporter, lighting engineer and furniture restorer)
p.s. All the photos used in the match reports, plus one or two others, can be found HERE. Uncropped versions and unused photos are available on request.