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?

2015 2015 Tournament Tournament

Finals Day 2015

After some heavy rain during the night, the day was clear, but not particularly warm. The courts were still slightly moist when the singles matches began, though there was no risk of rain for the spectators. These included our international social member, Blake Fillion, who is now working in San Francisco but came to visit us for the second week of the tournament.

The Finals Day Tea was as sumptuous as the occasion demands, and everyone is still finishing off various cakes.

Congratulations to Cedric de la Chaise on a clean sweep of events, repeating his performances of 2005, 2006 and 2011.

2015 2015 Tournament Tournament

Ladies’ Doubles Final 2015

Ladies’ Doubles Final – Marjan Denis & Elena Valarche (1) vs Carine & Margaux Valarche (2)

Umpired by Julia Abbot, this match involved no less than three Valarches for a needle contest of mother, Elena, vs daughters Carine (18 and off to Cambridge if she gets her A*, A*, A) and Margaux (16). Marjan and Carine brought some heavy ground strokes to the table, while Elena and Margaux are both very comfortable at the net. Carine has less experience of match-play doubles than the others as she is the one who does not spend all available leisure time playing tennis. On the other hand, returning on the backhand, she has a heavy cross-court return which can set up the point for Margaux to win at the net. The youngsters had the edge in the first set, which they took 6-3.

The second set was a much closer affair, reaching 6 all to give the youngsters a target of winning one of the two tie-breaks (set tie break and champions tie break) to take the match. However, they only needed the first tie-break which they won 7-3 for a 6-3 7-67-3 victory. Hopefully Carine and Margaux will defend their title next year.

The more perceptive among you will already have realised, but in any case Elena would want me to point out the change of outfit between the singles (turquoise) and doubles (white top with blue pleated skirt) finals. That’s to make her feel a little better after losing both finals – to her doubles partner and her children respectively.

2015 2015 Tournament Tournament

Men’s Doubles Final 2015

Cedric de la Chaise & Peter Fitzgerald (1) vs Sultan Gangji & Graeme Pearson (2)

Again, under the eagle eye of LTA umpire James McKenzie this year’s final was also the third final in a row that these pairs had contested, Cedric and Peter getting the upper hand in 2013 and 2014.  The courts must have dried out considerably by the time of the doubles final, because Peter seemed to have no qualms about throwing himself around the courts with customary abandon when putting his all into getting a shot which might have otherwise been out of reach.  From the perspective of Sultan and Graeme, the fact Graeme had clocked up his first loss in the West Heath singles final in the immediately preceding match might have been a little dispiriting.
Another factor may be that Graeme’s solid topspin baseline game has less impact in a doubles match.  And while Sultan played very well in the doubles semi-final, he was not on top form right at the start of this match.  These factors combined with great play by Cedric and Peter, and some bad bounces, allowed the title holders, Cedric and Peter to increase their winning margin from last year to win the match 6-1 6-1 (last year was 6-4 6-1)

Peter is unlikely to compete and win with Cedric in next year’s tournament, as his company has asked him to go on a prestigious two-year assignment to Japan in early August.  We wish him all the best in his new role, and hope he will be returning to play at West Heath at the conclusion.

2015 2015 Tournament Tournament

Ladies’ Singles Final 2015

Marjan Denis (1) vs Elena Valarche (2)

In a repeat of the 2013 and 2014 ladies’ singles finals, Marjan Denis and Elena Valarche squared off to each other for the third year in a row, umpired by Greg Lim. The match tactics went pretty much as you would expect. Elena would chip and charge the net at every opportunity, and the outcome of the point depended mainly on whether Marjan could withstand the pressure and hit the ball cleanly and precisely on the first passing shot.

In the first set, Marjan executed very well, allowing Elena very few winning vollies, and resulting in Marjan taking the set to love. However, in the second set Marjan started missing, allowing Elena into the match for the first time. At one point it looked like the match might go to a third set. But Marjan regained her concentration, starting to hit the passing-shot winners once more, and winning the second set 6-4 for a 6-0 6-4 victory.

2015 2015 Tournament Tournament

Men’s Singles Final 2015

Graeme Pearson (1) vs Cedric de la Chaise (2)

Regrettably the fact the court was slippery from the overnight rain, and the occasional poor bounce had an impact on this match which was umpired by our very own LTA umpire, James McKenzie. Cedric was reluctant to run full-tilt for balls at first. Graeme has been a slow starter in previous round matches this year, and in the 2014 singles final (which he won). However, in this final he came out of the blocks like an express train, steamrollering a reluctant Cedric, unsure of his footing, into conceding the first set 1-6.

In the second set, perhaps the court was drier, or maybe Cedric now knew what acceleration it would take, because Cedric started competing more vigorously. Aided and abetted by one or two favourable bounces he leapt into the lead and maintained it to win the set 6-3.

In the third set the momentum remained with Cedric. He kept the pressure on Graeme, who made a few unforced errors, whereas Cedric hit the ball like a man on a mission, and chased everything down. Cedric took the final set 6-1 for a 1-6 6-3 6-1 victory – the mirror image in terms of sets won of the 2014 singles final. This is the first time Graeme has been outplayed by Cedric in the three year history of meeting him in the final.

An interesting child’s perspective on this result emerged later at the prize giving. Julia Abbot has very kindly donated two singles runners-up trophies for the West Heath Tournament. After the prize giving Graeme’s daughter exclaimed it was excellent that Graeme had been presented with a shiny brand-new [runners up] trophy instead of the older, battered 1905 [winners] one!!!

Now wouldn’t you think, having won, Cedric would be looking happier than Graeme? Not a chance!

2015 2015 Tournament Tournament

Mixed Doubles Final 2015

Leslie South & James McKenzie versus Margaux Valarche & Cedric de la Chaise (2)

The mixed doubles final was contested by the unseeded James McKenzie and Lesley South and the second seeds Cedric de la Chaise and Margaux Valarche. Marjan Denis umpired. The match started on court 3 pending the finish of the men’s singles semi-final between Logan Mair and Graeme Pearson, whereupon it moved to court 2 which was much more convenient for the vast majority of spectators.

Although the second seeds had stronger, more powerful strokes and a greater level of consistency than the challengers, there was no doubt that the crowd’s favourite in the match was Lesley, because of her underdog status, uncanny tactical understanding and the ability, while at the net, to place an unexpected winner in places where the more mobile Margaux and Cedric just could not get to in time. This winner was invariably greeted by raucous applause and shouting from an unashamedly partisan crowd who always believed they knew the inevitable outcome of the match and were determined to encourage the underdogs.

As often seems to be the case in matches where the opponents are not evenly matched, Lesley and James put up a good defence in the first set, losing it only 6-3. However, either Cedric and Margaux worked out how to win faster, or James in particular could not keep the required level of intensity up into the second set, which Margaux and Cedric won 6-0 for a 6-3 6-0 title.

2015 2015 Tournament Tournament

Thursday 23rd July 2015

Thursday 23 July

Rachael Gangji baked fish pie, which, by common consent, gets more excellent every year (unless memories just fade), plus lemon tort and cheesecake which maybe provided too much in the way of temptation.

The resumption of the ladies’ singles semi-final between Lesley South and the second seed Elena Valarche started from 2 all in the final set. Although Lesley provided resistance, Elena was the more determined and closed out the match for a 7-5 2-6 6-3 victory.

On court 1, the sixth seed Gabor Felsen hoped to make a dent in the final appearance record of the second seed Cedric de la Chaise. To allow Gabor more convenient seated banana breaks, the officials were now providing on-court chairs for courts 1 and 2 – just like the hard courts really. Cedric generally had a look of grim determination on his face, and generally played the more accurate and penetrating tennis, evincing various expressions in Hungarian and English from Gabor, particular when losing a point had been due to Gabor’s unforced error. Gabor claims the Hungarian translates into phrases such as “Come on! Your grandmother plays better tennis than this”. Certainly the English phrases, though loud, did not seem likely to solicit a penalty for a verbal obscenity. Cedric took all this in his stride, though at a certain point you could see him trying unsuccessfully not to laugh.

Cedric’s accurate and mobile tennis in the first set proved too much for Gabor, who did clock up one game, but nothing he tried was able to staunch the flow of points and games to Cedric. Perhaps in the second set Gabor became more resigned to his fate, because the exclamations all but disappeared. The outcome was the same, for a 6-1 6-1 victory to Cedric.

The other men’s semi-final had the potential to be a much closer affair, as Logan Mair has a penetrating and almost unreturnable serve at its best, whereas Graeme Pearson’s strengths are accuracy and consistency. Graeme also seems to be a slow starter, and Logan broke him to get the opportunity to go 3-1 up which would have given him a sporting chance of the first set, but did not take it. It was fascinating tennis, because you could not determine the outcome of each point from the start. Logan tended to come to the net and use angled volleys in alternate directions to try to get the ball out of Graeme’s reach. Sometimes it worked, but sometimes Graeme produced a stunning passing shot from a full stretch. Graeme won the first set 6-3. The second set was similar, but Graeme was well warmed up by now and Logan could not quite keep up the pressure from the first set, so Graeme took the match 6-3 6-2.

If Logan really has not been playing much over the past year or so then he is only going to get better with more practice and play. If he devotes more time to his tennis over the next year then expect to see him put in a serious challenge in the 2016 tournament.

2015 2015 Tournament Tournament

Wednesday 22nd July 2015


Moira Duncan provided a tasty Moroccan lamb tagine, with complementary yoghurt dessert, which went down well.

In the ladies’ semi-final, Julia Abbot played Marjan Denis, the title holder. Julia is a consistent player with decent speed about the court, but Marjan has the stronger strokes, as well as being fast about court, though she may not always be as steady. Although it was a good game to watch, Marjan always had the slight edge, including more aggressive placement, and won the match 6-2 6-2.   The photo has incredible contrasts with black storm clouds looming in the background while the club courts are in brilliant sunshine!

One of the two men’s doubles semi-finals played featured Greg Lim and James McKenzie, the third seeds, against title holders Cedric de la Chaise and Peter Fitzgerald. For those that don’t already know, Peter and his family are soon off to Japan for a two year assignment.


In the first set matters were relatively even, with Greg and James playing somewhere near their potential, the difference usually being Cedric’s ability to make the correct placement with plenty of disguise to hit a winner, often at close quarters. This enabled the holders to win the first set 6-4. In the second set Greg and James could not sustain the level required to compete fully for every game, and their error rate went up, enabling Cedric and Peter to register a 6-4 6-1 win. It would have been good to capture the body language and expressions on Greg and James’ face after one of their unforced errors, because such a picture might have summed up their view of the second set very well.


The other men’s doubles semi-final took place on court 3, to the disappointment of spectators who had selected seats giving a good view over courts 1 and 2. Marcio Sugui and Ed Fitzgerald took on the second seeds Sultan Gangji and Graeme Pearson. Although there was some good tennis played, and some good serving from Ed, Sultan and Graeme were playing well, unlike a previous match in which Sultan appeared to make a number of unforced error, and the result was a 6-1 6-0 win to Sultan and Graeme.

2015 2015 Tournament Tournament

Tuesday 21st July 2015

The evening was fine, and all five scheduled matches were completed.


Lesley South prepared a tasty selection of Thai curries, and there were plenty of takers for seconds. She also provided meringue and sorbet for dessert. Seconds here were more of a challenge as I was not the only person to experience losing my dessert bowl. I put it down for a microsecond while Sultan insisted on a salacious photo, and having it whisked away smoothly and unnoticeably by someone clearing up!

The first show court match was a quarter-final match between the seventh seed Philip Reid and the title holder Graeme Pearson. Both seemed to specialise in good-length topspin drives, and both achieved good court coverage in retrieving the others drives. But the snag with this from Philip’s viewpoint is that Graeme’s error rate was lower than his, and Graeme’s accuracy slightly better, so the approach favoured a victory by Graeme. It is difficult to be sure, but on the odd point or two where Philip hit a drop shot to the opposite side from where Graeme had just hit a drive, he stood a better chance of winning the point. Graeme may have been able to counter such a strategy, but this may have opened up otehr opportunities to Philip. And lastly, Graeme may have had plenty up his sleeve and been very happy to practise topspin drives for an hour. The net result was a 6-3 6-1 victory to Graeme.


Alongside this match we had the two ladies doubles semi-finals. On number 1 court Julia Abbot and Sally Tornow played the first seeds Elena Valarche and Marjan Denis. Although Julia and Sally hit a number of good shots, the title holders were too strong for them and won 6-0 6-1.


In the ladies semi-final on court 3 Moira Duncan and Lesley South took on the partnership of the Valarche sisters, Carine and Margaux of ages 18 and 16 respectively. Both have had group coaching for a number of years so have consistent, mainly technically good strokes, and Margaux in particular has extremely good mobility around the court. Further, Lesley had used up virtually all the energy in her legs the previous evening playing doubles then singles against Elena Valarche, not to mention the mental energy required to plan and cook the evening’s Gourmet Dinner. All of which did not bode well for the more mature couple. And so it proved as the score was the same 6-0 6-1 as in the other semi-final.


The second of the mixed doubles semi-finals involved the second seeds Margaux Valarche and Cedric de la Chaise versus Jane Boyle and Greg Lim. Although Jane and Greg played well, the superior shot-making and mobility of Margaux and Cedric were key. The challengers got two games in each set for a 6-2 6-2 victory for Cedric and Margaux.


In the show court men’s doubles quarter final, Tim Simpson and Oleg Khomenko (pronounced something like “Alec” as Elena Valarche insisted on telling us every time we said it) were attempting to upset the second seeds Sultan Gangji and Graeme Pearson. It appeared that Sultan was not having a good match, and Oleg also started slowly, whereas Tim seemed to be playing out of his skin while Graeme was steady. The tight first set was won 6-4 by Sultan and Graeme, though this was a bit of a shock to specators who had not been following the score closely. In the second set Oleg’s level improved quite a bit, which made it an even tighter affair than the first set. The challengers service games were always under threat but they managed to hold until 5 all, when a break handed Sultan and Graeme the match 6-4 7-5.

2015 2015 Tournament Tournament

Monday 20th July 2015


The dodgy weather this evening meant that only two of three matches were completed. The third was abandoned due to bad light in the final set.

For the Gourmet Dinner, Julia Abbot prepared a delicious moussaka, and Carine Valarche provided complementary Greek delicacies of figs and baklava.

What a complete men’s singles quarter-final it was – the match of the tournament so far – between the fourth seed, Greg Lim and the fifth seed Logan Mair.. Both players were going for it in a way we did not see yesterday between Gabor Felsen and Marcio Sugui. No quarter was asked for or given. Proof of the fact that Greg was executing split steps on Logan’s shots emerged accidentally when a photo was taken on an adjacent court of the end of a match! Either that or he has learned to walk on air.


In the first set Logan’s first serve had a few problems, and this was enough for Greg to be able to break him. Despite his languid style, Greg is very capable of hitting powerful flat winners off second serves, and it was no surprise he was able to break and take the set 6-3. But Logan’s first serve improved in the second set, which put the pressure more on Greg, who started to miss a little more. Logan took the second set 6-4, preparing the way for a thriling conclusion to the match.

In the third set Logan’s first serve was firing on all four cylinders, and Greg could often not return it at all. Further, Logan was putting the pressure on and Greg found it increasingly difficult to resist. At 2-5 down Greg was feeling the pressure so much that he double faulted three times to give Logan match points. To see the culmination of the match click on video of match point. (Sorry, had to move the embedded video that was here because the web hosting company reported it was likely to use all our allowed bandwidth before the end of the month!)

Logan won the third set 6-2 for a 3-6 6-4 6-2 victory.

On seeing himself serving on video for the first time, Greg’s immortal quote was : “That’s a really weird service action”!!!


In the completed match on court 2, the first mixed doubles seeds, Elena Valarche and Marcio Sugui were challenged by James McKenzie and Lesley South (of doubles “yours!” fame). This was a pretty even affair. The top seeds started well, winning the first set 6-2, but there were numerous rain delays (although the singles on court 1 carried on through them all). In the second set Elena’s dynamic play was less evident, as the possibility of slipping increased. James, however, played better, continuing the running, and Lesley retrieved a number of shots that you would not necessarily expect her to, and returning them with her customary tactical flair for placement. The challengers narrowly took the second set 6-4.

In the ensuing champions tie break Lesley and James took a lead of around 4 points. Bearing in mind that the previous year Elena and Marcio had retrieved a champions tie break from a seemingly impossible position, we were all expecting a comeback. But it did not arrive, and James and Lesley deservedly won the match for playing beyond normal expection with a score of 2-6 6-4 [10-7].

Elena Valarche and Lesley South then faced each other again, this time in the singles. Elena won a tight first set 7-5. In the second set Lesley perhaps remembered that it was better to run around a bit more in singles, and proceded to amaze us all with her retrieving, aided and abetted by anticipation which has been honed over many years. At one point Elena slipped and asked for the match to be adjourned for the evening, but the hard-hearted officials declined the request. The second set went to Lesley 6-2.

The third set got only as far as 2 all before the light on the overcast evening became too dim, leaving all to play for after a 5-7 6-2 2-2 (to Lesley) score line.