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Finals Day report – Saturday 30 July

Carine Valarche’s signature Finals Day cake (part of a sumptuous Finals Day tea)

(The cropped versions and all originals of photos used in all 2022 tournament reports are available from here.)

After a day’s rest from matters relating to tennis, we were all ready for the climax of the West Heath 2022 Tournament. The weather was fine, not too hot, with no rain forecast until the evening, and even then, there were only a few spots of it!

Men’s singles final

This was fought out on grass court 2 between Cedric de la Chaise, the second seed, who has missed two years of the West Heath Tournament during the coronavirus era, and Marcio Sugui, who took full advantage, in Cedric’s absence, to take the title twice. Marcio plays for a league team in Harrow, while Cedric plays in the West Heath men’s first team.

Greg Lim was the umpire.

Marcio is a leftie, with an awkward slice serve, while Cedric has a good all round game and super mobility, though an injury had prevented him from playing and training for some months until the last few weeks.

Sultan Gangji says that this match was the first played at West Heath with a complement of linesmen covering all lines with appropriate rotation!

The first set started with a service break to Cedric, who held his own game for a 2-0 lead. There then followed a marathon Marcio service game which seemed to last the whole of the first set of the ladies’ singles on the parallel court 1. Marcio won this eventually, but it was symptomatic that his serve was always under pressure. The difference seemed to be that Cedric was comfortable varying things and hitting close to the side lines to put Marcio under pressure and force errors. While Marcio seemed to be using an awkward but similar first serve which Cedric could move to return with few errors in the end, and a lot of Marcio’s groundstrokes in the first set were down the centre or a few feet away from the side lines. Marcio had another service hold to give Cedric 3-2, but after that, Cedric ran away with the set.

In the second set Marcio played better and took a few more risks. The score reach 2 all, and then Marco held, broke Cedric and held again to lead the set 5-2. During this game there was an odd occurrence. Marcio was carrying 3 balls, plus the one he served with, but it was noticeable that, for some unknown reason, he put both of the spare balls in the same pocket of his shorts, instead of one in each of the left and right pockets, as you would expect. During the play one of a ball came out of this pocket, and Cedric lost the point. Cedric could have asked for a “hindrance” as shedding a ball is distracting, but didn’t, although there was a discussion about it afterwards. Clearly the incident wasn’t deliberate, and wasn’t likely to have made any difference to the outcome of the game. Either way, Marcio was on a roll and took the set 6-2. Cedric appeared to be cramping up (or injured), which was confirmed when he stretched one leg against the back of his chair during the interval between sets.

At the beginning of the third set you would have expected the momentum to be entirely with Marcio, but something changed. Marcio seemed to ease up and make more errors, and Cedric got a fresh wind, which resulted in him breaking Marcio a couple of times for a 3-0 lead. This was too much for Marcio to overcome, and although Marcio held and broke Cedric towards the end of the set, it wasn’t enough to stop Cedric winning 6-2 2-6 6-2 to restore his reign of supremacy after the two year break.

Marcio is planning to move back to Brazil before next summer, so this may be the last battle between the two that we see.

Ladies’ singles final

This was between Jen Ehr, second seed and ladies’ first team captain and Rebecca Vaughan, top seed and 20212 champion and also a first team player. Rebecca is very consistent and makes few error, but doesn’t have as much pace on her potential winners as Jen might have, while Jen has a solid all round game with heavy and accurate ground strokes. Jen said she was confident if she could serve well.

In the event, it turned out that way. Rebecca was able to hit consistently anything within reach, but Jen was able to serve and return well to put pressure on Rebecca and to hit winners beyond Rebecca’s reach. Though Rebecca won a game when 2 down in the second set, Jen won 6-0 6-1, which is Jen’s first West Heath Tournament win at the second attempt at the singles!

Men’s doubles final

After a marathon three set men’s singles final, this was contested between the fourth seeds, Joseph Rigal & Alex Vallmajor, and the third seeds, Will Maslen & Cedric de la Chaise. Joseph is second team captain, and Alex plays in that team, but Will and Cedric play in the first team.

Joseph has a very heavy serve and groundstrokes, which can sometimes be erratic, but in this match served almost no double faults. Alex has a very consistent and accurate serve and game, but his serve did not have quite enough pace to win cheap points. He put at least one down the line to pass the net player on receiving service. Will and Cedric have both consistency and pace.

Spectators getting a better view from court 3 with no netting in the way

The first set was relatively even, with one net break, won by Will and Cedric 6-4. In the second set, Will and Cedric were often able to take the net position against Alex’s service, and this resulted in more breaks for Will and Cedric to take the set 6-2 for a 6-4 6-2 victory.

Ladies’ doubles final

This took place between the mother and daughter team Margaux & Elena Valarche, third seeds, and Jen Ehr & Katie Baston, top seeds. Katie and Rebecca Vaughan won it last year.

Barbara Thomas did the honours as umpire.

Elena has a an aggressive net game though less dynamic than the others, and Margaux has excellent mobility and is excellent at the net with good all round strokes. Jen and Katie both have heavy serves and are good at the net and Jen has very accurate heavy topspin groundstrokes. And they are an established partnership, battle hardened in many league matches for both Oxford University and West Heath.

The net of all this is that Elena and Margaux had less difficult in holding Elena’s serve with Margaux at the net than the other way around. Margaux chased a lot of balls and returned them well, but couldn’t beat Jen and Katie enough of the time. Elena stationed herself at the net and hit anything that came within reach, putting away a decent proportion.

But it all wasn’t enough to beat Jen and Katie, who won 6-2 6-2.

Jen and Katie thus became the only top seeds in any event to actually become champions. Sultan’s record to the semis (quarter finals for men’s singles) of only one pair of seeds being beaten (and one withdrawal) to that stage looks less good when it comes to the allocation of rank within the seeds themselves. However the top seeds should normally be the previous year’s champion, so there isn’t much leeway there, and the injury to Stephen Cooke threw out a lot of the careful consideration of seeding.

I will admit now to holding an informal draw in which the early spectators (those who arrived before matches started) were invited to tick the winners of each Finals Day event on a draw slip. Perhaps it was too easy, because the majority of the raw slips contained correct predictions. Katie Baston drew one slip from the hat containing the correct predictions, but it produced Sultan’s slip. He turned down the prize on the grounds of being the tournament referee, and Katie drew Jane Boyle next, who received the £5 prize, ending her claimed run of not winning anything!

After the ladies doubles had finished, the traditional extensive Finals Day tea was served

by a special visitor

who also helped out with the presentation of trophies.

Sultan
Celebrity guest

Winners and runners up

Everyone

In the evening was the Finals Day barbecue. Thanks to everyone who brought food and drink and to those who manned the barbecue. If anyone has any more pictures of the barbecue, please WhatsApp them to me.

It emerged during the evening discussions, that Margaux Valarche and Jasper Tresidder, the 2022 mixed doubles champions, had known each other from school, as they were in the same year group at school.

Barbecuers!

That is all for this year. Thank you to all the tournament organisers, chefs, players and attendees. And thank you for coming to watch the matches and for reading the tournament reports.

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Finals Day match schedule

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Tournament report – Thursday 28 July 2022 & mixed doubles final

The temperature was a little warmer than the previous 2 nights, but not enough to avoid having to put layers on to eat outside.

Moira Duncan prepared a delicious lamb tagine dinner for the last Gourmet Dinner, but was unable to be present, so Lesley South and Marjan Denis kindly helped out with the culinary work at West Heath (as opposed to the main preparation and cooking at home). Many thanks to all those involved.

The early men’s singles semi-final match started at 17:15 on court 1 and was between Greg Lim, fourth seed, and Marcio Sugui, top seed and defending champion. Greg has strong strokes which often gain more pace by being flat (see video for serve), as opposed to having spin, but unless you get the timing precisely right this tends to result in more errors than spin strokes. However, Greg has a good eye and good timing to match. To get to the semi-final, Greg had to defeat the up and coming Joseph Rigal in three sets, of which the first two were particularly tight. Marcio really loves his tennis and had signed up for a league match later on at his other club in Harrow, hence the early start. He is a leftie with a leftie sliced serve (see video) and topspin strokes. He defeated Ed Fitzgerald in the quarter finals 6-3 6-2.

Because Marcio keeps most of his groundstrokes deep, there was less opportunity than in other matches for Greg to get to the net to win cheap points on the volley with his tall frame. and extended reach Greg played some good tennis, and had his chances. Marcio won the first set 6-3.

In the second set, Greg broke Marcio to go up 2-1. It could have been a combination of Greg’s pressure and Marcio’s desire to close out the match in two sets to get away to play the league match, but Greg was able to take advantage of it. But Greg could not keep his error rate as low as Marcio’s in the next two games, so Marcio equalised to 2-2 and the match reached 4-4. Marcio then won a quick service game, putting the both score and play pressure on Greg, who was broken to give Marcio the match and the place in the final 6-3 6-4.

See videos of serves by Greg and Marcio.

Marcio leftie slice serve

Greg flatter serve and groundstroke

In the other semi final, Logan Mair, the fifth seed, still with a swollen left foot, played Cedric de la Chaise, the second seed, as he did not compete in the delayed tournament in 2021. Logan’s left foot is still injured, having turned his ankle playing friendly doubles last Sunday, so he has been trying to compensate by hitting more powerful serves and strokes. Logan qualified for the semi-finals when Stephen Cooke had to withdraw from their quarter final match with a groin strain at 1 set all (having tried to serve it out with 3 match points in hand in the second set tie break, after the injury). Cedric beat Alex Vallmajor in a tight quarter final match culminating in an 8-6 victory in the second set tie break. Cedric has a good all-round game and usually ends up as singles champion!

The first set went all Cedric’s way for a 6-1 set as Cedric adopted a policy of moving Logan around, which may or may not have been because of the injury. Logan succeeded in stopping the rot in the second set, reaching 4 all, with points to break Cedric, but couldn’t keep the accuracy up and ended up losing it 6-4 and the match 6-1 6-4.

Logan’s swollen left foot

The next item on the schedule of matches on court 1 was to complete the (only) mixed double semi final between Posy Frederick & Logan Mair, the third seeds, and Jen Ehr & Sultan Gangji, the second seeds. This was suspended the day before at 20:51 due to bad light with Posy and Logan leading 6-4 5-3 (see the last match reported for 27 July.) The match resumed with Jen serving, and Jen and Sultan wrapped up this game. Logan was then serving from the grandstand (!) end, and it was not long before Posy and Logan claimed victory 6-4 6-4, clearing the way for the mixed doubles final to be played.

Mixed Doubles Final 2022

This was played between Margaux Valarche & Jasper Tresidder, unseeded, and Posy Frederick & Logan Mair, third seeds. The umpire was Greg Lim.

Margaux played steadily and kept the ball away from Logan at the net, while Jasper’s shots were a little more hit and miss, and included trick shots including an underarm serve that was not even noticed by anyone, let alone being ruled out by the tournament referee well after the event. Posy played consistently throughout and was particularly impressive for her court coverage around Logan who poached and got drawn wide, requiring her to move to cover well before the opponents hit the ball. Logan hit some good fast serves and shots, but also missed a few that we all expected him to put away, presumably as a result of his foot injury.

Margaux and Jasper broke within the first few games, to take the score to 4-2. At that point there was a fascinating “cat and mouse” point where all four players placed balls to probe what they saw as the weaknesses in the opponents positioning. Both Margaux and Posy demonstrated excellent anticipation, reactions and court coverage. The score reached 5-3. In the next game Posy did a lot of running to cover for Logan, but was unable to prevent the loss of the first set 6-3.

In the second set, there were a number of points where all four players were involved in extended rallies, including some volley-volley sequences, which required high mobility and anticipation from everyone – a delight for the spectators to watch. Logan tried to impose himself at the net, but, perhaps off balance, some potential winners went wide or straight back to the opponents. Margaux and Jasper generally had the upper hand, making fewer errors and consistently keeping the ball away from the net player. Margaux and Jasper won the second set 6-1 to become the 2022 Mixed Doubles Champions, 6-3 6-1.

The grass courts are closed on Friday 29 July to give them some chance to recover, and on the morning of Finals Day, Saturday 30 July to prepare them.

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Tournament report – Wednesday 27 July 2022

The weather today was again cool and overcast, leading to some dining indoors. Lesley South supplied a delicious Sicilian chicken dinner with gelato brioche desert.

Due to Stephen Cooke’s injury and withdrawal from the tournament, only three matches had to be played today.

The match on court 1 was the ladies’ singles semi-final between Marjan Denis, and Rebecca Vaughan. This was pretty competitive, with a number of deuces not resulting in breaks. Marjan’s strategy included moving Rebecca around to create an angle for an effective approach shot, then come in to volley, and hope Rebecca was under too much pressure to hit an accurate pass or lob, and it worked to some extent. Rebecca was more consistent and could win points in a variety of ways.

The match was tighter than the score indicated, but the score was 6-2 6-2.

On court 2 the first match was between Joseph Rigal & Alex Vallmajor, fourth seeds, and Sultan Gangji & Greg Lim, top seeds and defending champions. This was the only men’s doubles semi final played, as Stephen Cooke’s withdrawal gave Cedric de la Chaise and Will Maslen a walkover in the other.

Joseph tends to have a high error rate on his serve and shots, but a compensating ability to hit winners, a couple of which memorably seemed to occur under Sultan’s racket. Alex is very mobile with good anticipation – very similar to Stephen Cooke in that regard, but with less (or choosing not to make use of) an obvious killer serve. Sultan whacks flat serves down, inducing some errors and when stationed at the net picks off anything reachable with excellent anticipation, winning a number of points that way. Meanwhile Greg hits pacey, mostly flat strokes and uses his height to dominate at the net – he is very difficult to lob.

In the first set, Joseph lost his first service game, and the pair did not recover from that, losing the first set 6-3 on a net break of serve. The second set was must more fiercely contested, with more breaks, and reach 5 all, at which Joseph held and then the pair broke to take the set 7-5 to set up the Champions Tie Break (first to 10 plus winning by two points). This was fairly even at first, but Alex and Joseph started to get the upper hand when it started to matter, taking it 10-7 to win the match 3-6 7-5 [10-7] to dump the 2021 champions out.

The remaining match was the only mixed semi-final played, as Stephen Cooke’s withdrawal led to a walkover to Margaux Valarche & Jasper Tresidder in the other. Posy Frederick & Logan Mair, third seeds, took on Jen Ehr & Sultan Gangji, the second seeds.

Posy and Jen played consistently, serving and returning well, and often having to fill in the gaps behind the man. Both generally were able to keep their returns well away from the opposition net player, though not all the time. Despite his ankle injury from Sunday, Logan moved around the court, poaching in the front of the court whenever he had the opportunity, though not all of these attempts resulted in winners. He also made use of his fast flat serve wherever possible, and it was likely more effective than normal in the increasing gloom. Jen hit at least a couple of passes down the line past Logan when he went too soon for the interception.

The first set was close, though Posy and Logan got a net break to take it 6-4. In the second set, there were some brilliant points where all four players had to anticipate to dynamically back up their partners to ensure coverage of the whole court when one was pulled out of position by a good shot from the opponents – no waiting to see where the ball had been hit then starting to run for it. It is what good doubles have to do from time to time. Posy and Logan looked like they would run away with the set and match after getting to a 5-1 lead. But Sultan held his serve to bring it back to 5-2, then Posy was broken to give 5-3.

At 20:51, with the overcast sky, it was getting very difficult to see, particularly for the older players who might not have been eating their carrots! After a conflab, the decision was to resume in better light the following day.

(Picture will follow on conclusion of the match).

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Gourmet Dinners 2022

Last chance to book for theThursday Gourmet Dinner!

There are Gourmet Dinners Monday through Thursday (25th through 28th July). Various celebrated West Heath chefs (some ex-professional) will be cooking excellent cuisine as follows:-

  • Monday 25th, Rachael Gangji – Fish pie and pavlova for pudding
  • Tuesday 26th, Brian Coffey – Mediterranean chicken
  • Wednesday 27th, Lesley South – Sicilian buffet, includes chicken and a vegetarian option
  • Thursday 28th, Moira Duncan – Lamb tagine

There is space for 30 or so diners at each of these,cost £15 (see sheet), including nibbles, main course, dessert and wine. Sign up on the sheet in the clubhouse near the kitchen, or you may miss out!

Here is the menu for Lesley’s Sicilian buffet on Wednesday 27th.

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Tournament report – Tuesday 26 July 2022

The weather was a little colder than it has been, and the Gourmet diners mostly had jackets on. Brian prepared a sumptuous Mediterranean chicken and fruit compote, which went down very well indeed. The boost of the night was when a further tray of chicken pieces was produced after everyone thought seconds was finished!

On grass court 1, the first ladies singles semi-final was between Elena Valarche and Jen Ehr. On grass, Elena always prefers to play her tennis from the net, and so it proved today. Jen has good and, more importantly today, accurate ground strokes and a heavy serve.

The match thus tended to consist either of Jen serving, putting Elena under pressure, and moving her off centre enough to hit a winner, or of Elena hitting an approach shot and being passed by Jen either to the left or the right. Elena won points, but no games, for a 6-0 6-0 victory to Jen. Elena asked for another jumping photo, this time with knee kicks to get further off from the ground, and Jen was happy to oblige.

Surely a record height for a West Heath tournament photo!

The second ladies’ doubles semi-final was then played between seasoned campaigners Marjan Denis & Ros Norkett, the fourth seeds, and the first team “under 30s” Jen Ehr & Katie Baston, the top seeds. Marjan and Ros have dependable strokes, but not the consistency and organisation of Jen and Katie. Jen often issues tactical commands such as “net” during play to ensure the pair present the strongest formation. However, neither of the top seeds were on top form for this particular match, so Marjan and Ros won a lot of points. That included just about every point I followed whenever it was safe to take your eyes off the close men’s singles on court 2. Marjan and Ros got to a number of deuces, and Katie lost her serve in the first set. But, surprisingly from my random sample of points, yet unsurprisingly from the form and rankings, Jen and Katie won the match 6-1 6-0.

The final men’s singles quarter final was between Logan Mair, seventh seed, and Stephen Cooke, third seed. Both have big serves and groundstrokes, though Stephen’s are more standard than Logan’s. There were a number of service winners, and some more extended rallies where both were jockeying for court position to hit a winner. However, Stephen has longer legs and can get to and return some shots you really think he has no right to reach!

In the first set, Logan started serving. Stephen secured a break around half way through the set, and held on to it until he reached set point. During this rally Stephen slipped when running to reach a short high ball down the centre of the court, and ended up on his backside. He attempted to play the ball from on the ground and just got his racket to it with a fairly feeble shot, whereupon it landed on top of net and just dribbled over to Logan’s side for a winner to take the set 6-4.

In the second set, Logan came into his own and broke Stephen mid set, getting to a 5-2 lead. Stephen fought back to 5 all, then 6 all to force a tie break, but various observers noted afterward that he had started massaging his groin. Stephen reached 6-3 in the tie break, but then let out a groan and had to have a short break to see whether he could continue. Logan felt afterwards that the injury was unfortunate because Stephen had three match points with two serves to come and would normally expect to win from there. After a few minutes play resumed, but Stephen was immobile and thus tried to ace Logan with the four serves he had available. However, it didn’t work, and Logan took the tie break 8-6, at which point Stephen had to withdraw because of the groin injury. Logan thus won “4-6 7-68-6 retired”.

Sorry, no photo for this one!

In theory, that left the needle mother v daughter mixed doubles match between Margaux Valarche & Jasper Tresidder and Elena Valarche & Stephen Cooke. But, very clearly, with Stephen’s groin injury, this wasn’t going to be played at this time. Margaux & Jasper had a friendly eight games against Jen Ehr & Katie Baston so at least they got some tennis in, after warming up a couple of times.

On Wednesday morning Stephen Cooke confirmed he had to withdraw from all subsequent tournament matches, so the unseeded Margaux Valarche & Jasper Tresidder get a walkover into the Mixed Doubles Final on Thursday evening, and the third seeded Will Maslen & Cedric de la Chaise get a walkover into the Men’s Doubles Final on Finals Day Saturday.

To quote Sultan Gangji, “It has been a busy hectic morning dealing with numerous phone calls. There have been more actions/ decisions in the last 2 days than in the past 40 years of refereeing the West Heath Tournament!!!”

As a substitute for the report on the unplayed mixed doubles semi-final match, here is a picture of the West Heath finalists in the Summer Middlesex Cup division 3 team, narrowly losing to Harrow in the final.

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Tournament report – Monday 25 July 2022

The tournament has just reached the break point where only seeded players should remain. Sultan Gangji’s selection of who should be seeded has proved almost perfect this year. The only defeat of (as opposed to withdrawal by) seeds has been the victory of Margaux Valarche & Jasper Tresidder over Marjan Denis & Greg Lim. In the men’s singles, no unseeded player got more than 2 games off a seed in a set.

Yet there are signs that the younger players are challenging strongly. For their men’s doubles quarter final victory, 10-8 in the Champions tie break, Sultan Gangji & Greg Lim had to rely on a forehand error by Steve Yoo and a good serve by Greg Lim – had those two points gone the other way, Sultan and Greg would have been dumped out! Some of the younger men and women are improving fast, as you might expect.

On the Monday evening, it was just about warm enough to dine outdoors. After three fascinating men’s singles matches and a ladies’ doubles, Rachael Gangji provided delicious fish pie and pavlova.

There were parallel men’s singles quarter finals on courts 1 and 2 for the growing crowd of spectators to watch.

On court 1, Ed Fitzgerald, the 7th seed, played Marcio Sugui, the 2021 champion and top seed. Ed is quite a few inches over 6 feet, and has the serve to prove it, along with some powerful ground strokes to match his frame. The only question was whether he could get his forced and unforced error rate down to that of Marcio Sugui, who plays in external tournaments and now has his part 3 coaching qualification. Marcio is a leftie with a tricky leftie serve.

There wasn’t a lot in it in the first set, with Ed’s serve and groundstrokes forcing the win of points and service games, but the statistics were always in favour of Marcio’s more consistent game. Marcio got enough of a look in to force one net service break, which gave him the set 6-3. Marcio produced two service breaks in the second set for a 6-3 6-2 victory to Marcio.

In the second quarter final, on court 2, and easily the longest match, Joseph Rigal, the eighth seed, played Greg Lim, the fourth seed. Joseph is now the men’s second team captain and has improved his consistency a lot over the years, to add to some powerful serves and spin strokes. However, Greg can usually generate more raw pace from his often flat serves and strokes, which should come with a higher error rate. But Greg has excellent timing and a good eye for the ball to compensate. The match was a good battle. Both players approached the net at various times, challenging the opponent to hit a good passing shot or lob, though the latter is often difficult on a grass court with a variable bounce.

The first set was very tight, going to 6 all for a set tie break, which Greg won 7-2 after a few errors from Joseph early on. However, Joseph was pumped up and roared back in the second set, to take it 5-7. However, Greg dug in, and Joseph could not sustain the momentum, resulting in a victory for Greg 7-67-2 5-7 6-1.

My money would be on Joseph to improve enough in the next 12 months to be able to win such a tight match.

In the last of the men’s singles quarter finals, Alex Vallmajor took on Cedric de la Chaise on court 1. Alex has a strong game, but perhaps less experience of pressure singles matches on grass. Nevertheless he clearly was out there enjoying himself. Cedric has an even stronger game, and tends to improve as the tournament goes on, but is seeded second this year as he did not enter in 2021.

There wasn’t a lot in the first set, where both players made a few errors. Alex dropped the occasional ball short, allowing Cedric to hit angled winners out of his reach. Cedric got the net break to win it 6-3.

However, both players cut out most errors in the second set to produce one of the finest sets of singles at West Heath that most of us had seen. Both kept the ball long, and Alex in particular was all over the court to reach Cedric’s placed shots, hitting the ball back with pace and accuracy even when he had to hit it from 3 or 4 inches above the ground. Cedric also raised his standard of tennis to compensate, and there were very few cheap points on offer. However, Cedric reached 5-1 up and had a shot for 30 love, when Alex turned on the style, and played superb tennis to break back and take the set to a tie break.

This reached 6 all before Cedric managed a converted mini-break to take the set and match 6-3 7-58-6. Alex may be another to watch next year.

Alex forehand

A ladies doubles semi-final took place on court 3 between Anna Ganev & Penny Isaacs and Margaux & Elena Valarche. Anna is determined and Penny has a variety of groundstrokes including lobs and crosscourt short shots. But Elena has a trick low serve and is a demon at the net and Margaux has both good serves and plenty of fire power in all her other shots.

At one point in the match, Anna was heard to call out “four all”, when all eyes were on the tight men’s singles matches, but it turned out later that she had been joking! There were some noticeable rallies where Anna and Penny got the upper hand and won points, but not enough to make up any games! So it was a decisive “victory to the Valarches“!

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Tournament report – Sunday 24 July 2022

All pictures and videos used in this year’s tournament reports, including the uncropped originals, plus a few more, are available from this Dropbox folder link.

On a day, which started off threateningly sunny and hot, the temperature never made play unbearable, and conditions were pretty good for tennis, with the possible exception that it was a bit windy with the wind blowing down the grass courts towards the club house. The decent weather was just as well, because seven matches were played today, nominally one starting on each hour – three men’s doubles, two mixed doubles, one ladies’ doubles and one men’s singles!! This completely cleared the backlog of matches, leading to ideal scheduling for the second week. See the “Second week matches” post above. One of the matches was a real hum dinger too….

The first match was a men’s doubles between Andrei Cristescu & Peter Davies, and Logan Mair & Stephen Cooke, the second seeds, both men’s first team players. The situation was complicated a little by Logan’s ankle sprain, after turning his ankle the day before when on the third or fourth set of a friendly “round robin” men’s doubles game. His mobility was clearly restricted, but Stephen was well capable of running round him in most situations. Although Andrei and Peter are well capable of consistence of hitting against mid court medium paced balls, Logan and Stephen were not delivering many of those, and the challenger error rate was thus much higher than normal. This manifested itself in the five balls which ended up in the adjoining gardens due to mishits. Though two were recovered early on, and Sultan supplied an extra nearly similar ball, by the end of the match, there were only two balls available.

Andrei and Peter couldn’t get any traction on their serves. On Logan’s first service game, Peter was able to despatch two of Logan’s wide forehand topspin serves for side line winners hitting the fence by the path to get a couple of break points, but Logan knew what was going on and cut out that option. The challengers got to deuce one or two more times, but that was their lot. The pace of Logan and Stephen prevented them from hitting their normal shots, and Logan and Stephen won 6-0 6-0.

The next match was on court 1 and was a mixed between Penny Isaacs & Aaron Watkins, and Elena Valarche & Stephen Cooke. Penny is mobile and very consistent on the ground strokes, while Aaron is well capable of hitting winners, but did not feel he was playing to his full potential in the match. Some of the spectators also thought he was too gentlemanly in being reluctant to hit the ball near Elena with pace to increase the chance of winners. Elena stationed herself at the net as far as possible, and relied on Stephen to chase balls all over the court, which he generally returned with interest. Stephen also is too tall to lob easily, which doesn’t help.

Penny and Aaron hit a few winners, Penny performing a curtsy to acknowledge the applause of the enthusiastic crowd after one of them, though there was inevitably more clapping for the more numerous winners of Elena and Stephen. The result was a 6-1 6-1 victory to Elena and Stephen.

Jumping lessons are available from Elena.

Penny curtsies to acknowledge applause after hitting a winner
Jumping lessons are available, please contact Elena.

Next was a men’s doubles on court 2 between Jasper Tresidder & Paul O’Flynn taking on Cedric de la Chaise & Will Maslen, third seeds. Jasper and Paul can hit the ball very hard indeed, but often this intent is accompanied by a high error rate. In their first round victory against the Reid brothers, both had played controlled, consistent tennis to ensure the victory.

Will and Cedric started slowly. In particular, during the first few games, Cedric made a lot of errors, leaving the challengers 3-1 up with break points for a 4-1 lead. However, Cedric and Will started to get their eye in, and the challengers started to feel the pressure, resulting in more mistakes and the additional break did not occur. After that, although they were still able to win points, Jasper and Paul could not retain enough consistency to get the points to add up to games. The net result was a 6-3 6-0 victory to Cedric and Will.

The ladies’ doubles match on court 3 was between Jane Boyle & Eloise Wedgwood, and the fourth seeds Ros Norkett & Marjan Denis. Eloise has certainly improved since last year, while the other three are very experienced campaigners. Jane and Eloise played some good tennis, but their serves were always under pressure, and the other shots didn’t always go in, while Ros and Marjan were more consistent when it mattered the most. Ros and Marjan won 6-3 6-2.

On court 2, Peter Farrell took on Logan Mair, the fifth seed in the men’s singles. When he played me (Peter Davies) Peter played very consistently and produced a lot of good first serves. However, he felt under a lot more pressure playing Logan, who can whack the ball quite hard to make it difficult to time a shot against him. The pressure of this ensured that Peter did not get anything like the first serve percentage against Logan that he got against me. However, he was still prepared to chase down every ball, and battle for each point to the end, though his accuracy again suffered due to pressure not to give Logan any easy balls from which to hit winners. In the event, this being his second match of the day, since turning over his ankle the previous day, Logan was not as mobile as he usually is, so Peter won points and games in each set by sticking at it. Logan won 6-2 6-2.

The penultimate match was a men’s doubles on court 3 which turned into a real nail biter. Steve Yoo & David Hirst took on last year’s champions and top seeds, Sultan Gangji & Greg Lim. Both Steve and David have good serves and decent strokes, though not maybe the consistency of Sultan and Greg.

Steve and David both served well in the first set, and managed to break and hold on to win it 6-4, against the odds. In the second set, Steve and David seemed to make more errors, but they still broke and held early on to get ahead 3-0. But at this point, Sultan and Greg dug in and fought harder for their crown. This succeeded to the extent of winning the next 6 games to take the set 6-3, preparing the way for a Champions Tie Break [first to 10].

In this, one minibreak each was exchanged to take the score to 3 all, and again one minibreak was achieved to take the score to 8 all, but thereafter, Sultan and Greg took the next two points to take the match 4-6 6-3 [10-8]. The only real difference seemed to be the higher level of experience of Sultan and Greg in such positions, with the challengers not getting first serves in when it counted the most.

Handshakes
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Logan swollen left foot (not very impressive, I admit)

The last match of the day was a mixed doubles between Joseph Rigal & Jane Boyle, playing the third seeds Posy Frederick & Logan Mair. Joseph had played like a demon at the net in his men’s doubles with Alex Vallmajor against Gideon Stone and Geoff Isaacs, and we were all expecting a similar performance in the mixed. However, it was Jane’s second match of the day, and she has won titles in six separate decades, as has Sultan (parse these statements carefully). Meanwhile, for his third match of the day, Logan still had a swollen ankle, and Posy is a very consistent player, playing in the ladies’ first team.

In the event, Logan was accurate enough to keep the ball away from Joseph when he was at the net, and he couldn’t have the impact necessary, either on his serve or elsewhere. Posy supported Logan well. Jane played a good supporting role, but missed a few leftie shots down the line which we all expected her to get.

The challengers made more of a game of it in the second set, but couldn’t find enough winners to win the set. Posy and Logan won the match 6-1 6-3.

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Tournament report – Saturday 23 July 2022

There were only two doubles matches played today.

In the first of the matches, Moira Duncan & Lesley South took on the third seeds, the mother and daughter pairing of Elena & Margaux Valarche, supported by a rare appearance from husband/father Antoine. Moira has a strong forehand, and Lesley is famous for her out of reach, angled shots from anywhere on the court. Elena’s main strength is at the net, while Margaux is highly mobile with excellent anticipation and good shots all round.

Elena and Margaux were generally on top, but Moira and Lesley were able to force errors. Although Moira and Lesley could also move the opponents around to create gaps, they tended to miss when going for the resulting winners. In the first set, they got one game on Moira’s serve. In the second set they broke Elena and won one game on Lesley’s serve for a 6-1 6-2 win for the Valarches.

There was then an hour’s gap until the second match, which was a men’s doubles between Gideon Stone & Geoff Isaacs and Joseph Rigal & Alex Vallmajor, the fourth seeds. Gideon and Geoff are experienced players, with plenty of match experience. Joseph is captain of the men’s second team and Alex plays regularly in it. In this match, Joseph in particular seemed fired up, and made a number of unexpected interceptions at the net which produced points.

Gideon and Geoff played consistently and won a number of points with accurate placement, but generally could not match the fire power of Joseph and Alex. The result was a 6-1 6-0 victory to Joseph and Alex.

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Tournament report – Friday 22 July 2022

For a day when rain was predicted, but did not materialise, there were a number of matches scheduled and played, including one which was the upset of the tournament so far.

The early men’s singles was between Rob Curtis and Joseph Rigal. In his men’s doubles with Dan Dalton against Steve Yoo and David Hirst, Rob and his partner had played well in the second set, with some good serving, but they lost 7-5. However, it looks like Joseph’s pace and increasing consistency were too much for Rob on this occasion, and Joseph took the match 6-0 6-0.

Matt Wasser played Cedric da la Chaise, but couldn’t get any traction in the match. Cedric won 6-0 6-0.

JP Doumeng took on Ed Fitzgerald, the seventh seed. Ed’s considerable height advantage allows him a booming serve, with ground strokes to match, so JP had to force errors somehow. He was able to do this some of the time, but was on the defensive too much to gain the upper hand. In the first set, JP got one game and two in the second set for a 6-1 6-2 victory to Ed.

With matching outfits you might believe that David Hirst and Stephen Cooke were on the same doubles team, but that was not the case in the last singles match.

David beat Paul O’Flynn in the earlier round, has a good hard serve, and is capable of hitting hard ground strokes, though this comes with an increasing error rate. Stephen is the third seed behind Cedric de la Chaise and Marcio Sugui, last year’s Champion. Stephen is tall and has an excellent booming serves to match, giving David less time to react than normal. Stephen’s topspin forehand is formidable, and his backhand is solid.

During the play, David couldn’t match the pace and consistency of Stephen. He could hit the occasional winner. However, when trying to put pressure on Stephen his error rate became too high, but there wasn’t much choice but to try, because Stephen was winning the longer rallies. David picked up a game in the second set, but Stephen won the match 6-0 6-1 and will meet either Logan Mair (his doubles partner and 5th seed) or Peter Farrell on Tuesday in the quarter finals.

In a mixed on court 1, Sally Tornow & Richard Nightingale played Penny Isaacs & Aaron Watkins. Sally is a demon at the net, and Richard has a good serve and plays very consistently. Penny’s ground strokes are rock solid and her repertoire includes accurate lobs and cross court short, semi-drop shots. Nowadays she also ventures to the net at times for volleys, and is very mobile moving forward. Aaron both has strong serves and strokes, and is also fast about the court. But this had disadvantages when he tried to poach a deep ball belonging to Penny, who ensured she took it, but made an error due to the interference.

The strategy of Sally and Richard was to play on Penny wherever possible, but she was equal to the task, with an appropriate shot selection to avoid any cheap points for Sally and Richard. Aaron was able to step in to put the ball away from time to time, but generally left Penny to hit her groundstrokes. Sally and Richard were able to win points but not games….

The winning pair, Penny and Aaron.

The most interesting match billing of the day was between Margaux Valarche & Jasper Tresidder and Marjan Denis & Greg Lim, the top seeds and reigning champions.

Margaux has a very solid game, including a variety of angled winners at the net, and has recently supplemented this with consistency and pace of serve. Jasper has always been able to hit the ball hard, but his consistency often used to suffer when he did not pay attention to the tactical aspects of a point. However, his judgement and consistency have improved a lot this season. Jasper and Paul O’Flynn caused a mini upset in the men’s doubles by beating Philip and Marc Reid. Further, you would expect Margaux to be a strong calming influence.

Marjan is a solid all round player with strong serve, and Greg is both consistent and capable of generating pace out of the blue on flat serves and ground strokes. Further, he is tall with a long reach, and uses this to intercept effectively at the net on Marjan’s serve.

The first set was strongly contested with no quarter given. Margaux and Jasper secured an early break, but Greg and Marjan broke back and forced a tie break. Margaux and Jasper obtained a minibreak on Greg’s first service point, but could not hold on to it, and matters reached the “sudden death” region at 7 all. The minibreak and set then went to Margaux and Jasper.

The second set was equally strongly contested. Margaux changed tactics returning Marjan’s serve, making some returns down the line and winning a couple of points down the line when Greg moved over to intercept. Margaux and Jasper won the second set 6-3 on a single break to win the match 7-69-7 6-3 and earn themselves a place in the semis. Jasper’s only exhibition shot was a shot behind the back on the final point, which his side obviously won.

Clearly this is the upset of the tournament so far. Whether it signals a changing of the guard in favour of the youngsters has yet to be determined.

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Tournament report – Thursday 21 July 2022

A number of matches were played today, not to mention a couple of walkovers (see draw).

An early match played was the men’s singles between Nicholas Sweeting and Marcio Sugui, the top seed and last year’s champion. There haven’t been any reports on this match. But, much as expected, Marcio won it 6-1 6-0. A couple of first team players felt Nic had done well to get a game off Marcio because they also struggle to do this when playing him at singles!

This evening was mainly a mixed doubles session, with one mixed match on each of the three courts.

On court 1, Susan Grossman & Matias Piazza took on Elena Valarche & Stephen Cooke, the fourth seeds, who won in 2020, but did not enter in 2021. Susan hit some good shots, including one or two awkward lobs over Elena’s head. Matias had to do most of the ball chasing and executed this pretty well, not making a lot of errors. But Stephen is very tall, with long legs carrying him fast around the court. So he was able to reach most of the shots into any part of the court not occupied by Elena, including any drop shots from Susan and Matias, and generally return the ball out of reach of the opponents. Meanwhile, as expected, Elena got to the net as much as possible to put away anything that came close enough. Elena and Stephen won 6-1 6-0 and await their next opponents to emerge from the first round match.

On court 3, Moira Duncan & Bruce Rigal played Margaux Valarche & Jasper Tresidder. Although Bruce had only just returned from Canada, there was no obvious trace of jet lag, and both he and Moira were playing as well as they think they can. Margaux was serving well, and also keeping Jasper in order on court, so he didn’t execute his first hot dog until the last game of the match. The pair of youngsters not only have good anticipation, but also are very fast about the court.

Moira and Bruce found it very difficult to hit the ball anywhere where Margaux and Jasper could not get to it, whereas the reverse just wasn’t true. The best way to put it is that Moira and Bruce won points, but not games.

On court 2, and last to finish were Eloise Wedgwood & Charles Rubinstein vs Jane Boyle and Joseph Rigal. Compared to her 150 mile cycle ride to warm up properly before last year’s mixed doubles match, Eloise was very restrained, but has been playing early morning as much as possible subject to availability of partners prepared to play at that hour. Charles is wily and experienced. After the match, both seemed to think their partners were playing better than them! Jane was solid, and Joseph is gradually adding consistency to his power game.

In the first set, Jane’s consistency and Joseph’s pace generally put them on top, though Charles was able to win points off Jane’s serve to the deuce court with some fine angled cross-court returns out of reach, and Eloise did not make many unforced errors. Jane and Joseph won the set 6-2. According to Charles, Eloise and Charles made a tactical error in switching sides for the second set, which nullified some of the potential winners from their side. Jane and Joseph thus won the second set 6-0 and the match 6-2 6-0.

Meanwhile, Leo Colle and Alex Vallmajor decided to play their men’s singles on hard court 4, a move which I felt favoured the more consistent Alex, the sixth seed, who plays regularly for the second team. Although Alex did make mistakes, Leo was not able to capitalise on them in the first set, which Alex took 6-0.

In the second set, Leo won his first service game, but Alex’s placement seemed to be the more accurate, and he went on to win the rest of the games for a 6-1 6-0 victory.

Tournament referees Sultan and Marjan working hard to keep the grass courts in as good a condition as possible. Marjan’s exclamation was a result of being sprinkled!

Grass court 1 looking green despite the recent drought, or is this just a trick of the twilight?
Greg Lim dressed to relax while awaiting any opponent(s) at all to emerge from first round matches.
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Tournament report – Wednesday 20 July 2022

Three matches were played today – a mixed and two men’s doubles.

In the early mixed, Terry Heller & Peter Davies took on their second round opponents of Jen Ehr & Sultan Gangji, the second seeds. Terry can be a demon at the net, and Peter is revelling in his new hip (replacement November last year), restoring his previous mobility, and the opportunity to play more frequently and thus more consistently. Meanwhile, with an excellent eye and good anticipation, Sultan can generally make shots whenever he can reach the ball, though can’t jump as high as some when lobbed! Jen has an excellent all round game with the particular ability to hit awkward (for the opponents) topspin forehands to within a couple of feet of the baseline.

Although the challengers got a couple of deuces in the first set, they didn’t translate into games, Jen and Sultan winning it 6-0.

In the second set, Terry and Peter played more consistently and kicked off by breaking Jen to take a 2-0 lead. Again they had deuces in other games, but lost the critical points on which they could maybe have hit winners which would have given them more games. Jen and Sultan took the match 6-0 6-2. A great time was had by all though, which was the main thing, given the likely outcome.

Dr Heller had to rush back home for important medical consultations, so here is a picture of the winning team celebrating their victory. Please don’t look too closely at the baseline.

In the first of the men’s doubles evening matches, Dan Dalton & Rob Curtis played David Hirst & Steve Yoo with no one seeded.

In the first set, David and Steve came out hitting hot, in Steve’s case perhaps with something to prove after his loss in the singles to Leo Colle. Both have demonstrated elsewhere that they are are well capable of doing this, though sometimes the effect can be blunted by a high rate of errors. Dan and Rob took longer to get going, winning a game only after losing five in a row, so David and Steve took the set 6-1.

In the second set Dan and Rob dug in to the extent they took the lead (if I am not getting confused), while David and Steve could not sustain their pace, but managed to get back to 5 all. Viewed from the men’s doubles match next door, it appeared that everyone was cracking down good serves and the standard of play was excellent. But at 5 all, David and Steve just managed the break to give themselves the set and match 6-1 7-5.

In the second of the men’s doubles, Charles Rubinstein & Richard Nightingale played Andrei Cristescu and Peter Davies. Charles is famous for his wily approach to angled shots and placement to make life as difficult as possible for opponents, while Richard is very consistent with a decent serve. Andrei has some good, reliable, heavy groundstrokes and a decent serve, while Peter had his eye in due to the earlier mixed doubles, and both were highly mobile.

In the first set, Charles was exploiting the angles and the pair forced a number of errors from the opponents during the early games. While Peter and Andrei had the upper hand, it took them some time to settle fully to the task in hand. Notably, all their shots aimed close to the baseline were flying just out, though there weren’t enough to affect the outcome of the set, which Andrei and Peter won 6-2.

In the second set, Andrei and Peter played a tighter game, eliminating the errors on shots close to the baseline and were able to exert more pressure. Matters reach 4-0, when gentle rain started. By 5-0 the rain started in earnest, and the match would have been abandoned for a while, but the players toughed it out in the light of the score. Andrei and Peter won the second set 6-0 for a 6-2 6-0 victory, the scale of which surprised some of the spectators.

Peter had an exactly neutral day, losing 6-0 6-2 in the mixed and winning 6-2 6-0 in the men’s doubles! However, trust me, it feels a lot better afterwards to win the last match than the first!

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Tournament report – Tuesday 19 July 2022

As the UK hit record temperatures of 40.3 degrees C, which are 1.6 degrees C higher than the previous record in 2019, some brave souls with plenty of liquids to hand still turned up to play. Fortunately the humidity was low today (less than 20%).

There were two men’s doubles matches and one men’s singles match played.

The first men’s doubles was between Gavin Stanton & Leo Colle vs Joseph Rigal and & Alex Vallmajor. Joseph and Alex play in the men’s second team, of which Joseph is now the captain. Gavin and Leo don’t play regular team tennis, so are not match tight though Leo is tall and has a decent first serve. The seeds won 6-1 6-1. (Regrettably no picture)

After his exertions in the doubles, Leo Colle next had to play Steve Yoo in the singles. Both have decent first serves, and Steve can play pretty well, but it seemed as if he was a bit rusty for this match. Meanwhile Leo was well warmed up from the doubles, although presumably not as fresh, and he was the more consistent of the pair. In the first set, matters were pretty even up until 5 all, but then Leo broke to win the set 7-5.

It wasn’t that obvious what changed that much in the second set, though Leo seemed to be coming in more, including later in the rallies on Steve’s serve and Steve just didn’t get any form of passing shot or lob going. Leo won the set 6-1 for a 7-5 6-1 victory.

The last match to finish was an exciting men’s doubles between Nicholas Sweeting & Eugene Bellin vs Gideon Stone & Geoff Isaacs. Geoff and Gideon are wily, experienced players while Nic and Eugene had not played together before. Eugene has a good variety of service and good groundstrokes when on form. Nic hasn’t played so much competitive doubles, though he did play in the second team the other day. Meanwhile Geoff and Gideon are both consistent, while Geoff has a particularly good forehand.

In the first set, Gideon and Geoff very much had the upper hand, winning it 6-1. However, the second set was an altogether different matter. Although Gideon and Geoff were a break up with (I think) Gideon serving for the match at 6-5, Nic and Eugene were 0-30 up, though Gideon and Geoff levelled it to 30 all, but Nic and Eugene were not to be denied, and took the set into a (set) tie break in the increasing gloom. Had they won it, there probably would have had to be a resumption at another time, as the light was going. But Gideon and Geoff put pressure on to force a few errors and won the tie break 7-4 to take the match 6-1 7-57-4.

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Tournament report – Monday 18 July 2022

Please make sure you have plenty of fluids with you if playing on Tuesday. Temperatures are likely to reach all time UK records.

Perhaps surprisingly, given the temperatures predicted for the following day, there was only one match played, a men’s single match between Matias Piazza, a new member this year, and Logan Mair, the fifth seed. Matias is tall, with a decent first serve, and has an open stance forehand, which you rarely see at club level. But he has not been playing at a high enough standard. Logan has a somewhat unorthodox style of play, which is very effective. He can accurately whack ground strokes or serves, but also has other serves available, such as top slice.

Though he seemed to get to them, Matias struggled to return some of Logan’s harder shots, often putting the ball well wide. He had more success in just returning the ball deep, and winning rallies with drop shots, but it wasn’t enough. Although some of the games were closer than the game score might indicate, he won only one of his own service games, and that was it, for a 6-1 6-0 victory to Logan.

Next up for Logan is Mr Consistent – Peter Farrell, who got everything in the court which he could get his racket to, when he played me.

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Tournament report – Sunday 17 July 2022

Please make sure you have plenty of fluids with you if playing Monday or Tuesday. Temperatures are likely to reach all time UK records on these days.

There was a good crop of five matches today, including some very entertaining matches watched by a large crowd in the evening.

Early evening spectators 17 July 2022

The early afternoon match was a ladies’ doubles between Gavriella Epstein-Lightman & Terry Heller, and Jen Ehr & Katie Baston, the first team players and top seeds. Gavriella is 14 and hadn’t played doubles matches, and hadn’t played on grass before, which takes some getting used to, while Terry felt she was not playing at 100%. Meanwhile, Katie and Jen are an experienced doubles pair, both with decent serves, and both Gavriella and Terry had difficulty in intercepting and returning them. Further, while Terry’s strength is at the net, the passes and weight of shot from Jen and Katies did not give her much chance to hit volleys from there. In the first set, Gavriella and Terry claimed 2 games, but gained no more in the second set, with Jen and Katie winning 6-2 6-0.

As always, with a younger player the rate of improvement is always spectacular, and Gavriella’s level of comfort on grass improved considerably, both during the match and during a subsequent friendly hit. So watch this space next year!

In the evening, there were a couple of men’s singles matches, and a mixed and men’s doubles.

According to bystanders, Charles Rubinstein and Alex Vallmajor, seemed to be focusing on relaxed conversations during changeovers in a match where the tennis might just have been a subsidiary factor. Since Alex plays regularly for the teams and is the sixth seed, quite possibly Charles had resigned himself to the inevitable and was probably needing an extended breather after chasing shots from Alex.

Charles is adept at awkward placement and made Alex run around a bit, but Alex is super consistent and well capable of running down balls. He did not need to use a lot of pace, so there were some good rallies. But, once he got to a ball, Alex always had the upper hand in terms of placement. Alex won the match 6-0 6-0.

Gideon Stone and Nic Sweeting had a close ding dong battle in the first set. Gideon appeared to be on his way to winning the set when he went a break up for 5-3. However, Nic fought back to take it to 5 all, then 6 all for a tie break. Nic then took the first 6 points of the tie break and won it 7-1. Nic then adopted a wider variety of tactics in the second set, which gave him the upper hand for a 7-67-1 6-2 victory.

Gideon and Nic are scheduled to play against each other again in the men’s doubles. Gideon is partnered with Geoff Isaacs, and Nic will be playing with Eugen Belin.

In the mixed, Lesley South & David Hirst took on Posy Frederick (and supporters) & Logan Mair, the third seeds. Lesley executed a number of signature angled shots to win points to great applause, and David hit some impressive forehand winners, also to great applause. But sadly David had to force the pace to get past the seeds, with some resulting errors. The seeds played solidly throughout and were convincing winners 6-2 6-0.

The final match of the evening turned into a late night thriller, with no spectators able to tear themselves away from the entertainment. Exhibitionist Jasper Tresidder & “tich” Paul O’Flynn played brothers Philip & Marc Reid. Runner up in the singles last year, Philip just hasn’t been playing that much. As a former junior member, Philip is still our only ever and thus reigning junior champion. Marc was also a junior member, but has not been playing at West Heath as an adult, until he re-joined the club this summer. Jasper and Paul play regularly against each other, and the match was expected to be competitive, provided they could keep their over-enthusiasm for hard hitting under control.

There were some great rallies and wonderful shots. Jasper restricting his inner Kyrios to a small number of underarm serves and hotdogs. Marc was overheard to say later than his serve had let him down. The first set was a warm up for the main act, and was won 6-4 by Jasper and Paul. Mid way through the second set, it looked as if this set was going to go identically, but the Reids resisted to take the score to 5 all, then 6 all, to force the tie break. Again, Jasper and Paul took an early minibreak lead, but got pegged back until the score reached 8 all, at which point a delighted Jasper and particularly Paul sealed a memorable victory (any pictures of the hug?) 6-4 7-610-8

If it does not play immediately, click on the video above!!

Of course, during the tournament, the regular Middlesex team league matches have still been going on. On Friday, here are the third pair, Moira Duncan and Jane Boyle helping out the West Heath ladies first team, who are more typically “under 30s” nowadays, captained by Jen Ehr. We draw more attention to the matching attire in the picture, rather than the fact Moira and Jane won games, but not sets, against South Hampstead. Overall, the West Heath team won 3 sets out of 12 for 6 points out of 24.

On Friday evening the Cumberland were confident of whitewashing the West Heath men’s first team. But our heroes, in the photo below, played superbly to hold them to a 12-all points draw.

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Tournament report – Saturday 16 July 2022

To my huge surprise, only two matches were played today, both starting 4 pm and in reasonable temperatures.

In the mixed on court 1, Anna Ganev & Eugene Belin took on Jen Ehr & Sultan Gangi, the second seeds and runners up in last years tournament. The challengers seemed to have been intimidated by Sultan and Jen, and didn’t have a good response to Jen’s strong topspin forehand, which caused a number of errors, so never really got going. Sultan and Jen won the match 6-1 6-0

Paul O'Flynn and David Hirst

In the men’s singles, Paul O’Flynn took on David Hirst, who joined in October, having had a break from serious tennis for a while. Paul had warmed up with Jasper Tresidder for 20 minutes before going on court with his opponent. From the knock up, both had decent serves, though David’s serve was the stronger of the two, as were his groundstrokes, but both were capable of errors, and David’s ploy was to avoid too many unforced error. David served to kick off the match, and the first set must have been pretty tight, as David won it 6-3 with only 1 net break of serve.

In the second set, Paul did not fare so well. In the last game of the set he could get to the net behind his serve and move David around, but always seemed to net the potential winner when the point was there for the taking. It thus appeared that David played the more consistently, winning the set 6-1 and the match 6-3 6-1.

David’s next opponent is Stephen Cooke, the third seed, so the tactics he used against Paul are not likely to work as Stephen is far more consistent. David believes he will have to play a more forceful game to give himself a shot.

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Tournament Report – Thursday 14 and Friday 15 July 2022

The West Heath 2022 tournament started on Thursday 14 July.

The first match of the tournament was a singles between Gavin Stanton and Ed Fitzgerald. Ed plays in the men’s second team and is probably the tallest player in the club, and uses this to his advantage on serve, with some hard hitting groundstrokes. Ed won 6-0 6-2.

That evening there was also a mixed doubles on grass court 1 between Emmanuela Starman & Matt Wasser vs Terry Heller & Peter Davies. Emmanuela has a strong serve and can hit some heavy groundstrokes, but is not always that consistent, while Matt also has a decent serves and groundstrokes, but was nursing his elbow a little. Terry is very consistent on the groundstrokes and very effective at the net where she seems to be able to lunge at a ball nearly out of reach, but hit it over the net. Peter’s serve was going well. In the first set, Terry and Peter had things mainly their own way to win it 6-1 with some decent tennis.

But in the second set Terry and Peter were more nervous, and, at the hard court end, everyone found it difficult with the low sun down the court. Emmanuela and Matt played more consistently and served a little stronger, while Terry and Peter made more errors. At 5 all, it was turning into a bit of a struggle, but Terry and Peter managed to win one or two critical points in the next couple of games to take the set 7-5 and the match 6-1 7-5.

On Friday 15 July there were three matches played in the men’s singles.

Jean-Philippe (known as J P) Doumeng played and beat Dan Dalton 6-1 6-0.

On court 2 in the evening, Eugene Belin played Joseph Rigal, who is now men’s second team captain, and now has a job as a tennis reporter for Tennishead magazine. Both players played very consistently, but Joseph had the higher weight of shot, and, with more aggression, could put pressure on Eugene. In the first set, Eugene got to 40 love up on his service, but couldn’t convert it to a game. He tried serve and volley on some occasions, but Joseph could generally pass Eugene or hit it through him with pace which gave him no chance to get the ball back. Joseph won the first set 6-0. In the second set Eugene managed to convert a lead in points in a couple of games into service games, but didn’t threaten Joseph’s serve, so Joseph took the set 6-2 and the match 6-0 6-2.

After Joseph and Eugene had finished, Peter Davies (i.e. me) played Peter Farrell. Neither has played much singles recently. Peter D had a hip replacement in November and was relieved to be able to finally get back to playing a few sets of singles again. He generally served well and could force weak returns from Peter F and run him around the court. However, Peter F really is mister consistency. If he can get to a ball he will generally hit it back into court, including the ability to hit it close to the side lines on an angled shot. He has a strong backhand and can hit strong first serves within a couple of inches of the service line, though his second serve is weaker. Not only that, but his stamina is superb, as he does a lot of cycling, and he can chase balls all around the court. The gist of it is that Peter D had to hit winners to win points, or at least balls to which Peter F couldn’t get his racket to completely, and made a number of errors in the process.

The match was very tight, decided only by a few critical points. In both sets, the score reached 4 all and Peter F then held his service game, but Peter D couldn’t keep up the consistency under pressure of serving at 4-5 and got broken for a 6-4 6-4 victory to Peter Farrell. Although I lost, was a most enjoyable match with some good tactics going on. Nice to be back to singles.

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2022 2022 Tournament Tournament

West Heath 2022 Tournament Rules

  1. The 2022 Tournament officially begins on THURSDAY 14 July and the FINALS will be played on SATURDAY 30th JULY. If rain prevents play, the FINALS will be played on SUNDAY 31st JULY. The Draw will be up by Wednesday 13th July to allow competitors to arrange matches during the week. First round matches must be played before or on SUNDAY17 July.
  2. A chart of available court times can be booked on line 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 28th 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.
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2021 2021 Tournament Tournament

Tournament report – Finals Day, Saturday 14 August 2021

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.

“I reckon Marcio, but what do you think Sultan?”

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.

Prizegiving

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.

Runners up and winners

Barbecue

Finale

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.

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2021 2021 Tournament Tournament

Tournament Report – Thursday 12, Friday 13 and Tuesday 31 August 2021

Thursday Gourmet Dinner

This evening’s Gourmet Dinner was a tasty lamb tagine, provided by Moira Duncan. Marjan Denis supplied apricots and ice cream.

Some time after the Gourmet Dinner was completed, there was a very clear view of Jupiter (large) and Saturn (smaller) from the club later in the evening, when the clouds lifted.

During the Gourmet Dinner, Sultan and Rachael treated everyone to champagne as an early celebration of their thirtieth wedding anniversary on the Friday.

(photo by Susan Grossman)

Rachael serves wedding anniversary champagne a day early
Thursday tennis

The weather was decent. As well as one of the two ladies’ doubles semi-final deferred from Monday, two men’s singles semi-finals were played on grass, following by the mixed doubles final.

In the first of the ladies’ doubles semi-finals to be played, the second being scheduled for Friday evening, the fourth seeds, Moira Duncan & Lesley South were up against top seeds Elena Valarche & Katie Baston. Lesley and Moira are both consistent. Moira has a good forehand, and Lesley finds some super angles. Elena has very aggressive net play, and Katie has good accuracy and pace. However Moira and Lesley didn’t give up, and created some good openings to win points. This gave them a couple of games in each set. But Elena and Katie were too strong most of the time, and won the match 6-2 6-2.

The first of the men’s singles semis was between the fifth seed, Philip Reid and the second seed, Greg Lim. Philip is starry eyed at the moment, after he and Martha got engaged at the weekend.

This may be a good time to remind everyone that Philip is the holder of the West Heath boys’ singles title and cup, since the last time the children’s tournament was run was in 2006! Not only that, but Philip beat Vivek Sood in the adult event that year. Vivek asked for a rematch, and Philip won that too.

Both players have big serves, and groundstrokes, though Philip uses more topspin, and Greg tends to use flat strokes, which rely on good timing for accuracy of placement.

In the first set, both players took a while to warm up. Greg played a little better than Philip, using his flat strokes with pace to hit the ball beyond Philip’s reach. Greg won the first set 6-3.

But Philip was growing in consistency as the match went on, which put pressure on Greg. Perhaps due to a lack of singles play since the last tournament, specifically, singles play on grass, Greg missed the occasional opportunity for a drop shot winner off a shorter ball from Philip, and couldn’t eliminate the errors, especially from balls with lower bounces. Philip took the second set 6-3.

The singles events are best of three tie-break sets. The final set was similar to the second set, with Philip playing the more consistent tennis, and Greg missing the occasional shot. Although, it was a little closer, Philip won the set 6-4 for a 3-6 6-3 6-4 victory.

In the other semi-final, the third seed, Logan Mair, had a crack at last year’s champion, Marcio Sugui. Marcio is taking his part 3 coaching qualification and has been playing a lot recently, and had been rumoured to have tennis elbow. But he showed no signs of this during the match. Marcio has a strong leftie game, with swing serves. Logan can hit hard first serves, but not as consistently as Marcio.

There were a number of tactical rallies in which Logan would use less pace, but depth to keep Marcio away from the net. This didn’t necessarily stop Marcio from winning the point though.

The first set was tightly contested, but Marcio generally had the upper hand, and won the set 6-4. Marcio kept up the consistency and pressure in the second set, and took that 6-1 for a 6-4 6-1 victory.

Mixed Doubles Final start and resumption

The mixed doubles final took place between the top seeds, Sultan Gangji & Jen Ehr, and the second seeds, Greg Lim & Marjan Denis, under the eagle eye of umpire Stephen Cooke.  Both sides were up for it.  Jen was covering a lot of court, including the space behind Sultan at the net.  Greg was putting away anything high that he could reach, as was Sultan at the net.  The set was very tight up to 5 all, but then Greg was broken and Sultan held, to give the top seeds the first set 7-5.  

The second set started, with Greg holding serve.  But it then became obvious that the later timing of the tournament this year meant it was unlikely to be finished, so all parties decided to suspend play due to bad light.

The conclusion of the final took place on the evening of Tuesday 31 August in front of a small band of spectators.  Matters proceeded with serve until 3 all, at which point Marjan held for 3-4 on Jen’s serve.  Jen was struggling to hit first serves to Greg, who won all the points.  But the ad court is her preferred side for serving, and she missed very few first serves against Marjan, who struggled to return any of them.  But after a large number of deuces, Marjan eventually won a point on her service return, and Greg wrapped up the set 6-3.

In the ensuring Champions Tie Break the momentum was decidedly with Greg and Marjan, who took it [10-4] to become mixed champions for the second time.

Friday ladies’ doubles semi-final match

On the Friday evening, under a gloomy but dry sky, a small band of determined watchers came to see the third ladies’ doubles seeds , Barbara Thomas & Rebecca Vaughan, play the second seeds, Marjan Denis & Sue Ehr on grass. All the players hit the ball hard, but the soil under the grass is still a little moist, and lowish bounces made it difficult to hit with a lot of pace. Marjan and Sue went to the net wherever possible, and it was difficult to lob over them, so they put away a number of volleys.

Sue throws the ball up low on her slice leftie serve, which keeps the bounce low and makes it tricky to get a clean hit on it. Early on, Rebecca had some difficulty in reading Sue’s serve, but got the hang of it as the match went on, taking it on the backhand to allow room for an angled, cross court return.

Sue and Marjan broke, but Barbara and Rebecca pulled it back, and themselves broke again, allowing them to win the first set 6-4. The tennis got better as the match went on. Everyone got more used to the conditions and opponents, and could put more pace on the ball without driving it out. In the second set matters reached 4 all before Sue was broken and she and Marjan could not break back. Barbara and Rebecca also won the second set 6-4 for an overall 6-4 6-4 victory.