The club’s AGM will take place on Wednesday July 21st, at 2015. More information will be announced nearer the time.
The annual Club Tournament takes place over 2 weeks and culminates in Gourmet Dinners week (August 9th-12th) and Finals Day (August 14th).
There are also 3 one-day tournaments throughout the summer.
Bank Holiday American Tournament
Charity American Tournament
July 31st – August 14th
Bank Holiday American Tournament
Please note that matches played at home will use the grass courts where available, and the hard courts should usually be free for arranged matches. However, in the event of adverse weather, the matches may be moved to the hard courts.
All matches begin at 1830 unless otherwise indicated.
On a day where the weather forecast predicted too much rain, all finals were completed on grass, viewed by a select, and hopefully legal, band of less than 30, including the players, all seated in a suitably socially distanced manner. Thanks to Lesley South, Moira Duncan and Marjan Denis for a COVID-19-free tea consisting of individually wrapped sandwiches and cakes and a cuppa!
Completion of ladies’ singles semi-final
In a ladies’ singles semi final match spanning Friday evening (on a hard court) and Saturday lunchtime (on grass), Mihika Joshi played Jen Ehr, the top seed. Mihika is now 15. Last year she won convincingly in the first rounds of the ladies singles, but then had to withdraw. She has been having regular coaching, has been playing in tournaments, and is improving rapidly, as predicted.
In the first set, after a lot of hanging around on the Friday evening, in the first set, Jen played well, but Mihika served well, with penetrating ground strokes, and was usually able to hit winners whenever she forced Jen out of position. Mihika won the set 6-4. In the increasing gloom, the players asked the referee whether they should continue. Although the initial answer was in the affirmative, the crowd soon persuaded the referee to change his mind, as it was obvious that the second set would not be completed. The following day, on grass, Mihika continued the second set in a similar vein, taking the match 6-4 6-2 for a place in the final.
Ladies’ singles final
This was played under the watchful eye of umpire Marjan Denis, between Mihika Joshi, unseeded (due to lack of data) and Emily, the fourth seed. In 2016 I wrote:
Mihika 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. Mihika 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.
After playing for 3 days on the trot Emily had played excellently in her singles and ladies doubles semis, after a two day break, she just could not get going properly against Mihika. The serves weren’t going in, and the timing on the ground strokes wasn’t right. Matters weren’t helped much by the cold wet atmosphere in which the balls were flying slower and bouncing that bit less. By contrast, Mihika resumed where she left off an hour or so beforehand, in the completion of the semi final, hitting with both pace and consistency. Though Emily had her moments, Mihika took the match without dropping a game.
Men’s singles final
This was umpired by Kevin Ryan, keeping up a tradition over many years, and played between Greg Lim and Marcio Sugui, the third and top seeds respectively. Greg had been in fine form in a very tight three setter against Logan Mair in the semi the previous evening, though Marcio’s wins were more straightforward. Greg relies on pace on serve, and forehand, from flat shots, using a lot of wrist, while Marcio is a leftie with a typical leftie swinging slice serve (when he chooses to use it), and with the ability to use a lot of topspin on forehands. Marcio slipped once or twice both on baselines lacking grass, and also on the more grassy interior of the court. Subsequent inspection of the players tennis shoes showed that the soles had significant wear, whereas the soles of Greg’s very yellow shoes were in a much better state. Greg generally handled Marcio’s leftie slice serve well, was very quick about the court, as usual, and seemed to pick up all the low balls. Greg tended to serve to Marcio’s backhand (right hand side), and tried to manoeuver Marcio into creating a gap into which Greg could hit a forehand with pace for a winner.
The first set took quite a while, with breaks exchanged, and reached 6 all, whereupon Kevin called for the tie break. Marcio was up a mini break at one point, but Greg won it back and proceeded to take the set 7-6 7-5. In a similarly lengthy second set it appeared as if Greg had the momentum, and Marcio seemed to be playing into Greg’s hands by returning the ball down the centre of the court, not always obtaining the depth he wanted, and at times seeming tentative. A few slips on the grass cost Marcio a similar number of points, but he hung in there, and took the set to a tie break. This tie break was all Marcio, for a 7-67-1 set. In the third set Marcio started to play much more positively, going for cross court and other winners whenever there was a gap, and generally making them. As the match entered its third hour Greg was unable to match the step up in form, and Marcio finally emerged as Men’s Singles Champion 2020 to win 6-75-7. 7-67-1 6-1.
As Marcio put it before the match, in the unusual absence of Cedric, who was having to quarantine after a trip abroad, it is “now or never”, if Marcio ever wanted to be club singles champion. Marcio said afterwards, “I felt I was very close to losing today, for another year, but lockdown helped me to remain focused”. Meanwhile here’s a little counting exercise Marcio recommends to keep your mind clear and focussed.
Given that this match took nearly 2 hours 30 minutes, during which both the ladies singles and doubles finals had completed, Sultan Gangji then declared it to be tea time (no need to wait for the men’s doubles final to complete too).
Ladies’ doubles final
This event, umpired by Barbara Thomas, featured the first of two mother and daughter finals clashes. The last minute partnership of Margaux Valarche & Jane Boyle, were taking on Elena Valarche & Emily, the top seeds. Although Margaux’s serve wasn’t going that well, the rest of her game is on form, and particularly the “artistic” touch volleys, where feasible, which make such extreme use of the angles that no one reaches them, not to mention the good technique on the forehand in the picture. Meanwhile, Elena rarely double faults on serve, always keeps it low – difficult to pick up on a grass court, and generally comes to the net wherever possible, and sometimes, even when it isn’t! Emily was playing a little better than earlier in the day, and Jane was pretty solid on her sliced shots. Although Jane generally left most of the running to the more than fleet footed Margaux, she did do a bit of running herself – running back to cover a lob over Margaux’s head being one notable instance.
The first set was more competitive, but Jane and Margaux took it 6-4. The top seeds fared less well in the second, to give Jane and Margaux a 6-4 6-2 victory. So the daughter triumphed in the ladies’ doubles. What about the mixed? You’ll have to wait to see, unless you were there.
It is noteworthy that Jane Boyle has now been a tournament champion in at least one event at West Heath, in six decades – seventies (from 1974), eighties, nineties, noughties, tens and twenties (2020). See the Champions web page. And, you know what? She is not the only one!! More on that later.
Men’s double final
Umpired by James McKenzie, this featured the second seed, Logan Mair & Tim Simpson, against the top seeds Greg Lim & Sultan Gangji, and, having been dumped out of the men’s singles by Greg against the seedings, was an opportunity for Logan to set matters straight. However, generally Logan and Tim were making more errors that Sultan, and, in particular Greg. After one particular game in which Sultan won his serve in a straightforward way, often with returns which Greg found easy to put away at the net, Logan and Tim hatched a plot to use very wide, angled, cross court returns on his serve on both wings to force Sultan to stretch wide with little time to hit an accurate ball, allowing Logan and Tim to put away volleys. This worked well the first time, to break Sultan, but Tim and Logan didn’t keep it up the next time around. Generally Sultan poached around the net and Greg hit anything in sight as hard as he could into the most inconvenient place for Tim and Logan. The match was quite tight, but the top seeds always had a slight edge, and took it 6-4 6-4.
So Logan fell to Greg a second time, though Logan and Margaux Valarche did dump him and his partner out of the mixed.
Further, Sultan became the second player at West Heath, after Jane Boyle, mentioned above, to be a tournament champion at West Heath in at least one event over six decades – seventies (from 1976 – men’s singles champion), eighties, nineties, noughties tens, and now twenties! Congratulations to the pair of them. See the Champions web page. The late Joris Fletcher was the one that came up with this factoid, though relating to only five decades!
Mixed doubles final
Under the umpire, Jen Ehr, this was contested between the fourth seeds, Elena Valarche & Stephen Cooke, and the third seeds, Margaux Valarche & Logan Mair. This was round two of mother versus daughter, Margaux, the daughter, getting the upper hand in the ladies’ doubles. It ended up being very highly competitive and going to the wire. Sometimes the match seemed to be Stephen on one side versus Margaux and Logan on the other, though when Elena did intervene to hit the ball, she generally put it away for a winner, which helped considerably. In the first set, Margaux and Logan mainly had it all their own way, winning it 6-2. Matters weren’t so straightforward thereafter. In the second set, Margaux and Logan were a break up towards the end, and serving for the match, which looked like it would be theirs (since Elena and Stephen had to break, with the set tie break, and then the Champions tie break to prevail. Elena and Stephen did indeed break back to take the set to 6 all.
In the normal set tie break I believe Margaux and Logan had a mini break, but couldn’t hold on to it. Then at 5 all, Elena and Stephen won a crucial minibreak, and held a service point to take the tie break 7-5. In the ensuing Champions Tie Break (first to ten), Logan and Margaux were 8-3 up, but Elena and Stephen pulled it back to 10 all. Elena and Stephen then took the first point on serve. Then we had the point in this video where Logan unwisely let a deep lob bounce and couldn’t get his racket to the ball before it hit the back netting. Elena and Stephen won 2-6 7-67-5 [12-10], mother beating daughter to achieve “honours even” in the dual doubles finals clashes. Elena asked me to say that, when not playing tennis (seemingly most of the time), she is an NHS doctor. Hopefully she manages to fit in some time with her husband Antoine too.
We were very lucky to get a tournament at all, in this year of COVID-19. Let’s hope that a successful vaccine is produced and that, next year we don’t have to socially distance and the 2021 tournament can get back to normal. One aim of mine for next year will be to take at least one picture of Logan without his hands on his hips!
Thanks to Sultan for the organisation, to Sultan and Marjan for the tournament refereeing, to all those taking part (numbers were down a little, due to the timing and other factors but we still had a decent entry in each event), to the spectators (numerous, but fortunately not numerous enough to break any rules), and to Lesley, Moira and Marjan for the COVID-safe finals day tea. And, perhaps, to the weather, for holding off a few times when the forecast was predicting no tennis could be played.
Although the forecast was for more than a 50% chance of rain, the weather held off from 5 pm onwards. There were a set of determined and socially distanced (where necessary), if often freezing cold spectators watching.
The men’s singles semi final match between Logan Mair and Greg Lim was always going to be a humdinger. Matters kicked off at 5 pm when the tournament referee declared the grass court officially ‘playable’ even though the baselines were damp enough to cause a slip if a player tried to accelerate too fast off them. The matter was of some importance, because Greg’s play is based on accurate timing to generate pace on flat shots, and this isn’t so easy if the ball keeps low and frequent suspect bounces don’t position the ball where you are expecting it to be. Whereas you would expect Logan to be able to keep the ball low on grass to give Greg less to hit with his devastating flat forehand pace. After a short discussion Logan accepted the inevitable, which is that the semi was always going to be played on the hard courts.
On hard courts, Logan had to play a more tactical game. Because Greg was always going to get good bounces, and can return a pacy ball on the forehand with interest, Logan rarely used pace, though his shots weren’t moon balls. The disadvantage was he didn’t have his eye in to hit with pace if there was an opening to hit a winner. In any case, Greg is very fast about the court, with good anticipation, and it is difficult to put the ball out of his reach on the slower hard courts. Logan also mainly kept the ball on Greg’s weaker, though consistent, backhand. At first, Greg tried to circumvent this by running round a natural backhand to hit the ball on his forehand, but his error rate was much higher when he tried this, and he used it less as time went on. Logan’s errors came when Greg forced him to hit shots requiring pinpoint accuracy when on the run and under pressure.
The match thus turned into a war of attrition, with long rallies, since both players generally made few unforced errors and could often put the ball very close to the opponent’s baseline. A number of Greg’s points were from forehand, smash or volley winners, but he also made more errors, while Logan hit fewer winners while also making fewer errors. Generally he was trying to sap Greg’s patience and force Greg to take risks leading to errors.
Logan won the first set 7-5. In a very tight second set Logan fell behind, but had chances to break back. On fine margins Greg won it 6-4. The third set was more difficult, as the light was going, and matters were getting more tense. Greg’s pace on the forehand dropped off as it got more gloomy, and Logan eventually made a few mistakes in long rallies to allow Greg a 5-7 6-4 6-4 victory. The match lasted for 2 hours 30 minutes.
On court 5 there was a men’s singles semi final between Stephen Cooke and Marcio Sugui. We were all hoping for a very interesting confrontation. Marcio’s swinging leftie serve and heavy spin shots were to be matched against Stephen’s height, reach, booming serves and forehands, and his generally crisp volleying.
Marcio won the first game on his serve. In the second game, at one point, it was clear to the onlookers that Stephen had pulled a muscle in his left leg. Although he carried on, this changed the strategy for the match quite considerably. Instead of running round the court at speed, as he had done in the mixed doubles semi final, Stephen now needed to shorten the points by hitting harder and hitting winners, while Marcio aimed to hit drop shots and get him to run wide. Stephen’s strategy worked to some extent. He won 3 games in the first set, but Marcio took it 6-3. Stephen then broke Marcio in the second game of the second set to establish a 3-0 lead, including some fine serving. But, with the injury, he often made errors on otherwise routine balls, while, sometimes deciding it wasn’t worth running for other balls he could normally have reached. Marcio not only played well, but also took advantage to take the next six games in a row for a 6-3 6-3 victory.
The last ladies single semi final between Mihika Joshi and Jen Ehr (top seed) was also started on the hard courts, but abandoned due to poor light after Mihika won the first set 6-4. More on this when it is completed as a preliminary game to the Finals.
Only one set was played on Tuesday before rain washed everything out. Five matches were thus played on Wednesday.
During Wednesday afternoon, Moira Duncan & Lesley South played Jane Boyle & Margaux Valarche, the fourth seeds, on grass. Margaux was a late replacement as Jane’s original partner had to withdraw, resulting in a revoke of a previously awarded walkover for Moira and Lesley, who would otherwise have ended up in the final without playing a match. This would probably not be within the spirit of the West Heath tournament!
Although Jane regarded Moira and Lesley as tricky opponents, after a short knock up, Lesley and Moira got off to a very poor start, losing the first four games, but then holding and breaking Margaux to win the next three games. The see saw then swung again and the seeds took the next two games to take the set 6-3. In the second set, Jane and Margaux were rather steadier than the challengers, and Margaux distinguished herself at the net with her trademark angled volleys, resulting in only one game for the challengers and a 6-3 6-1 victory for Jane and Margaux. As Becca Vaughan picked up an injury elsewhere, after she and Jen Ehr won their first match, Jane and Margaux are now through to the final.
In the first of the ladies singles semi finals, Emily played Marjan Denis on grass, fourth vs second seeds. Emily is a leftie, and has been getting better and better throughout the tournament. She has has a classical service technique and has been timing the serve well to take advantage of her height and get a decent pace. And she gives herself plenty of space on the groundstrokes. Both players played well, within the constraints of the frequent, poor, grass court bounces, and both made some mistakes, but Emily was able to create situations from which she could hit winners, and this proved key. Emily won 6-2 6-0.
In the men’s doubles on grass, the fourth seeds, Stephen Cooke & Steve Yoo were hoping to upset the top seeds, Sultan Gangji & Greg Lim. But in this match, Greg was playing particularly well, timing his serves and flatish groundstrokes to perfection. Sultan was playing a solid supporting role, and his mobility was pretty good, particularly compared with his pre-hip op days. Stephen and Steve hit some solid services, but seemed to lose out on the tactical battle for the net. Stephen and Steve were also hitting the ball very well, and the significant differences were probably tactical. I felt that Stephen could have gone for more passing shots down the lines, on service returns or during cross court rallies, to pick up a few cheap points and keep the opposing net players honest – there was quite a bit of edging towards the centre line going on from the opposition server’s net partner. This would have required the odd pressing short – low over the net with topspin to bring it down into the tram lines without giving the net player much leeway, even if he got there. Greg also feeds off pace with a bit of height, and Stephen’s deep accurate, topspin, crosscourt forehands might have given him more opportunities than having to scrabble around near the ground to pick up more low, short balls.
In the first set the score reach 3 all, but then Sultan and Greg won the last three games to take the first set 6-3. They went on to win the first three games of the second set, thus winning six games in a row. The Steve’s stopped the rot to hold twice, and Sultan served the vital seventh game at 4-2 up under a lot of pressure. This was a very tight game and probably a set decider. It must have had ten or a dozen deuces. Sultan and Greg finally managed to close it out and, with the next two games going with serve, win the set 6-3 for a 6-3 6-3 victory.
On Tuesday, the mixed doubles semi final started on hard court 4 between Logan Mair & Margaux Valarche and Marjan Denis & Greg Lim, the third and top seeds respectively. With perfect bounces for a change, matters went with serve until there was a short rain break. On the resumption, Margaux held her serve for 3 all, whereupon Margaux and Logan broke Greg and went on to take the first set. At this point the rain started tipping down and everyone ran for the shelter of the clubhouse and walkway. As water continued to accumulate on the court surface, it became apparent there was no prospect of any further play, and the completion of the match was postponed until the Wednesday.
On the Wednesday resumption, this time on grass, Greg continued his high standard of play from the preceding men’s doubles into the first game, but could not seem to sustain it thereafter. But it was a very different kind of match. Margaux struggled to get any pace on her serve, worked her magic at the net whenever possible, and stayed solid on the baseline. The bad bounces didn’t help anyone. In the end the top seeds couldn’t sustain enough pressure to win the second set, and Logan and Margaux won the match 6-3 6-3.
The second mixed doubles semi final was between fourth seeds, Stephen Cooke & Elena Valarche å,and second seeds, Sultan Gangji & Jen Ehr. Both Stephen and Sultan would have been well warmed up from their preceding men’s double semi. Stephen made good use of his long reach and rapid movement to dominate at the net, and seemed to be able to hit groundstrokes to within a foot of the corner at will if Sultan was the least bit out of position. Jen played well, but couldn’t always hit the ball past Stephen who seemed to be everywhere. Elena and Sultan played solid games.
Stephen and Elena won the first set 6-2, but the second set was an altogether tighter affair. The early momentum was with Stephen and Elena, but Sultan and Jen improved their game as the set went on. Elena concentrated on defending her sideline and left most of the movement and hitting to Stephen, who dominated most of the court. The strategy generally worked well, though Stephen, under pressure, missed a few shots towards the end. At 6 all the tie break kicked in. Mostly this went with serve , but Sultan and Jen lost a couple of crucial points when it mattered most to give Stephen and Elena a 6-2 7-6 [8-6] victory. Elena now meets her daughter Margaux, playing with Logan, in the final.
The three scheduled matches were played this evening.
On hard court 5 was the men’s singles quarter final between Tim Simpson and Greg Lim, sixth and third seeds respectively. Greg has a very fast serve and accurate groundstrokes based mainly on timing, wrist and follow through and would be expected to get the better of Tim in a baseline to baseline rally. And there were indeed some quite lengthy rallies. So Tim at various points was serving and volleying – not that easy on the slow hard court, but well executed, though Greg was typically able to pass down the line. On various points, Tim attempted to drive Greg back, then drop shot. But Greg is not only pretty fast around the court, but also anticipates well, so any drop shot had to be perfect, or Tim would get passed. There was one brilliant rally where it looked almost as if Greg from the back was just giving Tim smash practice, but Tim was forced to smash from far enough back for Greg to scramble and retrieve to stick in a reasonably deep lob. This went on for a good few smashes before Tim blinked first. The match also took some time to resolve – the other men’s semi had more or less completed the first set in the time it took Tim and Greg to play the first four games, despite starting around the same time.
But Greg always had the statistical upper hand and although Tim won many points, he could only muster one game in each set, ultimately to give Greg a 6-1 6-1 victory and a place in the semi-final.
On hard court 4 was another men’s singles semi final between Geoff Isaacs and Stephen Cooke, the fifth and fourth seeds respectively. Both are pretty consistent players, though Stephen has stronger strokes tends to use more lower-risk topspin that Geoff, and has more accurate placement. There were a number of lengthy rallies. Stephen was often able to manoeuvre Geoff out of position to make space for a winner, although the majority of points were probably decided on errors. Again Geoff won quite a few points but, in the end, they only added up to one game in each set, for a 6-1 6-1 win for Stephen.
The ladies doubles semi-final was played on the grass between the third seeds, Elena Valarche & Emily, and the top seeds and title holders, Marjan Denis & Sue Ehr. Both Emily and Sue are lefties. This game can best be described as a see saw. In the first set the stand out feature was how well Emily was playing. The watching Logan was speculating that her service action and pace would stand up against those of some of the men’s first team players. She later attributed this to having played three days in a row. All I can say is watch out if she ever gets to play four or five days in a row! Elena did her best to get to the net as soon as possible, as usual. Both Marjan and Sue were not quite at their best in the first set, and this was amplified by the number of poor bounces that made it difficult to hit accurate shots against a pair of players at the net. Elena and Emily took the first set 6-2.
At the start of the second set, it was clear that Marjan and Sue had to raise their game to stay in the match, and indeed there were early signs of this. This forced more errors from their opponents, and led to Marjan and Sue taking the set 6-2, the reverse of the first set.
In the resulting champions tie break the see saw swung again. Marjan and Sue just could not sustain the impetus from the second set, and made a few key errors. Elena and Emily stayed solid as the points accumulated, and ended up with a 6-2 2-6 [10-3] win and a place in the final.
First, some non-tournament news. The grass court 3 net post with the winder has been replaced, so the net can now be raised to the correct height all along the tape. Further, Sultan Gangji says that the grass courts will be rolled on either Monday (tomorrow) or Tuesday to eliminate most of the bad bounces.
There were four matches played today.
In the ladies singles, Julia Abbot played Emily. Emily played well, though, Julia says, in struggling to return Emily’s deep shots, Julia occasionally managed to scrape a shot just over the net, where Emily failed to reach it. The West Heath non-bounces were equally distributed and there were a few good rallies as well. Julia served fairly consistently, but reckons she was out-classed by Emily, who won 6-0, 6-3.
In the men’s singles Steve Yoo played Marcio Sugui, the top seed. Steve’s plan seemed to be to serve and volley. The serves generally went in, and he generally got to the volley fine, but Marcio didn’t make it easy for him, and, in the first set, Steve’s volleys went out or in the net more often than not. Then there is the matter of Marcio’s lefty serve to contend with, and Steve struggled to win enough points against that to break Marcio. Marcio took the first set 6-0.
In the second set, Steve’s serve and volley strategy bore more fruit. He succeeded in holding serve in three games, but still could not break Marcio, who took the match 6-0 6-3.
In another men’s singles, Jeff Fine took on the second seed, Logan Mair. Jeff hit some good shots and won a number of rallies (not necessarily because of the West Heath bounce), but Logan does have a variety of serves and shots at his disposal, and knows where to put the ball just out of Jeff’s reach. Jeff could not consistently put pressure on Logan, and Logan induced a number of errors from Jeff. Logan won the match convincingly 6-0 6-1.
The last tournament match of the day was a men’s doubles semi final between Brian Coffey & Gideon Stone, the surprise victors over the third seeds, and Tim Simpson & Logan Mair, the second seeds. Brian and Gideon plays some good rallies, and created some good points, but could not guarantee to hold their serves, and could not break Tim or Logan. In fact, in the match, the challengers won two games on Brian’s serve, and two games on Gideons, resulting in a 6-2 6-2 for the Tim and Logan, who now become finalists.
We have at matches scheduled each evening through Thursday, when the Mixed Doubles Final will follow the men’s singles semi-finals (see post below), but no Gourmet Dinners, alas, as it is too risky. But bring your own food and drink if you want.
There were six matches played on the Saturday, with three of them scheduled for high noon.
In the first men’s singles match, Darius Seir played Greg Lim, the third seed on a hard court. Darius kicked off well with a game in the first set, but couldn’t replicate this in the second set, for a 6-1 6-0 victory to Greg.
In another Men’s singles match, Alex Shemie played Jeff Fine. Jeff is a wily player, with plenty of experience on grass. As in the parallel men’s singles match, Alex got a game in the first set, but that was it. Jeff won 6-1 6-0.
In the mixed, Richard Nightingale & Sally Tornow played the second seeds, Sultan Gangji & Jen Ehr. Richard and Sally reached quite a few game points, but the seeds dug in to prevent a conversion to games. There were plenty of entertaining exchanges between Sultan and Richard but Sultan usually got the better of these. The net was a 6-0 6-0 victory for the second seeds.
In another mixed, Barry Adamson & Julia Abbot took on Stephen Cooke & Elena Valarche, the fourth seeds, on grass. Elena hit some nice backhand returns. Barry has a decent enough serve, when it goes in, and it is difficult to read where it is going (perhaps he also doesn’t know). He held his first two service games, to be 2-3 down, at which point the match looked like it might have been a tight affair. But Steve’s serves proved too strong for the opposition, aided at times by the famous “West Heath bounce”. The second set was marred by an unfortunate ball which caught Barry, whom Julia claims may never now have children, although he was supplied with arnica. There were some good rallies, and the match was enjoyed by all. The seeds won a convincing 6-2 6-0 victory.
In the mens’ doubles, Barry Adamson & Darius Seir played Stephen Cooke & Steve Yoo, the fourth seeds. Darius is sometimes known as Didi. Stephen is one half of the current title holding pair, the other being Tom Tapper, who is away for the tournament. Barry often has a decent serve and some good pace on the groundstrokes, but is somewhat erratic. On the grass, Darius served and volleyed. The first game went to deuce, and the first set was more contested than the second. Darius attempted some interceptions at the net and, at some point was asked by Barry if he had been drinking, though we don’t know what the answer was. Stephen and Steve won 6-0 6-0.
In a ladies doubles, Julia Abbot & Sally Tornow played Elena Valarche & Emily. Sally and Julia didn’t get much of a look-in against Emily and Elena. Emily’s ground strokes have pace and depth, although she did serve a few double faults. Elena and Emily won 6-2 6-3.
It looks like no matches were played on the rather wet Wednesday.
There was plenty of entertainment for the enthusiastic spectators on Thursday.
On the grass, Jack Burgess played Stephen Cooke, the fourth seed and 2019 doubles title holder. We don’t know for sure whether Jack had ever played on grass before, but he commented at the end of the match that he was just getting going, on the sixth game of the second set, when the match ended without him clocking up any games.
On hard court 4, David Cohen was playing Steve Yoo in the men’s singles. Steve was concentrating wonderfully in the first set, and managed to win it 6-1. This continued in the second set, which he led 5-0 and match point. At this point, not only was a mixed doubles waiting to go on court 4, but also his wife and kids walked by to distract him (or so he claimed). The rot set in, David dug in and put the pressure on, and won the next three games. However, Steve did then regain his composure to take the match 6-1 6-3.
Taking over on hard court 4 was a mixed match involving Moira Duncan & Howard Kingston vs Marjan Denis & Greg Lim, the top seeds this year, since Andra Marinescu, who won it with Marcio Sugui last year, is living temporarily in Surrey. Howard’s service is particularly effective on a grass court, so it is a bit of a surprise he allowed himself to play on a hard court. Howard and Moira did their best, and managed to break Marjan twice. They also held Howard’s serve twice, but that was it, for a 6-2 6-2 victory to Marjan and Greg.
On the grass, there was also a men’s doubles, with Brian Coffey & Gideon Stone taking on the third seeds, Jeff Fine and Geoff Isaacs. This must have been quite a hum-dinger. Bionic Brian (hip, two knees and both eyes, apparently) and Gideon took a closely fought first set 6-4 to worry the seeds. The seeds dug in to take the second set to 6 all, and won the tie break (anyone remember the score?). Gideon has less excuse than the others, but the other three players must have had senior moments at the same time, as no-one remembered that there was supposed to be a Champions tie break at one set all in all the doubles events. Anyhow, the score in the third set reached 2 all when Sultan intervened to remind everyone. Brian and Gideon went on to win a tight Champions tie break 10-8, to provide the first upset of the tournament.
To the best of my knowledge, no matches were played on Monday. I have three results and match reports from the matches for Tuesday, as follows.
On the hard courts, the veteran mixed pair of Jane Boyle & Brian Coffey took on the third seeds Margaux Valarche & Logan Mair. Brian is pleased just to be on court nowadays, sporting a pair of bionic knees obtained in operations last year. But he is just “breaking them in” so to speak, as far as tennis is concerned. Margaux was struggling somewhat with her serve, and ended up having to serve underarm. But the rest of her game was certainly on a high last time I saw her play. Margaux and Logan justified their seeding by winning 6-2 6-0.
Stephen Cooke is one half of the reigning men’s doubles from 2019, the other half being Tom Tapper. Tom is not available this year, and Stephen attempted to co-opt Tim Simpson to assist in his title defence. However, this was not to be, which is why Tim Simpson & Logan Mair are second seeds this year in the men’s doubles and were hoping for an easy win over Marco Baldini & Howard Kingston. Marco is new to the club this year. However Logan had already played Howard in the singles, and was well aware that Howard’s first serve can be extremely difficult to return on grass – if it goes in.
Apparently, this turned out to be a very entertaining match, with some terrific rallies. And, after a few aces by Howard, it turned out to be a much harder slog for the seeds than anticipated. Tim ended up having to throw himself around the grass court Becker-style with some wonderful diving volleys to secure vital points. Logan hit “wild” (to quote Sultan) powerful backhands towards the net player on others. However, consistency and experience came through in the end, with Logan and Tim securing a 6-4 6-3 victory.
Stephen Cooke is now paired up with Steve Yoo.
Marco Baldini is a new member this year and played Geoff Isaacs, the fifth seed in the men’s singles. From the score it seemed like quite a good match, which Geoff won 6-4 6-3.
In the men’s singles, Gideon Stone played Tim Simpson. Tim won 6-3 6-3.
If you have anything to report, please email me at the address on the list, or text or WhatsApp me on 07957 followed by 199 583. Thanks. (The number is separated to avoid robots reading it then spamming my mobile number.)
The 2020 tournament has started. About time too! Unfortunately the weather was rather wet on Saturday, and no matches were played.
On Sunday, the first match played was a ladies doubles on a hard court where Susan Grossman & Puyisha Kapila took on the second seeds, Jen Ehr & Becca Vaughan, who have played with each other for a few years outside West Heath. Susan and Puyisha competed vigorously, won points in most games, and detained Jen and Becca on court for the best part of an hour, but didn’t get any games.
The other two matches played were men’s singles, involving the top two seeds, though they weren’t playing each other. Cedric de la Chaise isn’t playing in the tournament this year.
In the first match the second seed, Logan Mair, offered Howard Kingston a choice of surfaces. Howard thought the occasional random bounce on the grass might serve him better than it would Logan. At the start of the match my thought was that, if Howard could get his first serve in, he was in with a good chance of winning quite a few services games against Logan. And so it proved, though Howard also threw in a few double faults for good measure. An early service game of Howards must have had something like 14 deuces – mainly from advantage to Logan, and often rescued by a good first service in from Howard. With the help of Howard’s serves, some random bounces and a few overhits from Logan, matters reached 3 all. Howard set up a number of good serve and volley points, but sometimes seemed to me to be trying to hit the volleys too hard rather than placing them, dumping the ball in the net. Logan was also hitting his first serves hard, but seemed to win ground stroke points more consistently when he went for placement rather than outright pace. Logan took the next three games rather quickly for a 6-3 set.
The second set was somewhat similar, with Howard taking a couple of service games earlier on, but Logan’s consistency giving him the games later, for a 6-3 6-2 victory, with Howard acquitting himself well. Logan’s next opponent is either Jeff Fine or Alex Shemie.
In the evening session the top seed, Marcio Sugui, was playing Fred Davidson. Fred is improving all the time, particularly on the serve, taking advantage of his height, and has been seen to throw down the occasional ace in a men’s doubles. Having recently married, Fred’s wife, Soo Teng, is expecting their first child around Christmas, so she is not entering this year. Meanwhile Marcio has been in the wars, tennis wise. He slipped when playing on a clay court, injuring both hands, and particularly his left thumb (he is a leftie), which he could not move for a couple of days. Four weeks later he was able to play again but has been getting pain in his left elbow, as he had during this match. Fred has played on grass a fair bit this season, but, in the absence of any team matches, this was Marcio’s first time on grass this season.
Marcio broke Fred’s first service game, but Fred then held his serve for the rest of the first set. Meanwhile Fred struggled to return Marcio’s leftie swing serves. Marcio was trying too much to force the pace early on, and getting elbow pain as a result. Having taken the first set 6-3, Marcio eased off, going for blocking the service returns and consistency and placement of ground strokes. This worked rather better, and Fred struggled to take any games in the second, with Marcio winning the match 6-3 6-0. Marcio next meets David Cohen or Steve Yoo.
The Tournament officially begins on FRIDAY 14th AUGUST and the FINALS will
be played on SATURDAY 29th AUGUST starting at 2 pm. If rain prevents play,
the FINALS will be played on SUNDAY 30th AUGUST. The Draw will be up by
WEDNESDAY 12th AUGUST to allow competitors to arrange matches during the
week. First round matches must be played before or on SUNDAY 16th August.
Courts can be booked online via ClubSpark and competitors are asked to book
the courts they intend to play on.
The players whose name appears in the top half of the bracket are initially
responsible for challenging their opponents.
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.
New Balls will be provided for the FINALS.
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.
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
All matches must be continuous and appeal for bad light will be considered after
Please give your Entry Fees £3 for single event/£5 for multiple event to Moira or
Competitors are expected to volunteer to be lines persons on Finals day.
Mixed Doubles Final will be scheduled for Thursday 27th August.
The schedule for 2nd week is fixed with Gourmet Dinners hopefully.
The Joint Referees are Marjan and Sultan whose decisions will remain final.
On Friday the weather forecast for Finals Day was looking pretty dire. However, the Metweather forecast improved by Saturday morning and showed very little rain after 2 pm. Fortunately it was more or less correct. Although no play was possible on the somewhat squelchy grass courts, the rain stopped by 2 pm. The hard courts were a little damp, but were soon playable. Many of the spectators wore woollies or outdoor jackets, as it was a little nippy, particularly compared to some of the record temperatures experienced recently.
A few cute babies have recently made an appearance at West Heath. But James McKenzie refused to hold his three month old son in the umpire’s chair during Thursday’s mixed final, leaving him to entertain members of the crowd. However, 15 month old twins made use of the grass courts during the finals as a play area, taking great delight in throwing tennis balls for others to fetch, though it will be a while before they can return balls over the netting or hit the ball over it. Nowadays you have to start training team players early, and these two are progressing fast.
Before the ladies’ doubles final could be played, there was the little matter of the resumption of the semi final at the top of the draw. After some uncertainty in securing a partner willing and able to play in the second week, Lesley South teamed up with Emily, back from recent extensive travels, to take on the top seeds Marjan Denis and Sue Ehr. The first installment of the match took place on Friday evening, and reached 4-0 to Marjan and Sue before it was interrupted by rain. The resumption followed on from the ladies’ singles final on hard court 2, and resulted in a 6-1 6-0 victory for Marjan and Sue.
Men’s singles final
The men’s singles final took place between the top two seeds, Marcio Sugui and Cedric de la Chaise, the 2018 champion, umpired by Kevin Ryan. Marcio has a big swing serve which is particularly effective on grass, and the enforced move to the hard courts reduced his chances considerably. Cedric was not playing that well at the start of the second week, but his game has improved steadily since then and the hard court surface plays to his strengths.
Marcio struggled to make an impression on Cedric. Even when under pressure from good shots from Marcio, he was typically able to manufacture a shot landing a foot or less inside the corner of the court for a winner beyond the reach of Marcio. Beyond that, Cedric made very few mistakes, and won the match 6-0 6-1. Clearly he timed himself to peak exactly right.
Ladies’ single final
It was a shame that Mihika Joshi had to withdraw from her semi-final match with the top seed and title holder Andra Marinescu. However, Andra still had to beat the second seed, Marjan Denis in the final to retain the title. The umpire was Greg Lim.
It was clear at the start of this match that Marjan was a little nervous of accelerating too fast on the court surface while it was potentially still slippery. As the match progressed the court dried and Marjan was happy to run for everything. However, with her usual topspin power games, Andra was still able to hit balls out of reach. Let’s just say that, since first entering the singles in 2018, Andra hasn’t yet dropped a game, and the result in the final didn’t change that.
Men’s doubles final
For a change, this was contested between the third and fourth seeds, Stephen Cooke and Tom Tapper and Greg Lim and Tim Simpson respectively, and umpired by Ed Fitzgerald. It was expected to be a tight match, and indeed it so proved. Greg has particularly pacy shots on a hard court where the consistent bounce allows him to line up the shot. Tim is particularly strong on the volley, including both serve and volley and crossing to intercept. Meanwhile, at least based on this match, Stephen and Tom seem to have a good general all-round game with a low error rate. The switch in surface favoured them.
There were both breaks and break backs in both sets. In the first, the set reached 5 all before Tim was broken and Tom held to win the set 7-5. The second set reached 6 all, requiring a set tie break. Here the higher consistency of Stephen and Tom enabled them to win the tie break 7-3 for a 7-5 7-67-3 victory.
Ladies’ doubles final
The 2019 final was played between two pairs which included one leftie each. Jane Boyle(leftie) and Barbara Thomas were the second seeds, up against Marjan Denis and Sue Ehr (leftie), the top seeds. Marjan and Sue Ehr were well warmed up from the previous, contiguous semi-final match against Lesley South and Emily, and, the grass courts being unplayable, there was no spare court to allow Jane and Barbara to warm up beforehand, so there was an extended knock up. Sue can sometimes get nervous, but in this match she showed no signs of it. Marjan and Sue broke more than once to take the first set 6-2, and then romped away with the second set 6-1 for a 6-2 6-1 victory.
Finals day tea, prize giving and evening barbecue
After the mens’ doubles final, the grand finals day tea was declared open.
In the absence of any celebrities this year, Sultan Gangji presented the trophies himself, one of which had to be polished first.
Here are the winners (on the left) and the runners up (on the right)
The evening barbecue was enjoyed by everyone attending.
Many thanks to all those helping with the running of the tournament (Sultan and Marjan), the Gourmet dinners (Julia, Jill, Lesley, Moira, Marjan, Rachael, Lara), and all the players who have provided such great entertainment during the tournament.
This was my twentieth set of tournament reports, having put together the web site in plenty of time for the 2000 tournament. A few years ago James McKenzie converted it to WordPress, to allow non-technical people to post articles, which has reduced the time required to make posts. I look forward to entertaining you all, or at least informing you all, again next year.
All the original photos used in the tournament reports, and many more that weren’t, can be found in this link. The cropped photos actually used have a prefix “whdraw19..”.
Please text Sultan if you will be coming to the BBQ on Saturday evening and have not put your name on the list in the clubhouse.
A delicious fish pie dinner, much-heralded by the forty attendees, was cooked by Rachael Gangji. Lara made wonderful pavlovas and cheese cakes to supplement it. Many thanks to Rachael and all the other Gourmet dinner chefs for an excellent Gourmet week!
There were two mens’ singles semi finals played today, plus the mixed doubles final.
On court 1 it was fourth versus first seed – Logan Mair versus Cedric de la Chaise. Logan executed well in his semi-final match to reach the final, but to beat Cedric would be altogether another step up. Although Cedric had not played that well so far in the tournment, with all the matches behind him, he was starting to get his eye in. Logan’s first step would have been to get the majority of first serves in, but Logan struggled with the first serve in this particular match. This gave Cedric the opportunity to get on top with a service return, and, more often than not, to win the point. In fact, Cedric is also capable of hitting return winners into the corners off a first serve too. Although Logan won some fine points, the balance of power was with Cedric, whether Logan was at the net or on the baseline. Cedric won the match 6-2 6-1.
On centre court, it was third versus second seed with Richard Keep hoping to upset Marcio Sugui. Richard is a leftie and it was noticeable after his semi-final match that his left elbow was sore, perhaps from the number of matches which needed to be played during the tournament period. It was bad news for Richard, as he relies on a heavy forehand and serve to compete well. Marcio is also a leftie and has a worldwide singles rating in the 700s in the over 40 group, through playing in a number of open ITF tournaments. More than one admiring lady has commented that he does not necessarily look that old.
Marcio is fit and match tight from tournament play. Richard did his best, but, even fully fit, would not have been favourite to win. Without his two major weapons fully functioning, the result was never seriously in doubt and Marcio won the match 6-3 6-1.
Interesting fact – the average age of the men’s semi-finalists is 46 – Logan 50, Cedric 49, Richard 43, Marcio 42. The youngsters have put up a good showing in the doubles this year – the finalists are the third and fourth seeds. But when will the new guard be ready to take over in the singles?
Mixed doubles final
This was held between Greg Lim and Marjan Denis, top seeds and reigning champions, and Marcio Sugui and Andra Marinescu. Retired professional umpire James McKenzie was officiating. Greg and Marjan are an established partnership and play well together. But Andra and Marcio play a lot of competitive tennis, though not as a pair. Andra played solidly. Both Greg and Marjan found Marcio’s leftie swinging serve into the ad-court service box too difficult to handle. In the first set Marjan was returning in the ad court. Although she often got her racket to Marcio’s serve on the backhand, she found huge difficulty in anticipating the degree of swing and directing her return into court. In the second set, Greg and Marjan swapped courts, presumably to avoid the problem with Marcio’s serve, but Greg fared no better that I could see. In the end, Marcio and Andra were just too strong, and won the match 6-3 6-3.
There is one further match to play before the finals. Emily has agreed to play with Lesley South in the ladies’ doubles, and they face Marjan Denis and Sue Ehr in the semi-final at 6 pm today (Friday).
Although the weather for Finals Day on Saturday is uncertain, the plan is to start both the mens’ and ladies’ singles finals at 2 pm. Come early to get a good seat.
Please put your name on the list in the clubhouse for the Saturday evening BBQ if you will be attending.
Moira Duncan provided a delicious lamb tagine for around 30 people, plus fruit and cream for dessert, and plenty of starters, including a truly giant bag of lentil crisps!
On court 1, one of the mens’ doubles semi finals consisted of Stephen Cooke and Tom Tapper (fourth seeds) against Cedric de la Chaise and Logan Mair (top seeds). In 2018, Cedric and Lajos Szucs were champions, but Lajos has returned to Hungary. Meanwhile, Stephen and Tom were finalists in the most recent Globe tournament, and have played matches for the West Heath second team this year. So it was second team versus first.
It was a good match to watch, with a lot of fast reflexes required for volleys and other shots from both sides. Tom and Stephen played an aggressive game and were just a little more match tight than the top seeds who made slightly more mistakes. This led to a 6-3 6-4 victory for Stephen and Tom. This was a surprise to a number of the spectators further away from court 1 and who had been following the other mens’ doubles semi on centre court.
On the centre court, the other mens’ doubles semi final saw Greg Lim and Tim Simpson challenge Sultan Gangji and Richard Keep. This was also a very entertaining match. Tim was everywhere at the net, and Greg mostly played solidly. Despite Richard’s swinging left serve, Sultan and Richard were often struggling to hold serve, and often couldn’t execute when winners were available to hit. Rachael was providing very partisan spectator support for Sultan, but it wasn’t enough to turn the tide. Tim and Greg won 6-4 6-4.
The result of all this is that the seedings in the mens’ doubles were completely upset. Instead of the normal final featuring the first and second seeds, it will now consist of the third versus the fourth seeds.
Another seeding issue has come to light in the ladies’ doubles. In the 2018 tournament, Lesley South and Sally Tornow beat Jane Boyle and Barbara Thomas (then third seeds) in the first round. This year the draw was much smaller. And Jane and Barbara were second seeds, whereas Lesley and Sally were unseeded – and not as indicated by the 2018 results! This has been drawn to the attention of the seeding committee…..
Lesley South prepared a truly Persian Gourmet Dinner for around 40 attendees. Everyone thought it was superb. Very delicious with range of textures and tastes.
The first match of the evening was a ladies’ singles semi-final between Julia Abbot and Marjan Denis, the second seed. Julia does not play as much as Marjan, which would be difficult, as she seems to spend most of her time on the tennis court. Nevertheless she is mobile, with a reasonable tactical nous, has a good volley and doesn’t make huge numbers of unforced errors. And she acquitted herself well in this match. Marjan won the first set 6-3, but Julia held it together until 5 all in the second, putting some pressure on Marjan, who was expected to win. Although Marjan can get nervous at such points, she was able to take the next couple of games to win the set 7-5 and take the match 6-3 7-5.
The first of the mixed doubles semi-finals then started on centre court between Barbara Thomas and Sultan Gangji (fourth seeds) and Marjan Denis and Greg Lim (top seeds and holders). Marjan and Greg are an experienced partnership, playing many matches together outside West Heath. Barbara and Sultan are less so. Nevertheless, Barbara and Sultan broke the holders more than once, and got into good positions in more than one game, but felt the pressure when the opportunity was there and could not convert. Marjan and Greg won the match 6-3 6-3.
The other mixed semi-final consisted of Ana and Tim Simpson (third seeds) and Andra Marinescu and Marcio Sugui. The match got bumped off court 1 before it started, having to cede the court in favour of the resumption of the last men’s quarter final, by order of the tournament referee. This was not a popular decision with the players. They decided to start the match on court 3, drainage system dips and all, rather than wait or go for a hard court. Thus the eager spectators had a menu of three matches to watch. Ana played very well, often passing Andra and Marcio down the line. Tim did his best, but Andra and Marcio set out to make it difficult for the challengers, and mainly succeeded. They took the first set 6-3, and the second 6-2 for a 6-3 6-2 victory.
The most fascinating match of the evening was the resumption of the mens’s single quarter finals between Andreas Siebold and Logan Mair. The first set was concluded in increasing gloom on Monday night. At 5 all, the tournament referee insisted they finish the first set instead of giving up for bad light. The players held their serve for 6 all, and Andreas took the tie-break 7-3. And at that point they were allowed to give up.
Andreas is very tall, and has a booming serve to match and is capable of directing it to either corner without giving away which, in advance. Logan pronounced that, at well over 120 mph, and was the heaviest serve he has ever played against. The general feeling was that, with height, comes increased distance from the ground, and increased difficulty in getting down to the low shots. However, Cedric de la Chaise commented that he would prefer to play Logan rather than Andreas in the semis, because, if you lose your serve to Andreas, you may have no chance to break back. Logan claims a 112 mph serve, and has good hands, enabling him to place balls back over the net without time to play a full stroke. The consensus was that, with the one set lead, Andreas would win if he could maintain his serve. Not least because Logan now had to win two sets, whereas Andreas required only one.
Logan had well warmed up on court 3 by the time Andreas arrived. When play resumed, Andreas, perhaps, with just the knock up, less up, made more errors than the previous evening, and Logan capitalised big time to take the set 6-0. In the final set, Andreas started well, breaking Logan’s first service game to reach a 3-1 lead and holding his own service games easily with no obvious problems. Logan played to get Andreas’ booming serve back into play wherever possible and played to Andreas’ backhand with low shots. He also used topspin lobs when Andreas came in, though also executing one excellent cross court pass which dropped just in. It was very close, but Logan managed to execute sufficiently to break back to 4 all. Logan then broke once more to take the set and the match 6-73-7 6-0 6-4. The match was played in a good spirit, and both players were clearly in the zone.
A tasty moussaka (laced with some additional ingredients such as cinnamon) was provided by Julia Abbot. Jill Elek provided the dessert of Golders Green cherries and creme caramel.
There were seven matches played this evening, including one that was not completed.
At 4:30 pm the first match on court was a ladies’ doubles semi final in which Moira Duncan and Julia Abbot played Barbara Thomas and Jane Boyle, the second seeds. Everyone was a little tense to start with, ut the score reached 3 all. At this point Barbara and Jane started to play a little better, and Moira and Julia a little worse, resulting in Barbara and Jane taking the first set 6-3. In the second set the seeds played better and won it 6-1 for a 6-3 6-1 victory.
Joseph Rigal and Richard Keep, the third seed, went on court for their men’s singles quarter final just after the ladies’ doubles started. The first game started around 5 pm, was very hard fought and set the tone for the rest of the first set. It lasted 15 minutes. In fact, Bruce Rigal, Joseph’s father, set off from Richmond after the match had started, and arrived in plenty of time to watch the conclusion. The first set lasted an hour. Joseph has a heavy serve and ground strokes powerful enough to create winners on serve. Richard did his best to slow the rallies down, relying on superior consistency to win the important points. In the end, Richard took it 6-4. The second set was similarly lengthy, but Richard had more of an edge, taking it 6-1 for a 6-4 6-1 win.
Having beaten Bruce Rigal, Howard Kingston was looking forward to his match with Cedric de la Chaise, the reigning champion. Howard served well, but was often on the defensive, and missed some winners. Cedric wasn’t playing particularly well, putting a number of balls out of court, but always had an edge. Further he knew that, if he won, he would be playing a follow on men’s single match against Tim Simpson, so was trying to conserve energy. Howard mostly held his serve in the first set, but Cedric was able to take it 6-3. Howard held his serve in the first game of the second set which was otherwise less even. Cedric won it 6-1, winning the match 6-3 6-1.
In his second match on court 1, Cedric de la Chaise had to cope with the booming serves, good volleys and heavy ground strokes of Tim Simpson. Tim won a number of points with his power. He also played a (witnessed) hot dog shot with the ball behind him into the open court to win one point, where Cedric had already given up, assuming his shot was an outright winner. But Cedric always had things under control with consistency and placement, and won the match 6-2 6-2.
After the Joseph Rigal / Richard Keep marathon match finished late on centre court, Greg Lim, the seventh seed, played Marcio Sugui the second seed. Greg has flat strokes with pace generated more with a slap than an extended take back. He played Cedric de la Chaise in the 2017 final, having dispatched Graeme Pearson with a super performance in the semis. Marcio is a leftie with a heavy top spin forehand and a heavy sliced serve hit with pace which aced Greg more than once. Further, Marcio has been playing in open over 40 tournaments and has achieved a world ranking of 900 (?), which is quite and achievement. Marcio did not have this match all his way, as Greg was well able to hit hard flat serves and direct any weak to the court corners to put Marcio under pressure and win the point. But, although able to hit winners by depriving Marcio of time, Greg’s unforced error rate was higher than Marcio’s, and, inevitably, Marcio broke him several times. Greg broke Marcio on at least one occasion, but it wasn’t enough to deprive Marcio of a 6-3 6-3 victory.
Due to the busy match schedule, the men’s doubles involving Howard Kingston (warmed up by his match with Cedric de la Chaise) and Eugene Belin vs Sultan Ganghi and Richard Keep (second seeds) elected to play on a bumpy court 3 rather than the a hard court. With the permission of the losers, I can report that Sultan and Richard are claiming a record of winning the first sixteen point of the match for a 4-0 lead. However, Howard and Eugene managed to win one game before the seeds took the first set 6-1. The second set was a similarly rapid affair which the seeds won 6-0 to take the match 6-1 6-0. It was over before most people realised it was a tournament match.
The last action of the day was a thrilling match up between Andreas Siebold, the sixth seed, and Logan Mair, the fourth seed. I don’t know how tall Andreas actually is, but it must be over 2m. He has a serve, to match, in excess of 110 mph, with which to ace you either side. But Logan is no slouch either, with a fast service action which had Andreas consistently returning into the net in at least one game. Logan also has this annoying habit of being able to retrieve balls bouncing behind him, as well as good half volley technique and the ability to generate power off not very much. Both players seem to go for the lines, occasionally making it difficult to determine whether the ball was in or out. As frequently occurs on a dusty West Heath grass court baseline, it is often no problem to determine exactly where the ball lands, but determining the precise line boundary is another matter!
After exchange of a few breaks, the set reached 5 all in descending gloom, whereupon the two protagonists asked for a deferral. A hard-hearted tournament referee turned down this appeal, and the set ended with a tie break. Andreas won this, so is one set up for the resumption one evening this week.
There were plenty of matches today, and the occasional dark cloud yielded no more than a few droplets. Thanks to Jane for a couple of fine teas on Saturday and Sunday this weekend.
The noon singles match was Stan Vasiliev against the third seed, Richard Keep. Stan had previously sought advice as to how to approach the match, and the general response had been to take 20% of pace off, to go for placement, and to keep his cool. Stan and Richard weren’t around later to tell us exactly what happened, but Stan held Richard to 6 all in the first set, which Richard then took on a 7-4 tie break. However, Stan fared less well in the second set, losing it 6-1 for a 7-67-4 6-1 victory to Richard.
The 2 pm doubles match featured James Low and Steve Yoo versus the third seeds Tim Simpson and Greg Lim. It looked very much as if James and Steve were at a disadvantage on the somewhat unfamiliar grass surface, and their error rate was much higher than the seeds, who won the first set 6-0. James and Steve picked up somewhat in the second set, but could still only hold half their service games, giving a 6-0 6-2 victory to Tim and Greg. There were a few comments afterwards that the match would have been altogether different, had it been played on the hard courts.
After a suitable break, Tim Simpson went back on to centre court for the mixed, where he and his partner, Ana were the third seeds against Lesley South and James McKenzie. It soon became clear that James’ paternal responsibilities had rightly taken priority over his tennis so far this season, and he looked decidedly rusty in the first set, which the seeds took 6-1. However, this “warm-up” prepared James to play closer to his standard in the second set, and Lesley got her eye in more with some of her impossible angled shots to play some fine points. The set was more of a struggle for the seeds, although they eventually got a service break and went on to win it 6-4 for a 6-1 6-4 victory.
Meanwhile, in the parallel mixed on court 1, Julia Abbot and Geoff Isaacs played Andra Marinescu and Marcio Sugui (second seeds). Julia and Geoff struggled against Marcio’s leftie serve and topspin strokes, and Andra’s pace, though Julia, as ever, ran around to retrieve shots and both played some fine strokes. Andra and Marcio won 6-1 6-1.
In another mixed doubles match, Soo Teng Lee and Fred Davidson took on Barbara Thomas and Sultan Gangji, the fourth seeds. Soo Teng played some fine serves and shots, and Fred also hit some good serves and groundstrokes. But the pair weren’t as match tight as the regular first team players, and could not hold serve sufficiently well. Sultan went for placement and occasionally had the opposition running around all over the court. The seeds won 6-0 6-1.
The evening wrapped up with a men’s doubles between James McKenzie and Ed Fitzgerald and top seeds Cedric de la Chaise and Logan Mair. Cedric won the event last year with Lajos Szucs, who has since returned to Hungary. The challengers won some good points with fine strokes and tactics. But it must be discouraging to play against Cedric’s retrieving and brilliant returns off what looked like lost causes, and Logan’s ability get the ball over the net on the half volley and the occasional ball that was behind him. James and Ed did their best, but Cedric and Logan took the match 6-1 6-0.
And lastly, there’s no truth in the rumour that the women in the club have decided to standardise on white tops and blue skirts. Also see Soo Teng in her match photo above.
As we come to the “business end” of the tournament, congratulations are due to the seeding committee (Sultan). At this point, with almost all matches up to date, only one seed has been eliminated from an event by an unseeded player. The seeds only start to meet each other in the second week as the hors d’oevre to the Gourmet Dinners which start Monday.
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