2022 2022 Tournament

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.