(Photo suggestion by Susan Grossman.)
The weather was unkind enough to make the grass unplayable, so all matches had to be played on the two hard courts. A group of determined spectators drew up chairs on the grass courts to view proceedings and nibble the various starters which were handed around.
On the near court was the resumption of the men’s singles quarter final between Logan Mair vs Marcio Sugui. On Tuesday evening Marcio had just broken Logan to lead 3-2 in the final set (see yesterday’s tournament report) when the grass got too slippery to continue, Logan took a tumble, and the match was halted. On the resumption Marcio won his own serve to lead 4-2, final set. Logan put in a determined stint to break back to reach 6 all and force the tie break. At this point Logan made a couple of mistakes on smashes to give Marcio momentum and Marcio took full advantage to win the breaker 7-1 and the match 6-3 5-7 7-6[7-1].
[James writes:] Whilst the singles battle was raging, on the other court a mixed doubles semi final was taking place, between Lesley South and James McKenzie, against Tim Simpson and Ana. Tim served first, and held to love. A feat not entirely matched by James who managed to hold, just about, after a series of deuces. The strong play and hard hitting from the Anglo-Belgian alliance proved difficult for the defending champions to deal with, as James’ shouting testified to, and the Alliance won the first set 6-3. Starting off the second set, James again made a meal of holding serve, but managed just about. After a few more games, the match was moved to the vacant court, much to the delight of the crowd. It was difficult to adjust to the brighter court; Lesley remarked that she preferred the gloom of the far court. Alas, the second set followed much the same pattern as the first, with strong play from the Belgo-English pairing. At 5-2 Ana served for the match but could only manage a double fault. Choke. However, undeterred, she mustered full serving and power mode and held serve to seal a deserved 6-3 6-2 victory. If she had served more double faults, one could say that she made a moule out of it… Notwithstanding, they progress to Thursday’s final to face former finalists Marjan and Greg.
There were also two men’s doubles semi-finals.
On the far court James McKenzie and Greg Lim were pitting their wits against Sultan Gangji and Graeme Pearson. I leave it to James to describe what happened….
[James writes:] This semifinal match was a rerun of last year’s final, although this year the fixture was played on the far hard court. Having won the toss and elected to serve, Greg started emphatically, with a deliberate serve and volley game. A few smashed volleys later and the game was taken. Graeme served from the same end, but he and Sultan were less emphatic, as they gifted Greg and James some break points. However, none were taken, with Graeme and Sultan eventually holding. They turned the screw on James’ service game, to take an early break. Despite opportunities to break back on both Graeme’s and Sultan’s service games later on in the set, the set went the way of the defending champions, winning it 6-4. The second set began after a lengthy break whilst James acquired more lime squash. This didn’t do much for Greg’s now cold shoulders as he started the second set. Quite what the precise order of games was, but Graeme and Sultan found themselves 4-1 up with Graeme serving. Always a keen observer, Sultan sensed from Greg’s and James’ body language that the set was up. However, five points later, Graeme’s serve was ‘broken to 15’. James served, and held to take the score at the change of ends to 4-3. And so began Sultan’s Game of Twenty Deuces. Back and forth went the momentum, pendulously, as neither pairing could secure two points in a row. The Enormity of the Game was lost on nobody, with all four players choking just a little bit. But in the end, it was Greg and James who prevailed to level the score on the proverbial board. Greg served, and held, in perfunctory fashion to take a 5-4 lead and win 4 in a row. Graeme stopped the rot for the defending champions to level it at 5-5. James managed the same, to leave Sultan serving to stay in the set. Two set points materialised for Greg and James, with the first going begging in the encroaching gloom. The next point, at 30-40 was a long rally with all four players in at the net. Dinky placement volleys were very much in vogue; James pushed one down Graeme’s line who, at full-ish stretch returned it gamely enough; thankfully it was pushed into the Sultan/Graeme mini-chasm and the set was taken 7-5. With the score at 6-4 5-7, the match was suspended. The deciding match tiebreak will be played on Saturday.
Following on from adopting a psychological plan in the 2016 tournament to win a difficult singles match against a top seed, Tim Simpson was working on a new approach to his men’s double match with Marcio Sugui against Logan Mair and Cedric de la Chaise (at least according to James’ post). The plan was not spectacularly successful in the first set, which Tim and Marcio lost 6-0, but came into its own in the second set which was more fiercely contested. But one difference between the pairs in the second set was the quality of the lobs from Logan and Cedric and the final result was that Cedric and Logan won 6-0 6-4.
The court was then taken over by the ladies’ doubles match of Barbara Thomas and Jane Boyle vs Marjan Denis and Elena Valarche, the match resuming at 6-3 3 all after stopping for dew and bad light late on Tuesday evening. On the resumption, Barbara and Jane played well to break and hold twice to give them the second set 6-3. In the increasing gloom it looked like the champions tie break in lieu of a final set would go to those who had always eaten their carrots. Elena and Marjan seemed to develop early momentum as Jane and Barbara made a few mistakes and took the tier break 10-5 for a 6-3 4-6 [10-5] victory.
Moira Duncan provided a delicious lamb tagine and cous-cous with sufficient for the inevitable second helping from perhaps most people. Barbara Thomas provided summer pudding and toblerone-based Tia Maria-laced semifreddo which went down rather well too. The usual suspects had a good dance towards the end of the evening (see “It’s Raining Men“), and a group around the table looked set to make it a late-night session when we left just after 11 pm……
In addition to the summer puddings and semifreddi, Bruna (of Bruna and Marcio fame) provided an exceptional, and exquisitely decorated, chocolate cake. It went down a storm, and we hope to see more of Bruna – perhaps when Marcio plays Cedric in the semi final on Thursday! Or perhaps on The Great British Bake Off.