Reporting from Ben and Liam
The Premier Division team consisting of Ben and Robert Shenkman took to the court at home on Friday evening to play The Royal Tennis Court. Earlier in the season, the fixture finished at 1-1, with LTCC picking up the bonus point as the away team. In a reversal of that score, it was RTC that took the bonus point after another drawn match. Robert Shenkman beat Nick Hatchett in a very assured display, 6/3 6/5. Ben lost out to Chris Chapman 6/2 4/6 5/6 in a very exciting match.
The result guarantees Leamington a position in the knockout stages.
Freddie Dixon’s Division 5 team played on Sunday evening against Queens Club at home. Unfortunately the team went down 2-1, but it was almost oh so different, with a match point going begging for Freddie. The team still sit top of the league, having played more matches and will hope to make the qualification spaces.
Freddie Dixon lost 3/6 6/3 5/6
Chris French lost 6/5 2/6 1/6
Guy Stanton won 6/5 6/3
British Amateur Singles
Leamington have two representatives in the British Amateur Singles Championships, being held at Queens Club. The tournament started on Saturday and both Leamington players, Tom Seymour Mead & Robert Shenkman were drawn to play each other, which is a match that could be repeated in this years Club Championship final. Robert continued his excellent season with a 6/3 6/2 6/1 win over Tom, and moves into the Quarter Finals to play number 1 seed Matthieu Sarlangue. Well done to both of you for representing the club at the highest level of British amateur tennis.
Match v Old Rugbieans
Chris Sampson captained a Leamington side to a 4-0 victory yesterday over the Old Rugbieans. The first match was an absolute classic with great tennis played by everybody all day. LTCC member Felicity Sargent turned out for Rugby, which was the first time a female had ever represented the Old Rugbieans so well done Felicity for taking your spot in Rugby history.
Guy Stanton & Rob Stewart won 6/5 4/6 6/5
Craig Swallow & Paul Brennan won 6/2 6/3
Henry Bryan & Chris Sampson won 6/1 6/3
Chris Sampson & Bill Slora won 6/4 6/4
Match v MCC
Alastair Robson has been an absolute genius in organising matches against other clubs for the last three weekends, culminating in the MCC match, which is always an extremely popular fixture on the calendar. 6 matches, all doubles, which goes to show not only the popularity of the fixture, but the popularity of the club for away players. We even managed to win the fixture 5-1 so a big thank you to Alastair again for your hard work over the last few weeks.
Phil Macdonald & Peter Mason won 6/2 6/5
Andy Dixon & Rob Stewart won 6/4 6/1
Alastair Robson and Julie Levy won 6/5 5/6 4/6
James Levy & Norman Hyde lost 6/3 5/6 4/6
John Yarnall & Chris Sampson won 6/4 5/6 6/4
Allan Morrissey & Simon Gill won 6/3 4/6 6/5
We regret to inform you all that Geoff Broome had a stroke on Friday evening. We gather he is on the mend and recovering well. We wish him all the best in his recovery.
Ben is flying out to Philadelphia on Wednesday for the US Open. As a result, there may be times when there is no professional in the office. Liam will do his best to give you all as much notice as possible for when these instances may occur.
Report by Ben Taylor Matthews
We had 52 entrants for the Open Singles this year, which was a slight disappointment as we had had 63 only 6 days before the tournament commenced. There were a few people in the draw that looked like they were playing suspiciously below the handicap, which made for a large pool of potential winners.
6 of the 8 quarter finalists were Leamington members, which we all like to see. All four quarter finals were great matches as you would expect at that stage of the tournament. We ended up with a high/low semi final with John Murphy (Moreton Morrell) and Andy Morrissey doing battle in the first semi final. Andy had played superbly to make it to the semi finals, but John’s aggression and accuracy saw him through 5/2. The second semi final saw doubles pair Freddie Dixon and Chris Kroeger squaring off at opposite sides of the net for a change. At 3-2 to Freddie, and 40-all, we had what turned out to be a very crucial point. Freddie managed to pinch it and at 4-2, the hill was too steep for Chris and it was Dixon who progressed 5/2.
The final was a game of two halves with a handicap of ‘receive 30, owe 30’. Freddie ran into a 4-0 lead, before John managed to dig in and get himself on the board. 1-4 quickly became 2-4, before a long game also went John’s way to make it 3-4.
The engaged crowd were all willing Freddie to get over the line, but also wanted to see a 4-4 scenario and a straight shoot-out for the title. Freddie regained his focus and discipline, and won the next game without losing a point to secure the trophy, and add his name to the Open Singles honours board for the second time, after his 2011 win.
John was a very popular runner-up and well done to him on a superb tournament. Freddie has made very good progress in the last couple of years, and it is great to see him continue on that path so congratulations to Freddie again.
5 pairs played in the Dalton Doubles (in honour of the Reverend Professor Howard Dalton) this past weekend in a round robin format, with a final at the end. Usual pairings that we have come to see at the club all split up for the tournament and were partnered by different members. Chris Sampson & Bill Slora looked very strong in the box, winning their first three games, before being defeated in their last match. Having won their first three, qualification for the final was already assured. There were three pairs that were relying on the result of the last match in order to get through to play Chris & Bill. After some careful mathematics, it was Adam Stokes & Bob Compton who got the honour.
Chris & Bill had beaten Adam & Bob 6/1 in the group stage, and unfortunately for Adam & Bob, they weren’t able to reverse that score or put the other pair under enough pressure. Chris Sampson & Bill Slora were victorious 6/1 in the final, which showed their quality throughout the day. John Devis & Geoff Broome will be hoping to be re-selected for future events with the winning players respectively!
The club travelled down to Holyport yesterday to play in the National Inter-Club competition. We were always up against it with the quality that Holyport had at their disposal. Unfortunately we were beaten 4-1 and did not progress. However, we look forward to training hard, and assembling a winning team for next season!
Report by Ben Taylor Matthews
The Leamington Open Doubles again was at full capacity with 32 pairs, split into 8 groups, with half of the teams progressing through to the knockout stages. By the time we got to the quarter-final stages, 7 of the 8 remaining teams were Leamington based. The last 16 and quarter final stage was littered with 6/5 and 6/4 score lines, emphasising how well everybody was playing. Rob Allsop and Henry Bryan took on Andy Dixon and Adam Stokes in the first semi-final, having both had very close quarter finals. The latter pair were very steady, finding the correct blend of positivity and percentages and raced into a 4-0 lead, and Rob and Henry could not find a way back into the match so Andy and Adam progressed 6/1.
The second semi-final saw defending champions Freddie Dixon and Chris Kroeger taking on the rising star Robert Shenkman, ably helped by James Levy. As steady as Robert was from the back of the court, Freddie was in imperious form, playing very positively and forcing errors out of Robert which we hadn’t seen up until this point. Dixon and Kroeger ran out 6/1 victors and were in the final for the third year running.
The final was a disappointingly one-sided affair. It should be noted that Dixon and Stokes were not playing badly at all, they were just simply not allowed to get into the match by Freddie and Chris who were both a brick wall in the final. They were finding the gaps very well, and picked up too many games at the start for Andy and Adam to reel in and the Dixon/Kroeger pairing were victorious and retained their trophy 6/1.
A huge thank you to everybody who played and contributed to a fantastic event. We were treated to some great tennis over the weekend and it is great to see everybody playing so well and with tactical nous. Very large thanks were awarded to Tom, Charlotte, Henry and Chris Kroeger for their efforts in making the event run so successfully, and without their contributions, the tournament would not be as fantastic as it is.
ASPECT OPEN SINGLES – 20TH-22ND JANUARY
We now move on to the Singles version to take part in late January. The entry form will be sent out to the T&RA tomorrow morning and will then be spread nationwide so this is your first opportunity to enter the tournament before the rush tomorrow. There are 64 spaces so make sure you don’t miss out.
Report by John Lillie
I am delighted to inform you that LTCC were successful in it’s first defence of the Brodie Cup, overcoming Moreton Morrell by 3 matches to 2.
We won our first three matches with great displays of guts and belief which made for dead rubbers for young Phil MacDonald, and for myself and Kroegs. Tremendous efforts were shown by young Steele and Devis (who lost their first set 6-0), Rob Stewart (who was 4-0 down against Sir Andrew in the 3rd set), and Craig Swallow, who simply overpowered (and I mean overpowered) Mark Maclure.
Anyways, the great news is that we progress into the next round which is at home on Sunday 11th December. Could I ask you all to kindly let me know your availability in order that I can pick a squad please? We will face either Seacourt or Cambridge in this next round.
Congratulations again to the team as this could have so easily gone Moreton’s way. So very proud of you all and I’m still smiling now
Saturday saw the final match of this years Thames Valley League being played at home against Oxford. The league standings heading into the match were such that to win, we needed 8 of a possible 12 sets – a very tough ask. Great tennis was played by all however the result at the end saw us secure 5 of the necessary sets. Enough for a strong second place finish but unfortunately not enough fir the trophy.
Thanks must go to Simon Gill for fantastic organisation of all the Thames Valley League matches and also to the 21 players who have played in various home and away fixtures for this league over the season.
Following on from TVL on Saturday was Henry Bryan’s Div 9 national league team, again taking on Oxford.
Simon Gill was the first man up against an incredibly hard hitting opponent in Derek Williams. Simon played incredibly well taking the first set 6/0 in a ruthless display. At the start of the second set it looked like Simon may be drawn into a power game however that thought was quickly put away and Simon continued to play a great length on the floor combined with strong volleys to take the second set 6/2.
Kevin Higgins was next up playing Chris Lintott who is a regular in the national singles/ doubles and very comfortable on the Leamington court. The match was a hard fought contest and Kevin raced to a 4-0 lead in the first set but Chris then got his eye in and looked like he had the edge from there on in. Final score was 6/5 6/4 to Chris.
The final match of the day was Chris Kroeger playing Adam Jeffery. The match was close for the first half of the first set. From then on, Chris found his groove and ruthlessly tore apart his opponent 6/3 6/0.
Overall a great result for the Leamington team which also means they qualify in top position setting up a home semi final against MURTC.
Last night saw a Challenge match between Chris Chapman vs Ben Taylor-Matthews. In the end Ben came down from Leamington and took the chocolates in a Topsy turvey match that both players will feel was great practice heading into June’s US Professional Singles.
Both players traded games in the 1st set before Chris broke the deadlock and took a 5/3 lead in the set, Only for Ben to come back and pinch the opening set 6/5. Chris got off to a strong start in the 2nd set opening up a 4/1 lead before taking the set 6/3 and forcing a decider. Multiple deuce games went Ben’s way including and important 5th game with Ben leading 3/1 he came from 0-40 down to take a 4/1 and then 5/1 lead. Chris rallied but left his run a little late losing 5/6 6/3 3/6.”
The 2016 chapter of the club championship, had Tom Seymour Mead aiming to retain the trophy that he has won since 2000. The Quarter Finals saw Freddie Dixon and Rob Allsop upset the seedings, both players playing effectively ‘above their station’ and making their way into the semi-finals to meet the top two seeds.
Rob Allsop took on Robert Frost in the first semi. A fresh Frost against an Allsop who had three sets under his belt already that day. It was Mr Frost who had the better legs and moved into the final with a 6/3 6/3 victory.
In the other semi-final, reigning champion Tom Seymour Mead took on Freddie Dixon, a debutant in the competition. Freddie ran and ran, making sure Tom didn’t have an easy path into the final, but Tom had more shots in his arsenal and won 6/4 6/2.
The final saw Tom and ‘Frosty’ doing battle yet again. Frosty strayed from his usual strategy and tried to play a much higher percentage game than usual. It was Tom who started the match the quickest, moving into a 4/1 lead. Some tight games then took place with Frosty managing to get himself back into the set at 4/4. Tom tightened up and simply made no errors from there and closed out the set 6/4.
The second set started competitively and the first few games were close. Tom then got on a bit of a roll, moved clear and opened up a lead. Frosty could not close the gap and Tom won the second set, and with that the match, 6/2. Tom mentioned in his speech that that is the closest match he has had for a few years and the crowd certainly enjoyed the tennis on show.
Before the Club Championship itself, there were two other finals in the morning. The Johnson Cup had bee split into other grades this season to give everybody a chance at playing a level tournament. with the finals all being played on Sunday. Congratulations to Andy Dixon and Chris Sampson for winning their respective grades of the tournament. Results as follows:
Johnson Cup Championship: Tom Seymour Mead beat Robert Frost 6/4 6/2
Johnson Cup B Grade: Andy Dixon beat Rob Stewart 6/0 4/6 6/4
Johnson Cup C Grade: Chris Sampson beat Bob Compton 4/6 6/5 6/2
The club has more national champions! Ian Steele & Norman Hyde travelled down to Holyport at the weekend for the Over 70’s Doubles competition. We were alerted to their victory by Norman last night, so congratulations to Ian and Norman for winning the National Over 70’s Handicap Doubles.
This year’s edition of the Over 50’s Singles tournament had an entry of fourteen which was up on last year, and we hope to increase that again next year.
The group stage saw two groups of five with everybody suffer at least one defeat. Andy Dixon, Bob Compton and Paul Brennan came through with almost perfect records. In the group of four, Matt Fattorini literally cleaned up his group, with the loss of only 6 games.
The Quarter Finals saw all three of the group winners knocked out with Phil Macdonald, Chris Sampson and Pat Salter turning the form book on its head. Paul Brennan came through his Quarter to make up the four semi-finalists.
Chris and Phil played a very entertaining match which lasted all of 40 minutes, with Chris victorious 6/5. In the other semi-final, Paul overcame the large handicap, eventually, with Pat pushing him throughout the match. 6/4 to Paul was the score.
The final saw Paul fly out of the traps, taking the first two games comfortably. Chris dug in and managed to pull the score back to 2/2. However, Paul put his foot back down and try as he may, Chris could not win enough points to get games on the board. The final score was 6/2 to Paul which is a reflection on his very good performance. Chris was a deserved finalist and tried everything, but could not put a chink in the Brennan armour.
The Camkin Doubles were a roaring success in its new slot in the calendar, with more entries than it has had in a very long time. The final saw Andy Dixon and Adam Stokes rack up an early lead and maintained a two game cushion up until 4-2. At 40, owe 30 up, the writing looked to be on the wall but Guy Stanton & Chris Kroeger dug in, and got it back to 40-all before a return into the net from Dixon let them back in. Would this be a turning point? Unfortunately not as winners Dixon and Stokes were not to be denied and closed out the next two games to win the tournament with another 6/3 score line.
Eight players competed for the Over 60’s Handicap Singles competition. Last year’s winner, Ian Steele, declined to participate, citing a lack of fierce enough competition. That meant we would have a new winner for 2016. Miles Buckinghamshire and Peter Mason managed to escape from their respective groups without registering a blemish, and were joined in the semi finals by David Howells and Bob Compton.
Bob stunned Peter winning some tight games early on to move into a comfortable lead, and Peter could not reel him in. Bob moved into the final with a 5/2 victory. In the other semi final, Miles was in imperious form, getting David Howells onto the back foot with a good drag service. Unfortunately for David, he was unable to get on top of that serve and games kept going past with Miles dishing out a 5/0 defeat.
The final saw a repeat of a box match between the two players, where Miles had Bob in trouble with his serve also. In that box match, Miles won 5/1. The start of the final saw a similar fate for Bob with Miles moving into an early lead. However, having learnt from his earlier mistakes, Bob changed his returning tactics which saw him at the service end for a larger portion of the match. In a thrilling tactical battle, Bob kept clawing his way back and moved ahead in the match only once….by winning the deciding game! Miles later stated that his legs had completely gone, and full credit to Bob for hanging in there and reversing a result from only a few hours earlier.
Well done to everybody who competed and thank you for giving up an Easter weekend day to support the club event.
Leamington Tennis Court Club are the 2016 Brodie Cup Champions! We beat The Royal Tennis Court 3/2 down at the Hyde Tennis Club to win the national championship. A minibus full of players, professionals and a supporter left the club on Saturday morning at 8:45am sharp. The team had a practice on the court in the afternoon and then settled in for the rugby. The team spirit was fantastic with everybody cheering everybody else on throughout the day. Adding to the occasion, the match went down to the final rubber after going back and forth all day. The scores were as follows:
Simon Gill & Craig Swallow won 6/3 6/3
Rick Allsop lost 0/6 1/6 (to a very handy player)
Matt Fattorini won 6/3 6/4
Hans Billson lost 3/6 6/5 2/6
John Lillie & Chris Kroeger won 6/3 6/1
The National Fathers & Sons Championship at Leamington is not attracting the sort of entry it deserves and only four pairs were invited to take part on the basis of merit. Past winners David and James Watson were stand-out favourites to win, and their first match (effectively a semi-final) was a bloodless victory over Anthony and Christopher Wilson 8-0. The latter were perhaps more focused on winning the concurrent handicap tournament.
In the other half of the draw, Richard and Tom Seymour Mead, also past winners, overcame Ed and Ben Boddington 8-2 not quite so easily. This left the final to be contested between the top seeds and the match proved to be an entertaining one for the spectators: Richard Seymour Mead’s left-handed railroad serve still, in the twilight of his career, wins points for his side and cancelled out the speedier James Watson. But on this day the latter’s father had a clear edge over Tom Seymour Mead. The Watsons’ 8-2 victory was well deserved.
The handicap was won by Anthony and Christopher Wilson who have been perennial supporters of the tournament. They won both their semi-final and the final 6-1.
The weekend began with a thrilling challenge match between World Champion Rob Fahey and World number 6 (and of course our very own head professional)Ben Taylor Matthews. Ben did us proud beating the 19 times World Champion 6-1, 3-6, 6-4.
The tournament continued on the Saturday with a total of 56 players competing for the Open Handicap Singles this year, kindly sponsored by Aspect, including some new faces from other clubs which is good to see. Players were split into fourteen boxes, in order to cut that number in half.
Early front runners having won all of their box matches were Chris Herbert, Alex Hyde, Chris French, John Murphy, Bob Compton, Freddie Dixon, Martin Trees, Alistair Hunter and Guy Stanton. Of those, John Murphy and Freddie Dixon were the only two to make it through to the Quarter Finals, meaning the other seven Quarter Finalists had all lost a match en route to the latter stages.
As expected in a handicap tournament of this size, all of the Quarter Finalists were all playing well above their station, so four ‘bandits’ were about to be knocked out.
Sponsor Andy Dixon made it through, along with Chris Lintott (Oxford), who was a Semi Finalist last year also. Both players are well renowned for their ball retrieval and it promised to provide some long points. ‘Dicko’ was covering the court like a gazelle and simply had an answer for anything that Chris threw at him. He took is place in the final with a thoroughly deserved 5/2 victory.
In the bottom half, Flo Holland had made very steady and consistent progress through the draw, taking out the chairman in the process and came up against Will Todd, who’s game has gone from strength to strength in recent months. As hard as she tried, Flo simply couldn’t get passed Will’s rock solid defence and he was able to get through winning 5/1.
The final was definitely one that you’d call a game of two halves. Playing off a very small handicap of ‘owe half 15’ (in Will’s favour) it promised to be an excellent game with two people of a very similar standard. Will came flying out of the blocks and opened up a 4/0 lead (the final was first to six). With his back against the wall, Andy Dixon continued to throw the kitchen sink at Will, and started to get through, picking up more points and pinching games. At 4/3 to Will, he managed to stop the rot and pinch a game to put him within one more game of the title. Never lying down, Andy continued to rally and brought himself right back into the match.
Everybody in the dedans got their wish, when Andy levelled the match at 5 games all, and we were into a final game. It was Mr Dixon who go the first match point, 40-30 up, defending a chase and firing a ball into the net tape which agonisingly dropped back onto this side of the net, 40-all and double match point. To add to the tension, Will then set a chase of ‘better than three’. The players changed ends again and Andy couldn’t beat the chase, giving Will Todd the championship. The dedans gave a standing ovation to both players, for a lengthy period, giving their appreciation for a spectacular battle that had taken place in front of them.
Lastly, with the weather up against us here at Leamington, the court was unplayable on Sunday due to the court sweating. A huge huge thank you must go to Moreton Morrell for stepping in and offering the use of their facility for the day. Some members were asked to cancel their tennis for the day in order to accommodate the tournament. Without that tremendous gesture, this years tournament would not have been finished so a big thank you for coming in and saving the day.
We had eight pairs again for this year’s Vintage Doubles. Defending champions Ian Steele and Norman Hyde were the only undefeated pair at the end of the box stage, and there were initial mutterings of the two of them retaining their crown. However, in the Semi Finals stage, they were defeated by Matt Fattorini & Martin Trees. They had lost their opening box match 6/1 so it was a valiant effort to qualify from that position, and they were clearly on a roll as they beat Ian and Norman 6/2.
In the other half of the draw, Bill Slora & John Yarnall had started their box fantastically, winning their first two matches before coming unstuck in a performance that Bill had described as ‘shocking’. They were up against Alastair Robson & Ian Sloan who had also lost their opening box match (to Steele & Hyde) before winning their next two and qualifying through in second place. In a prime example of ‘it’s not how you start, its how you finish’, Alastair & Ian beat Bill & John 6/2. This mean that both group winners were knocked out in the Semi Finals, and both second placed teams had made it through.
The final was played off ‘receive 30, owe 40’ and in a triumph for the handicap system, was close throughout. The pairs exchanged games to 3-3, before Alastair and Ian battled to a 5-3 lead. Matt and Martin fought back to 5-5 all, but unfortunately lost the first two points of the deciding game, meaning the 5-5 all game was a bit of an anticlimax, lasting less than a minute!
Unfortunately the Field Trophy team were beaten by Jesmond Dene 4-1. That means that we’ll have to look to next year to win the National Inter Club Division 1 title. The scores were as follows:
Robert Frost lost to Charlie Harries-Jones 6/4 6/3
Paddy Sutton lost to Charlie Harris 4/6 6/0 6/3
Paul Holland lost to Alex Dyter 5/6 6/2 6/2
Guy Stanton & Chris French lost to Ronald Paterson & Richard McAllister 6/2 2/6 6/4
Freddie Dixon & Chris Kroeger beat John Duns & Alan Douglas 6/5 5/6 6/4
The National Inter Club Division 2 competition went a lot more smoothly for the club as we beat Holyport 3-2 to move into the Semi Finals. Well done team! The scores will follow.
The newly founded Thames Valley League in it’s second year saw a group of players travel down to The Oratory to compete. The score on the day was 2 matches all, but with Leamington registering a victory by winning more sets. Well done to the representatives, scores as follows:
Freddie Dixon & Chris Kroeger beat Mike Box & Michael Seymour 6/0 6/5
Rob Stewart & Allan Morrissey beat Callum McLean & Peter Buckley 6/3 6/3
John Devis & Chris Sampson lost to Simon Wetton & Max Wetton 2/6 6/3 3/6
Pat Salter & David Howells lost to Sam Peates & Chris Davis 4/6 1/6
The Division 2 team with Zak Eadle and Robert Shenkman (guest for the evening) were victorious against a Queens team represented by Tom Seymour Mead, winning 3-0. The scores were as follows:
Robert Shenkman beat Tom Seymour Mead 6/2 6/3
Zak Eadle beat John Prenn 6/2 6/5
Robert & Zak beat Tom and John 8/6
Like last year, we managed to sell out at 32 pairs, with players split into 8 groups to start their bid for this years edition of the Grant Cup. The boxes were all very competitive with most pairings registering a victory in the competition. Early front runners according to the book were Chris Kroeger and Freddie Dixon, with plenty of money coming in for them after they registered 3 victories in their box.
Unusually, all of the knockout matches were decided with comfortable scorelines with 6/2 being a particularly fashionable scoreline. All 8 of the Quarter Finalists had been playing exceptionally well throughout the weekend and it was very difficult to pick out a victor. The Semi Finals saw the newly founded pairing of Simon Drake and Phil Macdonald taking on Martin Trees and Mark Maclure (Moreton Morrell). Both Simon and Phil had been playing very well and were gelling very well together and managed to win 6/2. In the other half, Kroeger and Dixon were up against Chris Sampson and Andy Dalton, another first time pairing. Chris and Freddie managed to win a crucial 40-all point whilst being 4/2 up and winning that game ended the fightback from Chris and Andy and the scoreline ended up as another 6/2.
The final was evenly handicapped with Simon and Phil receiving 15 from their younger counterparts. Freddie was extremely solid at the back, not making any unforced errors, with Chris acting as a brick wall at the galleries and producing when called upon. Simon and Phil kept attacking and putting everything into it, but they just couldn’t get through Freddie enough and as a result they ran out victorious. The score? 6/2 of course!
A huge huge thank you to Henry, Tom & team, Charlotte & team for a spectacular effort in making everything possible over the course of the weekend and putting together a superb event which was enjoyed by all. Commiserations to Tom Seymour Mead who I think took a bit of a hit in the pocket after the favourites in the book managed to prevail.
Finishing off a busy month for the club with many matches taking place against other clubs.
In National League Division 9, Team Henry Bryan was victorious over Team James Levy 2-1. The scores were as follows:
Henry Bryan bt Will Todd 6/2 1/6 6/4
Kevin Higgins lost to Craig Swallow 6/5 3/6 5/6
Simon Gill bt James Levy 2/6 6/4 6/3
The result leaves Team Bryan just a point off the top spot in the division. James’ team are still also very much in contention.
The chairman’s Division 7 team were also in action yesterday, completing a 2-1 victory over Cambridge. Chris French and Freddie Dixon were representing the team as Cambridge could only field two players.
The Thames Valley League has started again for this season, and we kicked off with an away fixture at Hardwick House. Unfortunately we were defeated 3-1 but there are 5 more matches and we hope to charge up the league and improve on last seasons second placed finish. A big thank you to all the players for making the trip and also to Simon Gill for sourcing the players and captaining the team on the day.
The LRTA were in town over the weekend of 15th contesting divisions 1 & 2 of the Handicap singles and doubles. Caroline Dixon, Julie Levy and Felicity Sargent all represented the club in division 2 of both competitions. Congratulations to Felicity who won the doubles competition partnered with another young player Eve Shenkman from Manchester.
Next year let’s have somebody in division one!
The Club Handicap Singles was played over the first weekend of October, with 24 players vying to get their hands on the first piece of club silverware for the season. The boxes were dominated by the ‘better’ handicaps, with Ian Steele being the solitary ‘high’ handicapped player qualifying from his box.
The first round of knockout matches saw ‘receive 15-love’ as the largest handicap being given away to echo the point above about the clustering of handicaps that were on display. Of the 6 box winners, two were defeated in the opening knockout stages, with three more being eliminated in the Quarter Finals, James Levy as the only box winner to make it into the Semi Finals. He played Paul Brennan off a difference of 1, and what a match they had! The momentum constantly shifted between the two players, but it was Paul who held his nerve in the final game to win 6/5. In the other Semi Final, Bob Compton came up against the chairman with a difference of 23. Bob got off to a quick start, leaving Guy to play catch up. A couple of 40-alls went the way of Bob as well and Guy found himself 4-0 down. He rallied and got a couple of games on the board bu Bob prevailed 6/2.
The final saw two purists of the game doing battle, with a difference of 11 points. As with Paul’s Semi Final, it was nip and tuck all the way, and barring a 3/1 lead for Bob at one stage, they were never more than a game apart. Bob was always a game ahead, and despite Paul’s tremendous effort to overhaul the handicap, it was Bob who got his name on the trophy, winning a thrilling final 6/5.
A very big thank you to Charles Wade for presenting the prizes, Charlotte and her team for feeding everybody over the course of the weekend, and Tom Gibson for putting in a very long shift over the weekend making sure everybody had a drink!
Results as follows:
Paul Brennan beat Ian Steele 6/2
James Levy beat Will Todd 6/4
Bob Compton beat Adam Stokes 6/5
Guy Stanton beat Henry Bryan 6/3
Paul Brennan beat James Levy 6/5
Bob Compton beat Guy Stanton 6/2
Bob Compton beat Paul Brennan 6/5
December 2014 – Charles Wade reporting
A second Open Doubles win for Paddy and Rory Sutton
It is not unique for a pair to progress to the knockout stage of a handicap tournament after having won only one group match out of three. This is what Paddy and Rory Sutton managed to do and, having done so, they exuded the belief that fate was on their side. They attracted many bets from that point on and were always first or second favourites in the betting market. It also soon became apparent that Freddie Dixon and Chris Kroeger were in with a real shout. The Suttons’ early losses had removed then to the other half of the draw and, if there were to be a match between them, it would be in the final.
Other pairs had different ideas however: Nick Thompson and Fiona Harrison from Jesmond – and the latter a Leamington members – gave Dixon and Kroeger a real fright. When leading 4-3, Thompson broke a string in his only racquet and, whilst he chose a replacement from the several offered to him, this couldn’t have helped. He and his partner went down 6-5.
The Suttons took their place in the final with a relatively easy 6-1 win over Eric Nutter and Ken Smith, regular entrants in this event from Newmarket. The final between the Sutton brothers and Freddie Dixon and Chris Kroeger was expected to be close and so it proved. It was an excellent match which went to the Suttons 6-4. The latter, having been the holders, thus completed a double.
During the tournament, the ever popular George Hayward made it known that declining fitness precluded him from participating in any more tournaments. This earned him an extended round of applause at prize giving. Over the years, he picked his doubles partners shrewdly.
P and R Sutton bt E Nutter and K Smith 6-1
F Dixon and C Kroeger bt N Thompson and Fiona Harrison 6-5
Final: P and R Sutton bt F Dixon and C Kroeger 6-4
October 2014 – Charles Wade reporting
Stanton and Hyde Dominant Throughout.
When it was all over, the Camkin Trophy had been won decisively by Guy Stanton and Norman Hyde. They proved once again that tournaments are won by those who find their best level of performance in the semi-finals and finals. And one might add: the ability to play the ‘big’ points well.
Andy Dixon’s partner, Rick Longbottom, was inexperienced, but it was not his fault that Dixon has a propensity for the spectacular when something safer was all that was required. Their loss to Martin Trees and George Hayward after seven match points had been wasted had a depressing inevitability about it. Hayward and Trees overcame Chris French and Robert Frost in the semi-final round 6-1. If there were a prize for style, French and Frost would have been prime candidates for it. They were conceding a handicap to all the other pairs the tournament, but there was little to suggest that they understood what the task required.
After overcoming Tony and Fiona Harrison, Freddy Dixon and Chris Kroeger put up a good fight against Guy Stanton and Norman Hyde. The 6-4 scoreline suggests that they were ‘well up to the pace’ in this tournament. They led 4-2 at one stage, but then lost four games in succession.
The final proved to be Guy Stanton’s finest hour (so far of course). Faced with a man of similar powerful physique in Martin Trees, both enjoyed the game played at pace. Of the ‘junior partners’, Norman Hyde added his experience to that of Stanton, but George Hayward appeared to be out of sorts and troubled by recurring asthma. The resulting 6-1 scoreline fairly reflected the winners’ superiority.
G Hayward/M Trees (43.9) bt C French/R Frost (26.1) 6-1
G Stanton/N Hyde (34.0) bt F Dixon/C Kroeger (39.0) 6-3
Final: G Stanton/N Hyde bt G Hayward/M Trees 6-1.
February 28th- March 2nd Charles Wade Reports
Frost and Levy win Torpedo
The 2014 Torpedo was bang on target and the final particularly was as good as any played out in the past. The better players were popular in the auction and most of them drew partners who would not detract from their chances. However, no pairing remained unbeaten in the group stage and it was in the end to prove a tournament for the well-backed pairings.
The draw brought last year’s winning pair – Henry Bryan and Robert Allsop (34.8) – together for the second time in a row. This in itself was unique and it would have defied mathematicians to calculate the astronomic odds against a repeat victory. In the end, they played creditably to reach the semi-final round losing very narrowly to Tom Seymour Mead and Andy Dixon (18.0) . The latter had to survive six match points before securing the win.
The other semi-final places went to Robert Frost and James Levy (29.8), and to Paddy Sutton and George Hayward (34.8). It was Frost and Levy who won 6-3 to set up what proved to be a great final. The match, as so often in such events, meant that Seymour Mead and Frost were going to dominate the exchanges and this was difficult for Dixon and Levy who faced the difficult choice of getting involved to some extent or staying right out of the way. At times, there was some unwanted confusion which cost both partnerships some points. Taking the handicap concession into account, Frost was good enough to cope with much of what Seymour Mead could throw at him and, if anything, he thrived on the faster tempo of the match. By the closing stages it was clear that Frost and Levy were waxing stronger and they eventually won 6-4. For Frost now, the only way is up and let it be hoped that he fulfils his potential.
T Seymour Mead and A Dixon (18.0) bt R Allsop and H Bryan (34.8) 6-5
R Frost and J Levy (29.8) bt P Sutton and G Hayward (34.8) 6-3
Final: Frost and Levy bt Seymour Mead and Dixon 6-4
January 24th – 26th Charles Wade Reports
Paddy Sutton keeps it in the family
The Open Handicap Singles tournament in January – sponsored for the fifth time by Aspect Consultants – has always been the ‘main event’ in the club’s calendar and it has known some great days with massive entries, particularly in the 1970s. There are a number of reasons why the record entry of 96 in 1976 will even be approached in the circumstances of today, but 56 this year was a very good entry. All the 14 groups included a seeded player with a handicap in the high twenties or low thirties and ‘quality’ was represented by Tom Seymour Mead and James Coyne, both handicap 12.
There was little in the group stage to suggest that handicaps were working out unfairly: the better players these days do not get many ‘easy rides’ and not one of the seeded players won his or her group. Only five of them reached the knockout stage.
By the time the quarter-final round had been reached, the line-up was Alex Hyde (39) v Georgiana Seigneur (51), Chris Sampson (55) v Andy Dixon (37), John Devis (55) v Paul Brennan (44) and Martin Trees (38) v Paddy Sutton (28). The bookmakers made Sutton favourite at this stage, partly on the basis he was the best player amongst the last eight. However he had lost a group match to Andy Dixon (37) without winning a game, so his credentials were hardly that of a prospective winner. Dixon went out to Chris Sampson, a difficult opponent, who had previously defeated Alex Hyde comfortably. Paul Brennan overcame John Devis to claim a semi-final spot and that left the eagerly anticipated match between Sutton and Martin Trees. The latter plays an aggressive game which is bound to lead to some unwonted errors and on this occasion he made a few that he could not afford. Sutton won 5-3 and became a warm favourite to win the tournament. He defeated Brennan 5-3 to claim his place in the final. The latter had fought back to 3-3 after losing the first two games – a mountain to climb in a five-game match.
A key factor in the final was that the handicap difference was wide enough to bring a tambour ban and one service into play. Sampson had until now thrived against opponents such as Andy Dixon who brings an ingredient of pace into a match. On this occasion the handicap meant that Sutton had no choice but to play with restraint whereas Sampson might have preferred more pace in the rests. As it happened Sutton did not so much as hit the tambour throughout the entire match. However, there were anxious moments: Sutton was never behind, but he twice lost 40 all points which added to the pressure that he and his supporters in the gallery were under.
Paddy Sutton thus completed a fraternal double by winning the title his brother Rory won a year earlier (replicating the same feat by the Wade brothers). Sampson was frustrated not to have ended a sequence of eight losing tournament finals. His turn is overdue and must surely come soon.
Alex Hyde (39) v Georgiana Seigneur (51) 5-4
Chris Sampson (55) v Andy Dixon (37) 5-2
Paul Brennan (44) v John Devis (55) 5-2
Paddy Sutton (28) v Martin Trees (38) 5-3
Sampson bt Hyde 5-1
Sutton bt Brennan 5-3
Sutton bt Sampson 5-3
A feature of the handicap singles weekend was the challenge match between Tom Seymour Mead, Leamington’s club champion, and the ladies world champion Claire Vigrass. The match created considerable interest with opinion was divided about who might win. In the end it was Vigrass who emerged as a comfortable winner 6-2 6-2. Seymour Mead was understandably frustrated that the result was no closer, but he was up against an outstanding female player the like of whom might not be seen again in the lifetimes of those in the gallery.
December 6th – 8th Charles Wade Reports
Fine doubles win for the Sutton brothers
The entry (26 pairs) for the Open Doubles was a little up on that of the last year and it was encouraging that some new names are beginning to come to the fore. The eventual winners were Patrick and Rory Sutton (31.8) who were never seriously under threat: they are now a formidable combination in this type of event. Their most decisive win (6-0) was against Sir Andrew Hamilton and Norman Hyde (35.2), runners-up in the previous year and not short of experience. This win left the route was clear for their toughest match against Andy Dixon and Ian Steele (41.2). The latter pair had emerged from a quarter of the knockout stage that included some fine matches, particularly Guy Stanton’s and Henry Bryan’s narrow 6-5 win over last year’s winners Tim Dadd and Tony Harrison (41.8), and Andy Dixon’s and Ian Steele’s 6-4 margin over Freddie Dixon and Chris Kroeger (41.0). It is possible that Andy Dixon – fast and a high energy consumer – had lost his ‘edge’ by the closing stages of semi-final round. Some unforced errors when receiving service were costly.
George Hayward and Martin Trees (43.6) dominated the top half of the draw. The latter is powerfully built and chased everything to protect his somewhat immobile partner. With a little refinement, Trees should improve noticeably. They defeated Bob Compton and Peter Mason (54.0) 6-3 in the semi-final round.
The first four games of the final were shared and hard fought. Thereafter the Sutton brothers won the last four and the match. Both are forceful players with scope for improvement. Hayward and Steele, experienced campaigners both, played their parts on opposite sides of the net. However, it was noticeable that they were tiring in the later stages of the tournament. Both being of a ‘good age’, that was not surprising.
G Hayward and M Trees (43.6) bt R Compton and P Mason (54.0) 6-3
P and R Sutton (31.8) bt A Dixon and I Steele (41.2) 6-4
Final: Sutton and Sutton bt Hayward and Trees 6-2
November 1st Charles Wade Reports
matches entertain members
In early November the club hosted two matches involving leading professionals in the PlayBrave Super Series. Bryn Sayers (Queen’s) narrowly defeated Chris Chapman (RTC) 10-8 and Ben Matthews (Hatfield) beat Ricardo Smith (Prested Hall) 10-1. The latter came back from this heavy defeat in a ‘friendly’ doubles. He partnered Matthews to a 10-7 victory over Sayers and Chapman. There was plenty of forceful play in this entertaining match.
Caption: Ricardo Smith (left) and Bryn Sayers
October 25th-26th 2013 Charles Wade Reports
Hayward grows on Trees
Only nine pairs entered the 2013 Camkin Trophy and this must be considered disappointing. A closed handicap tournament, the Camkin Trophy has always been one for club members to win and it is perhaps time for a post-mortem. With one group of four and the other of five – and three in each going through to the knockout stage – only three pairs would be eliminated. In the first group (of four), George Hayward and Martin Trees (46.8) were unbeaten and the runners-up were the husband and wife combination James and Julie Levy (51.0). In the other group Norman Hyde and Ian Steele (48.4) were totally dominant while the rest had to settle for scraps.
However, as the knockout stage developed, it became clear that the first group was stronger and that the Hyde/Steele pairing was not a sure thing. Henry Bryan and Guy Stanton (33.2) had won only one match in the first group and this meant that they faced George Hayward and Martin Trees again – in the semi-final round. After an error-strewn start by both pairs, the latter won 6-3. If there was a surprise in the tournament, it was the ease with which James and Julie Levy disposed of Hyde and Steele in the other semi-final. Against Hayward and Trees in the final the Levy’s had to reverse the earlier group match result and they led 3-1 and for a moment looked like doing it. From thereon, however, Trees and Hayward waxed stronger and only lost one more game.
G Hayward/M Trees (46.8) bt H Bryan/G Stanton (33.2) 6-3
J Levy and Mrs J Levy (51.0) bt N Hyde and I Steele (48.4) 6-2
Hayward/Trees bt Levy/Mrs Levy 6-4
October 4th-6th 2013 Charles Wade Reports
Fitness tells in Dunnett Jug
Andy Morrissey (59) won the 2013 Dunnett Jug after one or two close calls in the earlier stages and a one-sided final. He waxed as the tournament progressed, whilst others wained. The first moment of crisis came in a group match against Guy Stanton (29) who was conceding 30 in the handicap. This, of course, involved a tambour ban and Stanton unfortunately picked not a good time to hit it – at match point against. By the semi-final stage, the veteran Ian Steele (54) had progressed serenely, conceding no more than one game to all his opponents with the one exception of John Devis (55). At this stage, he came up against Morrissey and, trailing by a game to four, looked to be doomed. However, 80 years or more is a lot to carry and Steele began to tire visibly: Morrissey took the next five games and the match.
In the bottom half of the draw, Phil MacDonald (43) reached the final after comfortable wins over David Howells and Fiona Harrison (58). He too appeared to tire as the final progressed and he went down 1-6. It should be said however that Morrissey enjoyed a considerable handicap which he can now be expected to leave behind.
May 19th 2013 Charles Wade Reports
Norman Hyde and Ian Steele add to their tallies
Played in May 2013, the Vintage Doubles is a handicap for those over sixty years of age. On past form, Norman Hyde and Ian Steele looked a formidable combination at this level, and so it proved. The six pairs entering were placed in a round robin format and the Hyde/Steele combination won all their matches. The only minor fright was their narrow win over Jeff Avery and Chris Sampson in a match that went the full distance. The runners-up were the Earl of Buckinghamshire and Peter Flood who won four out of five. They could not, however, threaten Hyde and Steele and lost 1-6.
April 2013 Charles Wade Reports
The years sit lightly on Ian Steele
Octogenarian Ian Steele won the P A Muddyman Cup in May, the handicap singles tournament for the over 50 age group. Six players entered and a round robin format was used. Steele won four out of his five matches and he would probably have won the fifth against Norman Hyde if his back had not gone into spasm. The only other player to win four out of five was Bob Compton and fortuitously this meant that the last match of the tournament matched him against Steele. The latter won decisively 6-1. The two finalists were both handicapped 54 and therefore received points from the other four entrants.
April 28th Charles Wade Reports
The 2013 Club Championship will not go down in the annals of the club as one of the better ones. Three of the six protagonists were far from fit. In the end Tom Seymour Mead’s long sequence of wins continued in spite of the fact he was suffering from a chest infection. Last year’s finalist Paddy Sutton had only just returned from a week in Antigua in time to play and was jet-lagged. Rob Frost had damaged his wrist in a motor cycle accident. The consequence of all this was that Chris French reached the final, unexpectedly according to the seeding.
French began his campaign by beating Rob Allsop and then the tired Sutton 6-2 6-1. This put him into the final. In the top half of the draw, the story centred around the talented and ambidextrous Rob Frost. He disposed of Guy Stanton easily enough and then came up against Seymour Mead in what was the match of the tournament.
The ailing Seymour Mead’s game was uncharacteristically error-strewn and he struggled to play to any sort of length, constantly over-hitting the ball against the tambour to find his opponent waiting to take it off the battery wall. Frost’s unconventional strokes frequently wrong-footed Seymour Mead and he was lacking his usual pace around the court to cover the space that was opening up. Contrastingly lack of energy was not a problem for Frost and his retrieving on both wings kept him in close contention. Inevitably, however ill, Seymour Mead had enough left to see off the challenge 6-5 6-4.
Taking into account the difference in ability between the two finalists, French could not be expected to take more than a very few games in the final against Seymour Mead. In the event, he was not able to win one. His cause was a hopeless one.
In retrospect, the match between Seymour Mead and Frost provided the most entertainment for the spectators, in spite of the poor physical condition of the participants. Frost was new to the championship and his unconventional play contributed to it. He clearly has talent and one must hope that dedication is there if he is to win a championship in the future.
1st round: Robert Frost beat Guy Stanton 6-3 6-3 Chris French beat Robert Allsop 6-4 6-4
Semi-finals: Tom Seymour Mead beat Robert Frost 6-5, 6-4 Chris French beat Paddy Sutton 6-2, 6-1
Final Tom Seymour Mead beat Chris French 6-0, 6-0
April 27th Charles Wade Reports
In April, world champion Robert Fahey and lady world champion Claire Vigrass played a challenge match at the club. The quality of play was excellent and the match was competitive. Fahey was conceding receive 30 owe 15 and this sort of handicap meant inevitably that he would have to face the added pressure of a large number of game points against. He dropped behind and trailed 2-5 in the match of a single set to eight. He then found another gear and the match was finally ended by him on the 7 all 40 all point. Those who have had many playing lessons ending exactly on time might have been cynical about this, but the contestants deserved more than that.
The fact is that both Fahey and Vigrass are not only world champions, but they are the best of any era by a wide margin. Vigrass’s high standard of play and forcing strokes surprised many who had not previously seen her on court.
James Levy and Chris Sampson, by virtue of winning a round-robin doubles tournament earlier in the day, earned the right to play a set against Fahey and Vigrass. It was then decided that the pairs should be split up. Nothing more than a “customer game” could have been expected whatever the line-up, but the participants enjoyed it.
April 20th-21st Charles Wade Reports
11 year-old wins club’s first handicap tournament for ladies
In April, the club hosted a tournament for ladies with handicaps of 60 and higher. This was an inaugural event and it proved immediately popular with all who took part. As a ‘first’ it will clearly be the first of many. The club had twice hosted the ladies’ national doubles handicap but they were organised by the LRTA, not the club itself.
16 ladies, seven of them representing Leamington, entered and the decisive winner was 11 year-old Hannah Parry (71) from the Bristol & Bath club who lost only four games in running through the knockout stage. The only match she lost was to Caroline Dixon (62) in their group match. This result pitched Dixon against Kim Walker (Oratory 65); she lost 6-4 to the eventual runner-up. Dixon and Zoe Morrissey (78) had been the host club’s best hopes.
Hannah Parry is a county lawn tennis player in her age group so it was not entirely surprising that she won decisively: clearly a lady player of promise.
Kim Walker (65) bt Katie Garrod (62) 6-2
Hannah Parry (71) by Zoe Morrissey (78) 6-0
Hannah Parry bt Kim Walker 6-2
March 1st to 3rd, Charles Wade reports:
Allsop and Bryan take it to the wire
Robert Allsop and Henry Bryan pulled off a narrow but much deserved win in the 2013 Torpedo. They could only finish third in their group and were not really looking to be likely winners until the very last two or three rests in the tournament had been concluded. In the auction of individual players, many had looked elsewhere and it was Tom Seymour Mead who attracted most attention as usual. But the draw can change everything and it was George Hayward and Rory Sutton who won all their group matches and emerged as favourites.
Allsop and Bryan showed that they were in with a shout in the semi-final round. They overcame Freddy Dixon and Guy Stanton 6-3 in a fine match which was worthy of a final and, incidentally, which reversed the result of the group match between these two pairings. As your correspondent has mentioned on several occasions, Allsop is a better player when there is some pace in the game and Stanton was powerful enough to provide this. The typical slow-slow-quick-quick-slow tempo of handicap play has never suited Allsop and, until now, he has not been a prolific winner of tournaments. Perhaps that will change. His partner Henry Bryan would not have been Bernini’s first choice to model for a statue of Mars but he is still improving and becoming a shrewd match player.
In the other half of the draw, George Hayward and Rory Sutton were much fancied as likely winners of the tournament. They offered a blend of experience and untrammelled youth, and were one of the highest handicapped pairings. They overcame Andrew Meanley and Ian Steele 6-4 in the semi-final round.
In the final, the score reached 3-3 with Hayward and Sutton appearing to have a slight edge. However at 40 all in the next game, Bryan missed a ‘sitter’ – to his immense frustration – which would have given him and his partner a 4-3 lead. Nonetheless, the next two games were shared and with the score 5-4 in favour of Hayward and Sutton and a lead of 40 love, things could not have been more bleak for Allsop and Bryan. But they saved the game and, with the advantage of the service end, took the last as well.
The Torpedo has always been a popular event since its inception and it was good to see more younger members participating. The matches, particularly in the closing stages, were played out in front of a partisan and garrulous dedans.
R Allsop/H Bryan (34.2) bt F Dixon/G Stanton (32) 6-3
G Hayward and R Sutton (50.6) and A Meanley and I Steele (49) 6-4
Final: Allsop/Bryan bt Hayward/R Sutton 6-5
Richard Starkey lost to Rupert Henson 2-6 2-6
Phil Macdonald lost to James McNicoll 5-6 3-6
Peter Mason lost to Kathryn McNicoll 4-6 2-6
Andy Dawkes beat Ed Hoskin 6-3 6-4
Alastair Robson and Adam Stokes lost to
James Bentley and Martin Morse 1-6 2-6
Leamington lost 1-4
Matthew Fattorini reports
The doubles tournament for the over sixties which commemorates Sir Howard Dalton attracted a disappointedly small entry of only seven pairs, but was played with an enthusiasm and spirit that belied the age of the combatants.
The first semi-final saw John Singleton and George Hayward facing the hot favourites, Geoff Broome and Bill Slora, in a match involving the smallest concession of owe quarter 15, but equality was not to be reflected in the final score. The favourites’ ability to keep the ball in play demonstrated time and again that the slow ‘sitter’ can be the most dangerous shot in the game and they frequently found the appropriately named Singleton in less than incisive form; too many shots that should have been winners finding the net. His partner demonstrated some good dance moves, usually in an attempt to avoid the ball, but was otherwise not much in evidence. The favourites won the match 6-2.
In the other semi-final John Clarke and David Howells were conceding a small handicap to Richard East and John Yarnall but never appeared equal to the task. They succumbed 0-6.
The final was played level and promised to be close but with the Broome/Slora partnership as many times previous winners and the marginal favourites, 0-5 and 15-40 with a chase of 1 yard to beat was not, therefore, a good position to find themselves in. Yarnall had been very much ‘man of the match’ running down balls to the second gallery and volleying soundly throughout, but East’s high cut sidewall serve had also won many points and he chose this moment again to serve an ‘ace’.
Broome/Slora ( ) bt Singleton/Hayward 6-2
East/Yarnall ( ) bt Clarke/Howells 6-0
East/Yarnall bt Broome/Slora 6-0
4th February 2013
January 30th 2013 Matthew Fattorini reports
No more the bridesmaid! Rory Sutton’s dream comes true.
The annual Open Singles Handicap in January attracted an entry of 48 players with visitors from Bordeaux, Paris, Hatfield, Moreton Morrell, Oratory, Prested, Seacourt, and Queen’s.
Much of the early money was on the American, Tate Baldwin, who talked up his chances. Whatever they might have been, he came across a Burns night party in his hotel still in progress in the early hours. Enough said!
Only seven players got through their box without loss: Chris Handley and James Richardson (Moreton Morrell); Nigel Ireson (Seacourt); Charles Harcourt, Craig Swallow, Chris Kroeger and Rory Sutton (all of Leamington). In Sutton’s case this was achieved for the loss of only four games and with his eye well in from regular games of Rackets, his 51 handicap was beginning to look generous. He had been, in fact, a finalist in the last six events in which he had participated. Surely he wouldn’t be a bridesmaid again this time?
Of the so far unbeaten six, Ireson (44) was overcome by the unpredictable Bob Compton (55). The latter then faced James Richardson’s left-handed railroad serve and managed to turn a 1-4 deficit into a win. This set him up to meet Handley (48) who had progressed comfortably so far and looked a potential winner of the tournament.
In the other half of the draw the question was whether a number of better and more experienced players could chastise Rory Sutton. Mike Seymour (39) lost to an improving Aled Griffiths (52) and Rob Frost (25) went out to Chris Sampson (55) on the 5 all 40 all point. The stylish Charles Harcourt (24) remained an obstacle but was no match for the contrastingly forceful approach of Sutton. Griffiths was another final point loser in the next round – to Chris Sampson.
In the first semi-final Bob Compton, receiving half 15 owe 15, lost the serve to Handley after two rests and was not to regain it until he was trailing 0-3. On this occasion he profited by the change of end to win the game but promptly lost the serve again. As Handley is young, quick and a good retriever, it proved difficult for Compton to halt the way things were going.
The tension in the second semi-final was relieved by the occasional Sampson expletive in Swedish. However he stuck to the task well and matched Sutton game for game. Sampson’s style of play did not suit Sutton who would have preferred more pace. The latter won 5-4 in the end, but he caused his supporters among the spectators some anxiety.
The final appeared to have all the makings of a close match with two young players of similar style, both fast and good retrievers, and capable of hard low floor strokes in excess of what might be expected at this level. With his Rackets-based approach to the game, Sutton was much more suited to this sort of pace than he was in the semi-final round. His game plan appeared to be to out-hit his opponent and in this he was successful. The final score of 5-1 was decisive, but perhaps less than fair to the runner-up.
Scores from the quarter-final stage:
QF B. Compton (55) bt J. Richardson (49) 5/4
C. Handley (48) bt A. Hyde (38) 5/3
R. Sutton (51) bt C. Harcourt (24) 5 /1
C. Sampson (55) bt A Griffiths (52) 5/4
SF C. Handley bt B. Compton 5/1
R. Sutton bt C. Sampson 5/4
Final R. Sutton bt C. Handley 5/1
• 5th National League Division 9 v Seacourt
– (Paul Brennan, James Levy, Craig Swallow) lost 0/3
•5th-7th Dunnett Cup – Will Todd beat Chris Sampson (5/4) in the final
•14th National League Division 5 v Cambridge – (Guy Stantion, Chris French, Richard Yorke-Long) won 2/1
•19th National League Division 5 v Hatfield – (Robert Frost, Chris French, Richard Yorke-Long) lost 1/2
•21st LTCC v Dedanists – (at home) drew 3/3
•27th-28th Camkin Trophy – Bob Compton & Peter Mason beat Chris Sampson & Ian Sloan (6/5) in the final
Well done to all our successful players.
6th November 2012
Are better players at a disadvantage?
As the tumult of the Open Handicap Singles dies away, one is left with the question why it was dominated by high handicappers in its closing stages. There were twelve groups and each was allocated a player with a handicap more or less in the twenties. Andy Dixon (36) and Tom Seymour Mead (11) were the only exceptions at the top and bottom of the list. Only five out of these twelve players progressed to the knockout stage. The last eight in the tournament, with the only exceptions of Charles Harcourt (24) and Alex Hyde (38), all had handicaps around 50. There are two conclusions to which we might come, for example: firstly that most of the best twelve might be inept at conceding large handicaps and secondly that too many of the over-fifty handicappers are not being subjectively adjusted enough, if it all. Your correspondent has long been aware of the problems, but is less sure of the right solutions.
Some of the twelve better players referred to have come down in handicap a little during the last twelve months and this makes them even more vulnerable to those with handicaps around 50 who are moving downwards very slowly or not at all. Real tennis handicaps, like those in golf, should be less static at higher levels, especially when the players concerned have even a modicum of athletic ability – something that can be assumed as otherwise they would be studying ancient relics or the like. One can understand that those running the national handicap system would prefer to keep subjective handicapping to a minimum and tournament organisers might not wish to make adjustments in the week prior to a tournament, especially if they too have entered.
One might ask what handicap adjustments are going to be made in response to the results of the January tournament. The best twelve have mostly underperformed and a large number of the 50 handicappers or thereabouts are clearly better – at least 2 or 3 better – than their current handicap marks. This requires immediate surgery rather than allowing the slower process of results-based adjustments to take its course.
For the better players, a handicap concession which incorporates receive 30 is always very difficult. Their opponents can play with careless abandon, whereas they cannot concede an inch. They also need a strong temperament. One might also suggest that the ‘skill set’ with which they play most of their tennis is not always adequate for tournaments involving big handicap concessions.
30th January 2013
The return match between Tom Seymour Mead and Kevin Sheldon was a much looked-forward to ‘curtain raiser’ to the Open Singles Handicap in January 2013 sponsored again by Aspect Consultants. In the previous year, Seymour Mead had taken the last four games to win narrowly and it was felt by some that this was a consequence of Sheldon being short of full fitness. This time, Sheldon led 3-0 in the first set and some spectators were concluding prematurely that the writing was already on the wall. Seymour Mead confounded them by winning the next five games. Sheldon took the next two games to take the game score to five all, but it was Seymour Mead who took the final game. There was never more than one game in it in the second set but Seymour Mead again won the vital five all game.
A scoreline of 6-5 6-5 is so close that it does not really prove anything. Seymour Mead was playing near to his peak and could still improve a little with dedicated practice. The same cannot be said of his 61 year-old opponent. The passage of time defeats everyone eventually.
The two combatants offered a contrast of styles. Sheldon appeared effortless as always whereas Seymour Mead was replete with nervous energy and sharper in movement. His floor game was crisper. Whilst the first two matches, last year’s and this, were very close, it must be questioned whether this ‘standing dish’ should be on the menu again in years to come.
30th January 2013
David and James Watson win the championship
The final of the National Fathers and Sons Championship was contested at Leamington in January 2013 between David and James Watson and Duncan and Daniel Colquhoun. The match produced some quality play which entertained the spectators, but the result was never in any real doubt. The Colquhouns trailed 3-1 and then made a concerted effort to level the scores at 3-3. They were unable, in the match of one set to eight, to win another game.
Only four pairs were selected to play in the championship. The holders, Richard and Tom Seymour Mead lost to the Colquhouns 8-1 and Marek and Christopher Stefanowicz were trailing 0-6 to the Watsons when an unfortunate collision between them left Christopher with a cut on the forehead and no choice but retirement.
The National Fathers and Sons Handicap tournament produced exciting semi-finals. The championship finalists had already been eliminated by that stage.
George and Brian Hayward just beat Ian and Ed Steele. Leading 5-4, George Hayward missed a ‘sitter’ at match point. He made amends two points later by deftly steering a much more difficult shot into the galleries to defeat a hazard chase and win the match. The Stefanowiczes beat the Browns 6-5.
In the final the Stefanowiczes took the first two games, but then the Haywards got back into the match and led 5-3. Brian Hayward’s hard and somewhat wild hitting was proving difficult to cope with, particularly taking into account the receive 30 owe 30 handicap to be conceded.
Two games to the Stefanwiczes led to the denouement of 5 all 40 all seem almost inevitable. Crucially the Haywards held serve at this stage and Brian forced an error from their opponents by finding the tambour.
14th January 2013
The open handicap doubles tournament remains a popular event in the club calendar, but it has to be conceded that its great days are probably past. The entry no longer includes the likes of Julian Snow, James Male and Andrew Page. Nonetheless the trophy, the Grant Cup, is the most impressive in the club’s collection of silverware.
The entry of 22 pairs was dominated by the host club’s representatives, but they were not destined to produce the winners from amongst their number. These came from a ‘scratch pairing’ of Tim Dadd (Holyport) and Tony Harrison (Jesmond Dene) who had not known each other long, only having met recently at a tournament. They won two of their four group matches and that was just enough to take them into the knockout stage. However, a slow start is to be expected from players in their first visit to Leamington and there was nothing slow about the way they finished the tournament.
In the quarter-final round, Dadd and Harrison disposed of Ian and Ed Steele (35.4) 5-3 and then last year’s runners-up Paddy and Rory Sutton (31.6) in the semi-final round by the same score. The Suttons trailed 4-0 at one stage and their attempt to achieve a recovery started on game too late. Sir Andre Hamilton and Norman Hyde (33.8) made progress in the lower half of the draw. In two close matches, they just managed to defeat the Newmarket pair and semi-finalists last year, Eric Nutter and Ken Smith (43.8), 5-4 and then needed the same score to overcome Chris French and Martin Trees. As so often in a close encounter, there were to be several crucial 40 all points which on balance went against the latter pair.
The final was not close. Hamilton and Hyde could only win the first game. By this time Dadd and Harrison, both powerfully-built and enjoying a combined handicap of 40.4, were capable of hitting penetrating strokes that would have troubled any pair in the draw. Hamilton and Hyde are not short of experience, but that was not enough.
30th November 2012