Finals Day last Sunday turned out to be a great event, despite the restrictions of Covid-19. Everyone tried hard to maintain social distancing, the weather was wonderful and the tennis was first class.
The day started with the Ladies’ Doubles in which last year’s runners-up Ravinder Norman & Jenny Sheppard were facing the new partnership of Penny Hemingway & Maggie Ingham. The first set featured some long rallies but with Norman intervening at the net and putting away some firm volleys a lot of the points went to Norman & Sheppard who won the set 6-1. Hemingway & Ingham gradually worked their way into the match in the 2nd set and their hard work was rewarded when they won the set 6-3. As we went into the third set (and the 3rd hour) both pairs were covering a lot of ground and starting to suffer in the heat. There was no way of telling who would win and it was almost inevitable that the set would be decided on a tie-break which Hemingway and Ingham won to take the championship.
The next match was the Men’s Singles and a lot of members had come along to watch, intrigued to see how 15 year old Jacques Edwards would fare against the hard hitting Jon Blatchford. Within a few points it was clear this was going to be a spectacular match featuring some of the best tennis ever seen on our courts. Blatchford cracked his serve down but Edwards was able to get his racket to the ball and increasingly impressed those watching with his accuracy of shot and speed around the court as his returns skimmed the sideline and passed Blatchford. It was a feast of hard and accurate hitting but it soon became clear that Edwards had the edge and he eventually won by an impressive margin 6-3 6-1. Blatchford was magnanimous in defeat stating that he didn’t mind being beaten by someone as good as Jacques.
Next on was a repeat of last year’s Handicap Singles Final between Russell Finch and Joe Forrester. Joe started on +7, 1 less than last year, and the target for the best of 9 games was 14. The first game was 14-13 to Joe and, incredibly, the next four were 14-13 to Russell. A lot of the spectators were backing Russell, who must have more runners-up trophies than anyone in the club, but Joe also had his supporters and, although Russell came close to getting that deciding 5th game, he couldn’t quite make it as Joe took the final four games 14-11 14-12 14-8 14-11.
The last match was a repeat of last year’s Men’s Doubles final between the champions John Phillips & Jon Blatchford and Russell Finch & James Brennan. Finch and Brennan had a good start with Brennan holding his service after a couple of deuces and Blatchford losing his service to 15. Finch was then broken to 30 and, with Phillips holding serve after two deuces, it was 3-1 to the 2019 champions. Brennan again held his service after a deuce but, with Phillips & Blatchford holding serves and Finch dropping his, the first set went 6-2 to the holders. In the second set serves were held relatively easily to 3-2 when Brennan had a bit more of a struggle to make it 3-3. Phillips held his service crucially after two deuces to make it 4-3 and, with the tiring Finch dropping his service after another close game, Blatchford served out to retain the championship for Phillips & Blatchford.