Ladies’ 2 started the new year with a crushing 4-0 win over Twyford 2 in Division 7. Jenny Sheppard & Ravinder Norman were 1st pair in a strong team that also included Jenny Partridge & Maggie Ingham. Sheppard/Norman started with a straightforward 6-3 6-4 win over Mandy Thorn/Sioban Wilkinson while Partridge/Ingham were cruising through 6-0 6-0 against Christine Tatai della Zuana/Jennifer Manning. It was a similar tale in the second round with Sheppard/Norman scoring another double bagel against the hapless della Zuana/Manning while Partridge/Ingham won 7-5 6-2 against Thorn/Wilkinson.
The next day, all three Men’s teams were playing, with Men’s 1 facing a very strong Ascot 1 team in Division 2. Neither of our two pairs, John Phillips/Jon Blatchford and James Brennan/Matt Paxton had much to offer against the home side who won 4-0 on a morning our players will want to forget.
Men’s 2, on the other hand, had a terrific morning, beating Division 4 leaders Wokingham 1 4-0 without losing a set.
Wokingham fielded their normal 1st team pairs who, until this match, had not been pushed very hard by any of their opponents. Russell and Jim elected to pair up with Hamish McCarthy and Michael Harris playing as the second pair.
As expected their 1sts came out of the blocks pretty quickly but the home pair managed to keep the first game alive for a number of deuce points, which helped them settle down. There were no service breaks until the 12 game, whereupon R&J broke to love (7-5). Losing the first set may have knocked the away pair’s confidence a bit, which contributed to an early break for the home pair, resulting in a CTC win 7-5, 6-4.
There wasn’t much between their first and second pairings, which meant that Hamish and Michael had a tough debut playing together. Their 2nds were becoming increasingly frustrated as they couldn’t find a way to finish the points off because our two speedsters ran down every ball. M&H and came out winning 6-3, 6-4.
The reverse rubbers were pretty similar to the openers in that Hamish and Michael continued to frustrate their first pair with their speed and tenacious play. It was pretty clear our two were getting on top as racquets were getting thrown at bags and their shoulders were down. The result was 6-2, 7-6 to McCarthy/Harris.
R&J took an early 4-1 lead In their match against their second pair. One of their players decided to hit out at everything, which resulted in a few spectacular winners. However, R&J continued to play percentage tennis and came out winning 6-3, 6-2.
It was a good quality and often high speed tennis match. All of the CTC team played well (no swearing, shouting or throwing racquets on our side).
Men’s 3 also had a good morning, beating one of the in-form teams in Division 6E, 2nd placed Bracknell 5, in a 2-2 draw away from home. Steve Stow and David Stone won both of their rubbers in straight sets, the first 6-2 6-4 against Kevin Cushenan/Peter Blyth and the second 6-0 7-5 against Nigel Hayward/William Heath-Turral to set up the win. Andrew Morrison and Daniel Rippon, who is still a junior member, did their bit as well and could have won both rubbers. They lost their first against Hayward/Heath Turrall, but the score was a close 6-7 4-6 and in their second, against Cushenan/Blyth, they won the first set 6-2, making sure the result didn’t go down to games, before losing the second 4-6 and the deciding tie-break. The 2 points leaves them in 3rd place and still with an outside chance of promotion with two matches to play.
The next weekend a number of our junior teams were in action. There was a rare 2-4 loss for 18U Boys A against Caversham Park but wins for 14U Boys B and 10U Mixed.
14U Boys B were away at Riseley and they ccame away with a hard fought 6-0 win. Oliver Walker won a close singles 6-3 7-5 against James Rix while Arlo Filley was winning 6-3 6-1 against Oliver rix. In the doubles it was a 6-3 6-3 win for the Crowthorne pair.
10U Mixed have not lost since they were introduced during last summer and won their first match in a deciding tie-break. They won their summer group and, with their latest 12-0 win against Wargrave have now won their group in the winter league. However, despite the final score, it was not plain sailing with several close sets that needed winning to ensure a clean sheet. Misha Ordovas won his first set 4-1 against Jack Welch but the second set was more of a battle before Ordovas won it 5-4. Henry Evan-Hart had a more straightforward 4-2 4-1 win against Frederick Simmonds but Jake Walbancke had a dreadful start against Myles Warner, losing it 0-4, but he came right back to win the second set 4-1 and take the deciding tie-break 10-8 while Angel Mendel Idowu was cruising through 4-0 4-0 against her opponent. In the doubles, Evan-Hart/Ordovas won 4-1 5-4 while Mendel-Idowu/Walbancke were winning 4-0 4-0.
As in the summer, several teams dropped out of the 10U Mixed league so our team had just three matches instead of the six that were scheduled with Caversham, Wokingham and Caversham Park failing to field teams.
The following Sunday all three mixed teams were playing with Mixed 1 and 2 winning and Mixed 3 losing 1-3 after a very long struggle. Mixed 1 were at home against Caversham 2 in Division 3 and they ended up with a 2-2 winning draw although, they were a tie-break away from a 3-1 win. John Phillips/Emma Knowles were on form, winning 6-4 6-3 against Adam Buttigieg/Sarah Baker and Matt Paxton/Tina Stern could have made it 2-0 but they lost the deciding tie-break after winning the first set 6-4 and dropping the second by the same score against Angus Adams-Cairns/Hayley Underwood. In the second round, Phillips Knowles secured the win with a 6-1 6-1 win against Adams-Cairns/Underwood while Paxton/Stern were losing 1 and 3 to Buttigieg/Baker. The team are now a point behind Basildon who head Division 3 with a match to play.
Mixed 2 headed to Twyford to play their 2nds in Division 4. They came away with a 4-0 victory with Richard McCully/Ravinder Norman achieving two wins, both in deciding tiebreaks while Simon Usher/Cath Sillitoe took a more straightforward route with two straight sets victories. Their first was a close 7-6 6-4 win against Jamie Henderson/Anna Cowdy while McCully/Norman were battling to an epic 7-5 6-7 1-0 win against Nicholas Webb/Sioban Wilkinson. In the second round McCully/Norman had another close match which they won 7-5 2-6 1-0 while Usher Sillitoe were cruisig home 6-1 6-3. With Bisham Abbey having dropped out of Division 4 and Ascot leading by a country mile, our team look sure to finish mid-table with a match to play.
Mixed 3 were away against Ascot 2 in Division 5E. It was a very long match which the Crows side eventually lost 1-3 but they lost two deciding tie-breaks so could have won on another day. Both pairs won their first set in round one but lost the second and the deciding tie-break, Mark Callaghan/Alison Nicholson losing 6-4 2-6 0-1 to David Frieson/Fiona Gale and Andrew Morrison/Jenny Partridge losing 7-6 3-6 0-1 to Mark Lejman/Ruth Graham. In the second round Morrison/Partridge had their efforts rewarded with a 6-3 4-6 1-0 win against Frieson/Gale but Callaghan/Nicholson lost 3-6 3-6 to Lejman/Graham. With Bisham Abbey occupying the single relegation slot having withdrawn, the team finish in 5th place and should remain in the division.
On the last weekend of the month, Boys 14U A scored their first win of the season with a 4-2 win in their postponed match against Caversham Park on Saturday. Jake Griffiths lost a tough singles 2-6 4-6 against Christian Rowbotham but Jonathan Snymansquared the match with a convincing 6-1 6-0 win over Stephen Susani Haines. A 6-2 6-2 win in the doubles meant victory for the Crows team who now sit in 4th place in Division 1B.
On Sunday morning, our three Men’s teams registered just a single point, although they played 7 deciding tie-breaks between them, winning just two.
Men’s 1 were away against Maidenhead 2 in Division 2 and, despite having our Men’s Doubles champions, John Phillips and Jon Blatchford, and former Men’s Singles champion, James Brennan, in the team, were unable to win a rubber against the team lying second in what is turning out to be a very tough division. Phillips/Blatchford started well against Alexander Trill/Sanjo Mathew but lost the first set 5-7 and the second 2-6. James Brennan/Al Galloway lost 2 and 0 to Ricardo Antunes/Steven Woolland and then 1 and 4 to Trill/Mathew in the second round. Phillips/Blatchford restored some pride for the Crows, coming back to win the second set 6-4 against Antunes/Wooland after losing the first 2-6 but were unable to clinch the deciding tie-break, making it 4-0 to the home team.
Fielding a team with one change from the one that had beaten Wokingham 1 4-0 in the previous round, Men’s 2 went down 0-4 against Wokingham 2, losing 3 deciding tie-breaks in the course of a match which, on another day, could have been 3-1 to the home side. Matt Paxton/Michael Harris began with a 4-6 2-6 loss against the visiting first pair Dan Nadel/Alex Soto while Russell Finch/Jim Hawes went into a deciding tie-break against Jean-Francois Perras/David Durrell only to lose 3-6 6-2 0-1. In the second round both matches went to deciding breakers with Paxton/Harris losing 4-6 6-3 0-1 and Finch/Hawes losing 3-6 6-2 0-1. The Crows team are currently 5th in Division 4 and, with the bottom 4 teams playing each other in the final round of the season, they probably need to win against Ascot to avoid any chance of relegation.
Men’s 3 were also involved in a close match with their tie away against Wokingham 3 also involving three deciding tie-breaks. David Stone/Chris Torkington started by winning their first set against Andy Hopkins/Adam Hurst before losing the second 2-6 but recovering to take the deciding tie-break. Richard McCully/Andy Stone found the home 2nd pair Palminder Sagoo/Philip Woolfenden a handful and lost 2 and 2 but they fought brilliantly in their second round match against Hopkins/Hurst to take two out of the three tie-breaks, winning 7-6 6-7 1-0. Stone/Torkington were unlucky not to beat the strong Sagoo/Woolfenden pairing, going down in the deciding tie-break to lose 6-2 3-6 0-1 but the team got a point in losing by a set and are comfortably in 4th place in Division 6E with a match to play.