The new year started well for our Men’s Teams with two wins and a losing draw. Men’s 1 hosted Bisham Abbey 1 with their strongest team and if we could field these players for every match the team would be higher than 4th in Division 2. Another resounding 4-0 win against the bottom team in the division to go along with the 4-0 win against 7th placed Maidenhead has virtually ensured we will remain in Division 2 for next season. Jon Blatchford & John Phillips started with a 6-0 6-2 win against Norman Bhargava & Mark Neal and followed up in the second round with a 6-1 6-0 win against Mark Crawley & Jit Patel. Meanwhile Andy Sayer & James Brennan were winning 6-4 6-0 against Crawley & Patel and 6-3 6-1 against Bhargava & Neal.
Men’s 2 had a long trip down the M4 to play Newbury 1 in Division 5W and their 3-1 win puts them top of the table, three points ahead of Windsor 5 who have a match in hand. David Smith & Russell Finch had a reasonably straightforward 6-3 6-3 win over the colourful pairing of Christopher & Harvey Rainbow followed by a 6-0 6-2 stroll against Chris Horner & Luke Horton. It wasn’t quite so straightforward for Chris Torkington & Matt Paxton who had to battle to win 6-4 7-6 against Horner & Horton. In the second round, they lost in a deciding tiebreak against the Rainbows but, by then, the match was already won.
In Division 6E, Men’s 3 did well to take a point off a strong 3rd placed Wokingham 3 side to keep them out of the relegation spot. Steve Stow & Peter Lindholm lost their first set 4-6 against Dave Mccarthy & Andrew Hopkins but came back well to take the second 6-1 and clinch the deciding breaker. It was a similar story in the second round, losing the first set 3-6 against Ollie Bryant & Andrew Gardner but winning the second 6-0 and again taking the deciding tie break. These scores gave a measure of the quality of the Wokingham players so it came as no surprise when Andy Johns & Derek Harman, both playing in their first match of the season, found themselves outclassed.
On the Sunday afternoon in Ladies’ League Division 7, Ladies’ 2 were playing just their second match of the season, following postponements and bad weather, and the 3 points they gained for a 4-0 win away at Shiplake puts them into 4th place in the division. Cath Sillitoe & Alison Nicholson had a long first set against Kate Binning & Helma Marrow, winning a first set tie-break and taking the second set 6-2. On the other court Maddy Dunckley & Jenny Partridge had won 6-2 6-2 against Sharon Hearn & Julia Foskett before the other match had got as far as the first set tie-break, giving the visitors a 2-0 win at halfway. The scores were similar in the second round, this time with Dunckley & Partridge eventually winning 7-6 6-3 against Binning & Marrow while Sillitoe & Nicholson enjoyed a cup of tea in the warm clubhouse, having won their match 6-2 6-1.
The following weekend, Ladies’ 1 had a good 3-1 win against second placed Marlow in Division 3 to lift them to 5th in the table. However, they have a match in hand, with three of the four teams ahead of them level or one ahead on points. Emma Knowles & Tina Stern won 6-1 6-3 against the home first pair, Jocelyn Finch & Karen Scarles and then romped through 6-0 6-0 against Thelma Craig & Ruth Harrison. Jenny Sheppard & Ravinder Norman found it slightly tougher against Craig & Harrison but still won 6-3 6-4 to secure the 3 points. They had a tough battle against Finch & Scarles, though, winning the first set 7-6 but dropping the second 2-6 as they tired and, in a final effort, narrowly losing the deciding tie-break 9-11.
On the same day our 18U Boys’ team won their match away against Wokingham in Division B. Dan Rippon, having recently had his rating raised from 10.1 to 9.2, found himself up against a very strong Angelo Augustine who was already rated 9.1. The score doesn’t really reflect the quality of the rubber which Augustine won 6-2 6-0. In the second singles, however, Thomas Opalka was able to level the match score, winning 6-1 6-4 against Sean Collier before he and Rippon won a very tight first set 7-6 in the doubles and took the second set 6-1 to win the match. Since the two 18U divisions have only 6 clubs entered between them, it means our boys only have one more match, against Latika in March, so Caroline will be trying to organise more competitive opportunities for our players.
On to the next weekend for Round 4 of the Mixed Doubles League. Mixed 1 were at home against a strong Bracknell 2 team in Division 3 and they were unlucky not to have finished with at least a point. Emma Knowles & John Phillips just missed out in two tie-breaks, losing 6-7 6-7 against Rebecca Howard & George Spanswick, while Tina Stern & Matt Paxton put in a creditable performance against Maggie Chantry & Nick Profitt but lost 2-6 4-6. In the second round, Knowles & Phillips won 6-2 6-3 but Stern & Paxton had no answer against Howard & Spanswick, losing 2-6 2-6.
In Division 4, Mixed 2 faced top of the table Wargrave 2 and lost 0-4 all in straight sets. The division leaders were just too strong for Alison Nicholson & Mark Callaghan and Simon Usher & Ravinder Norman.
In Division 5E, Mixed 3 had a tough battle against Sonning 1, winning 3-1, but it was very nearly 4-0. Jenny Partridge & Andrew Morrison won a close match 6-4 7-5 against the home first pair, Sheila Scott & Tim Embleton, and Jenny Sheppard, playing with team debutant Matt Mead, nearly made it 2-0 but, in fact, just lost 6-6 5-7 to Jenny Taylor & Bill Witkowski. In the second round, Partridge & Morrison saw off Taylor & Witkowski 6-2 6-4 while Sheppard & Mead were winning in another close match against Scott & Embleton, eventually taking it 7-6 6-4 to secure the three points. A win against Phyllis Court in their final match will ensure their place in the division, although with bottom placed BCS having to play unbeaten Ascot in their final match, the result is probably academic.
On the last weekend of the month, Ladies 1 were playing their postponed match against Maidenhead 3 in Division 3 and their winning draw was enough to put them into 3rd place, level on points with Caversham and Maidenhead. Emma Knowles & Tina Stern had a good start, winning their first set 6-2 against Ann Chance & Susan Topchik, but they found it tougher in the second set winning 7-5. Jenny Sheppard & Ravinder Norman battled well against Gillian Peplow & Rosemary Morton but were unable to break their resolve and lost 4-6 2-6. Their job in round two was now to get as many games as possible against the visitors’ first pair with Knowles & Stern likely to get a win. Knowles & Stern duly obliged, winning 6-2 6-1 and Sheppard & Norman’s 3-6 3-6 against Chance & Topchik was enough to win the match by 3 games.
The following morning, Men’s 1 had a trip to Caversham Park to play their 1st team in Division 2. John Phillips & Jon Blatchford started badly against a very strong first pair, Steven Ratcliffe & Edwin Lau, losing 0-6, but they responded well to take the second set 6-3 only to lose the deciding tie-break. James Brennan & David Smith lost their first set, too, 4-6 against Logan Turner & James Springett, but they won the second by the same score and took the tie-break to square the match. However, Brennan & Smith found Ratcliffe & Lau too strong in the second round, losing 2-6 2-6 and it was left to Phillips & Blatchford to salvage a point from the tie by winning a close rubber 7-6 4-6 1-0 against Turner & Springett. The result leaves them in 5th place on 7 points and, realistically, it needs points from the last match against top of the table Peppard 1 to ensure they don’t get overtaken by Maidenhead on 6 or Bracknell, who have a match in hand. Hopefully we will be able to field another strong team in the final match of the winter season.
It was plain sailing for Men’s 2 who entertained Twyford 3 at home in Division 5W. But it wasn’t very entertaining for the visitors who only managed 4 games from the match. Matt Paxton & Russell Finch won their two rubbers 6-1 6-0 and Jim Hawes & David Stone won their’s 6-0 6-1. When asked whether the Crows’ team played really well or were the opposition rubbish, Hawes replied, “I think both pairs were efficient rather than lights-out tennis… and none of them could serve!” The team really need 3 points from their final match, away against Peppard 2, who are in 7th place, to ensure they don’t get caught by Windsor 5 for the single promotion spot.
In Division 6E, Men’s 3 came up against some useful players away at Home Park Windsor and lost 1-3. Steve Stow & Nathan Osborn lost 4-6 0-6 against the strong home first pair, Su Chaoqiang & Matt Goff, while Andy Johns & Derek Harman were losing 1-6 3-6 against Peter Blanshard & Paul Batty. Stow & Osborn restored some pride for the visitors in the second, winning 6-2 6-4 against Blanshard & Batty but Johns & Harman had no answers against Chaoqiang & Goff, losing 0-6 1-6. The team are in 7th place, 2 points clear of bottom placed Wargrave 5 who they play next.