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.