The first finals day of 2018 featured the Men’s Singles, Handicap Singles and Ladies’ Doubles. The final of the Veteran’s Doubles was postponed because there are still two Round Robin matches to play before the semi-finalists can be decided.
After two years finishing as runner-up, Andy Sayer finally took the Men’s Singles title in a tense and high quality 3 set final. Sunday was yet another hot day in the current heatwave with very little cloud for the players or spectators. Sayer’s opponent, John Phillips, was in the final for the first time and he started well, breaking Sayer’s service in the first game and reaching 4-1 with a second break. However, Sayer broke back in the next game as Phillips tried to consolidate his lead, but then lost his own serve to make the score 5-2 to Phillips. Another nervous service game made it 5-3 as Phillips attempted to serve for the set and a strong hold by Sayer meant that Phillips served for the set for the second time at 5-4. This time. however, he served well to take the set 6-4 after a couple of deuces.
In the second set, Sayer held serve to love in the first game and broke to lead 3-1 after four games only for Phillips to break serve and hold his own to level at 3-3. With the temperature rising and Phillips showing signs of struggling in the 30 degree heat, Sayer broke again in the eighth game to lead 5-3. However, Phillips was still determined to wrap the match up in two sets and he broke back again to make it 5-4 only to fail again on his own serve to make it a set apiece.
Sayer had a dreadful start in the final set, losing his serve to love but he won the next four games and it looked to be all over. Phillips thought differently, though, and he summoned up reserves of effort to level the match at 4-4. The next game could have gone either way but Sayer held serve after two deuces and led 5-4 and held his nerve to play some winning returns and take the match in the next game. The result, a win for Sayer, 4-6 6-4 6-4.
The next match was the final of the Handicap Singles and featured junior member Dan Rippon, who had beaten last year’s winner Simon Usher in 9 sets with a handicap of 4 and Hamish McCarthy, a new member this year who had beaten Nick Hudson, also in 9 games in the previous round. In this competition, the players play the best of 9 tie-breaks to 11 and one player is given a starting number of points. In this match, Rippon started on +2. McCarthy started strongly taking the first two games 11-6 11-7 but Rippon came back taking the next three 11-4 11-10 11-5 to lead 3-2. However, McCarthy held his nerve and finished the stronger, taking the next three games 11-3 11-7 11-7 to win the match 5-3. It was a good match with some lengthy rallies and no lack of commitment on either side with McCarthy at one point somersaulting over the net in his attenpt to reach a drop shot and the 17-year-old Rippon showing great court coverage and some stylish shot making.
The final match of the day was a more sedate affair and featured the regular playeres in the Ladies 1st team who were, in effect, celebrating winning Division 5B with a match in hand after beating 2nd placed Windsor 4-0 the previous afternoon. Emma Knowles & Tina Stern faced Jenny Sheppard & Ravinder Norman and the result was 6-1 6-2 to Knowles and Stern after an entertaining match that was a pleasant way to wind up proceedings.
Russell will shortly be announcing the draws for the remaining events – Men’s Doubles, Mixed Doubles and Handicap Doubles – with the next Finals Day scheduled for September 16th.