The final Saturday in the Men’s Doubles League saw wins for Men’s 1 and Men’s 2 and a losing draw for Men’s 3 who may rue their generosity in agreeing to play on Reading’s grass courts which probably cost them the Division 6B title.
Men’s 1 confirmed their superiority in Division 4B with a 3-1 win against Twyford 3. James Brennan & David Smith had 6-2 6-3 wins against Andy Vyronos & Rupesh Ahluwalia and Ponraj Ramasubbu & Malwinder Sidhu while Matt Paxton & Vince Brooks had tough 3 setters against both pairs, losing to Ramasubbu & Sidhu 2-6 6-2 0-1 but beating Vyronos & Ahluwalia 6-4 2-6 1-0 to ensure the 3 points. Having dropped just one point and 3 rubbers all season, the team will be tested more next summer in Division 3.
While the first team were at home playing Twyford’s 3rds, the seconds were away at Twyford facing a tricky match against their 2nd team in Division 4A. The loser of this match faced the ignominy of relegation to Division 5 so there was a lot resting on the outcome. Jon Blatchford & John Phillips made a good start by beating the experienced pairing of Johnny Worral & Stephen Billington 6-4 6-4 and Jim Hawes & Anthony Hayes were unlucky to lose a close match 5-7 4-6 against Nigel Bailey & Nicholas Webb. In the second round, Blatchford & Phillips kept the Crows’ hopes alive with a convincing 6-1 6-3 win against Bailey & Webb and, with Hawes & Hayes doing just enough, despite losing 4-6 3-6, against Worral & Billington, it was a 2-2 draw and a win by 40 games to 37.
Meanwhile, Men’s 3, who started the day at the top of Division 6B, level on points with Wargrave 3 but marginally ahead on sets percentage, travelled to Reading, having agreed to play on their grass courts. In hindsight this decision may have cost them the Division title because the courts were very bumpy and not really fit for playing league matches on. Rob Hughes & Andy Stone were well beaten 6-1 6-2 by Mark Janson & Hideaki Takasu, before the Crows’ pair could get used to the vagaries of the surface. However, Mike Smith & Chris Beckingham fared somewhat better, after losing the opening game on serve against Mark Graham & Mahin Abdul, only failing to level at 5-5 when, not for the first time, the ball landed on the court and rolled along the grass with Smith in a good position to hit a winning shot. Having conceded the first set 4-6, the Crows’ pair did well to retrieve the second 6-3 with Beckingham showing his athletic ability with some “Becker-esque” dives to retrieve points from seemingly impossible situations. The pair went on to win the deciding tie-break 11-9 to level the match. Performance of the day went to Stone & Hughes who calmly beat Graham & Abdul 6-4 6-1 despite the disappointment of numerous bad bounces going against them. This left Smith & Beckingham needing to beat Janson & Takasu but, although they came within touching distance of the first set, losing it 4-6, they succumbed 1-6 in the second. So the team gained a well deserved point but left feeling they had been beaten by the court rather than the opposition and, with Wargrave gaining 2 points from a win by 3 games at home to Basildon, the team have to settle for 2nd place in Division 6B but promotion nevertheless.