Club Championship 2023
Sun, 08 Oct 2023 00:00
The weekend of 16th and 17th September saw seven of the ten finals scheduled over the two days take place in damp, but thankfully relatively rain-free conditions.
The first final to be played was the men's handicap doubles, which saw Mike Thornton and Steve McCarrick edge out Gordon Rutter and Shay Whitfield 4-3, 4-2. Gordon and Shay looked like they were going to turn it around in the second set, after taking a 2-0 lead, but Mike and Steve stormed back, taking four games in a row to clinch the title.
Hot on their heels came Janet Robinson and Joan Shutt taking on Debby Kerr and Jane Park in the women's handicap doubles. This was an almighty tussle, with Janet and Joan bagelling Debby and Jane 4-0 in the first set, only to find Debby and Jane counter-attacking with great purpose in the second set to take it 4-2. So, the matter had to be settled by a 10-point tie-break. The febrile atmosphere of the match was accentuated by heckling from the spectators at the side, as umpire Jane Cockburn attempted to keep the tie-break in order. Eventually, Janet and Joan prevailed, sneaking it 13-11 to take the honours.
The third and last final on Saturday was the mixed handicap doubles. Lilian Brown and Ian Robinson came out on top in the first set, taking it 4-2 over Joan Shutt, fresh from her women's doubles victory, and Gordon Rutter. The second set was nip-and-tuck, reaching 3-3, which meant a 7-point tie-break would decide it. Joan and Gordon raced through the tie-break, and in doing so took the match to a deciding 10-point tie-break. Ian and Lilian took an early lead, which they never gave up, despite the continued fight from Joan and Gordon, and took the tie-break for the loss of 6 points, thus becoming mixed handicap doubles champions.
So, to Sunday. Kicking off proceeding were Tracey Gaskill and Nuan Armstrong in the women's open singles. Tracey's experience in numerous finals helped her fend off the stubborn resistance from Nuan, with the 6-1, 6-0 scoreline not really telling the full story of a match with many long rallies and narrow margins.
Next up was the women's open doubles final, with defending champions Jill Taylor and Tracey Gaskill taking on Steph Cox and Lilian Brown. Again, experience told, the defending champions retaining their title with a fine 6-0, 6-2 victory.
Two more finals took place concurrently on courts 1 and 4. On Court 1 Rod Hall oversaw Janet Robinson and Guy Rollisson taking on Nuan Armstrong and Alex Laude in the mixed open doubles. A very close first set was taken 6-4 by Guy and Janet, and the match was levelled as Nuan and Alex eased through the second set to take it 6-2. So, another deciding 10-point tie-break ensued. The inspired pairing of Janet and Guy took command of the tie-break, winning it decisively 10-5 to become champions.
Meanwhile, on Court 4 the defending champion of the men's handicap singles, Gavin Sked, was taking on Gordon Rutter, looking to reverse his fortunes in the two previous finals he played the previous day. The attacking play came mainly from Gordon, but Gavin's excellent defensive skills meant that Gordon simply could not kill off the points. After a tight start, Gavin pulled away in the first set to take it 6-2. The second set saw chances come and go for Gordon, and Gavin hanging in there until the time was ripe for him to strike. Gavin ended up delivering the knockout blow to win the second set 6-4 and emerge the champion.
Three finals, the men's over-55 open doubles, the men's open doubles and the men's open singles were postponed due to injury, the foreboding weather forecast, and scheduling difficulties.
The men's over-55 open doubles final took place at midday on Friday 29th September, and ended up being surprisingly one-sided. When Paul Ward and Alan Hewson took on Mike Thornton and Gordon Rutter in a preliminary round, the former team won only by squeaking it 10-8 in the deciding set tie-break. But in the rematch in the final, Paul and Alan upped their game and romped to a 6-1, 6-2 victory.
The men's open singles final went ahead on Wednesday 11th September, on the first really cool evening of the autumn. All the courts were full, as it was match practice night, but a small crowd braved the chill to watch Alex Laude and Trevor Herron slug it out. It was nip and tuck for a while, before Alex accelerated clear to win 6-3, 6-1 and retain the title.
On-the-spot Impromptu presentations were made at the conclusion of each match for all seven finals that took place on Finals Weekend. The main presentation, though, is to take place at the End of Season Social event at the clubhouse on Friday 13th October. Hopefully there will be a good turnout to recognise the achievements of all the champions at this year's Club Championship.