RLTC Men's 1st Team v Walton 2s - MATCH DRAWN: 2-2
Fri, 11 Jan 2019 00:00
by Iain Ure
Thanks to Antoine de Cottignies, Cameron Kavanagh, Tom Smith and Iain Ure for battling to a hard-fought draw (2-2) against well-matched opposition in the 4th match of the season last weekend.
In the opening rubbers, Antoine & Iain had to adjust to an unfamiliar surface and struggled to find rhythm under pressure from strong opposition. But flashes of brilliance lit up the Walton stronghold - notably Antoine’s ridiculous no-look ‘tweener' lob-winner - but the momentum and key points were with the relentless opposition and Richmond’s lead pair lost their first rubber of the season 6-2. 6-2.
MeanwhileCameron & Tomwere locked in an arm-wrestle with two contrasting styles facing off across the net. Richmond’s 'NextGen' pairing showcased the flamboyant shot-making sort of tennis that sets hearts racing, while Walton displayed feather-touch volleys and conventional stroke-play.
A tight first set went Richmond’s way, but there was something about the mix of styles that flipped in the second set and raced to Walton, who then stole the contest in the championship tiebreak, winning 7-5, 1-6, 0-1
Going in to the reverse rubbers 0-2 down, RLTC just had to rally. Antoine & Iain, stung from their loss in their first rubber, nevertheless started to find their groove. Groundstrokes started getting through and serves found more power and accuracy. Although fluency was below par, they found a way to take control and secure a vital point on the match scoreboard, winning 6-3, 6-2, leaving RLTC hopes resting on Tom & Cameron.
Walton, perhaps feeling confident having rolled Richmond’s first pair, came up against a Richmond pair in resolute and clinical mood Tom & Cam dominated their way to secure an impressive first set. But, refusing to buckle, the Walton 1st pair then found a way to secure the crucial points to make it one set all and tee up the match-defining championship tie-break.
The momentum swung one way and then the next: 'TomCam' had to save (at least) 3 match points, but somehow forced their way back to find Tom 'Usain Bolt' Smith serving for the match. Antoine & Iain watching on had no doubts at this point as ice-cold Tom sent down an unreturnable missile of a serve to seal the rubber and ensure that Richmond earned a point from the tie, winning the rubber 6-2, 4-6, 1-0.
“It did not look good at half-time," says 1st Team captain Iain Ure, "but I am delighted with the way the team pulled through at the end. It could be a crucial point as with just 1 game left in the season, we are sitting in 2nd position in the league. We could finish in any of the top 3 spots and so it's still all to play for": the final match of the season is against table-topping Gardens on 03 Feb!"