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With the 2013/14 National League season now complete, we have compiled a list of match reports for each division. Congratulations to all of the winners and runners-up and a big thank you to all of the participants, and particularly the captains, for taking the time and effort in organising your fixtures and supporting this great event. We hope to see all of the existing teams playing next year, plus the addition of more. Jon and Ben will be happy to watch from the sidelines as Adrian Kemp takes over the administration role for the National League next season.
Division 2 – from Lewis Williams (Prested)
In a fitting end to the season, the two players at the top of the MVP table faced off in the first string singles. Phil Dunn (RTC) and Jules Camp (CURTC) traded games to 3-3 in the first set but then tight serving and a few uncharacteristic errors from Jules gave Phil the set 6-3. The second set was even tighter with Jules reaching 5-4 but he was unable to reach set point and went on to lose the set 6-5 and with it the first rubber in an exact reversal of their encounter at Cambridge earlier on in the season.
The second string singles was between Alex Evans (CURTC, youth) and Simon Barker (RTC, experience). This rubber was characterised by relentless retrieving from Simon and a few too many unforced errors from Alex. While many of the games did get to deuce, the game points all seemed to go one way with experience triumphing over youth 6-1, 6-2 giving RTC an unassailable 2-0 lead and with it the division title.
The dead-rubber doubles was always going to be difficult for RTC without James Sohl in the team (tonsillitis keeping him away). Cambridge dominated the service end with Jules playing calmly at the back while Alex barely missed a volley at the net. After a poor start going 1-4 down, RTC managed to string together a few games to reach 4-4 but that was to be all with Cambridge running out 8-4 winners.
Thanks to Nick Wood for marking the final, to Jon and Ben for organising the league and the IRTPA (?) for covering the marking and food costs for the final.
A scorching early summer day signalled that the real tennis season was coming to its close, but the stakes at this point couldn’t be higher. Having been undefeated all year the Moreton Morrel team of Philip Shaw-Hamilton, Tom Bomford and Tom Lewis went into the final full of confidence and expectation. All that stood in their way was the Petworth House team comprising James Law, Nick Harris and Patrick Colvin who had also been on a bit of a roll since Christmas.
First to enter the “sauna” was Tom Bomford and Nick Harris. Nick, a giant of a man, began very well; matching Tom’s boasting game and hitting the ball into all the targets with extreme power. Tom seemed to struggle to adjust to the pace of play and made several uncharacteristic mistakes, falling 4-3 behind. Were Moreton rattled, was the occasion getting to them? Not one bit, Tom regained his composure and sailed through the next 6 games in a row to take the first set and a 3-0 lead in the second. This proved enough to break the confidence of Nick who began to miss his targets more frequently and Tom ran out a comfortable winner 6-4 6-2. 1-0 Moreton.
Next, Philip took on Patrick and with both players retrieving fantastically the score had only edged to 2-2 after what seemed like an age. However, Patrick began to find the corners with good length and pace, and with Philip making a few errors off the return of serve and penthouses, Patrick took the first set 6-2. A couple of tight marking calls caused Philip to refocus in the second set, carving the ball around the court with more cut and conviction, cruising to a 4-2 lead. Patrick’s retrieving began to wear on Philip but at 5-4 it still looked like the match would go to a 3rd set. Unfortunately it was not to be as Patrick went on to win 6-2 6-5. Moreton Morrell 1, Petworth House 1.
Finally, it was the decider between Tom Lewis and Petworth assistant professional James Law. Tom, wielding his league MVP racket started strongly with his solid serve and return of serve game. With James making a lot of errors as he struggled to adjust to the court, Tom stormed through the first set 6-1. It looked as if the second set would go in the same fashion, but Tom dumped a series of easy winners into the net, highlighted by a double fault on game point, chase 1 yard. This culminated in James taking a 2-1 lead, giving him the confidence to start cracking some nice volleys off Tom’s forces. At 4-4 it all looked a bit nervy, but in spite of this Tom came out on top in a couple of long rests to take the set and the match 6-1 6-4.
With that Moreton clinched the title for the 2-1. Well done to all of the players for 3 hard fought matches and thanks to Philip for his organisation throughout the year.
Division 6 – from Simon Edmond (RTC)
RTC were quick out of the blocks, as second string Stephen Goss took the first set 6-0 against William Russell. The home player is a fighter, however, and he cut down the errors to claw his way back into the match. William took the second set 6-2, but the third set was much tighter than the previous two, swinging one way and then the other. The turning point came with Stephen serving at 3-2 and 40-0 up, as William snatched the service end and then the game before stepping up a gear to close it out 6-3. First blood to Cambridge.
Oxford vs Petworth at Oxford
Petworth won 2-1.
The Oxford team dominated the group matches and finished top. This included a convincing 3-0 away win at Petworth . Their only loss in the group matches was a home match also against Petworth. After scraping into the play-offs, by only one point over RTC and Seacourt,, Petworth hit their stride with a close 2-1 win over MURTC in which George Andrews won a typically close hard fought match (5-6, 6-5, 6-4), injuring himself in the process. Petworth captain David Fortune felt relaxed enough to go on holiday for the final leaving Charlie Maunder, Richard White and replacement Simon Armstrong to play the final against Oxford alone. In the first match Charlie took on Oxford top seed Jean De Pourtales and won the first set. Jean came back in the second set but Charlie secured the third set winning 6-3, 3-6, 6-3, it was close all the way. Second string Richard White then played Will Rowsell who won the first set making full use of his dynamic serving action but then Richard started the comeback of all time. However, at 5-3 up in the third set it looked like Oxford were about to level the match . Unfortunately for Will, Richard had other ideas and played all the critical points with determination and skill. In the end winning 2-6, 6-4, 6-5. Shortly afterwards Richard was heard to remark: “I never give up! ” So Petworth had won the match 2-0. In the dead rubber the left-hand railroad serve of Chris Milford was too strong for Simon Armstrong; Chris won 6-1, 6-0. After the match the Oxford team provided excellent dinner and wine, gratefully received by Petworth, before they travelled home.
Division 9 -from Justin Gregory (RTC)
The final of the division 9 National League saw RTC travel to Moreton Morrell on Saturday 31st May. The first match had Martin Trees (MMTC) take on Justin Gregory (RTC). Justin got off to a good start and took the first set 6-3. After a couple of tight games with numerous deuces at the start of the second, Justin went into a 5-0 lead in the second set. Martin launched a late comeback, winning 2 games on the bounce, but after regaining the serve, Justin managed to close out the match, winning the second set 6-2.
The second match saw Alan Moug (MMTC) against Harriet Ingham (RTC). Harriet got off to a quick start, racing to a 3-0 lead in the first set. However Alan started to find his range and after winning a 15 minute game to get to 3-3, took the first set 6-4. Harriet regrouped during the second set and after some good tennis won the second set 6-3. There was never a lead of more than 1 game in the third set, with Alan nipping in front and being constantly pegged back. Harriet went ahead at 5-4 and had 2 match points, saved with some excellent serving by Alan. The deciding game was nerve racking for all spectators, but some more excellent serving from Alan helped to see him over the line, winning the final set 6-5.
The deciding rubber was Steve Watson (MMTC) against Richard Lawrence (RTC). Steve took a 5-3 lead in the first set, and despite a comeback from Richard took the first set 6-5. Again Steve took a lead in the second set, going 4-2 up, before Richard mounted another comeback to take the second set 6-5. The league came down to a deciding set, and considering the circumstances the level of tennis was very high. Neither player could get a lead of more than a game, but with the set level at 4-4 Richard managed to find some good serves and went 5-4 ahead. Steve found a good return in the final game for chase 2 yards, and the players changed ends at 40-15 to Richard. A great cross-court return falling at 1 yard saw Richard win the match, and RTC took the match 2 rubbers to 1.