The last five finals of the Ashford Lawn Tennis Club tournaments of 2015 were completed over the weekend of the 17th & 18th October.
The first final was the Handicap Mixed Doubles featuring Esther Waghorn & David Allen against David’s wife Penny Allen & Alan Hall, umpired valiantly in the extremely cold wind by Elias Mattar. Multiple layers of clothing were required, but it seems Esther was trying to distract Alan Hall by continually removing layers throughout the match! Penny & Alan, who had a handicap of -15, started well, and took the first set relatively easily 6-3. But Esther and David fought back in the second and won 6-4. Even with “sudden-death” deuces, the match looked like it would exceed the two hours allotted, and this proved to be the case. The third set was very tense, especially towards the end, and the final point (on a sudden-death deuce) was won by Esther & David to win the set 7-5, and the match. The finalists were applauded by an ever-increasing number of spectators.
The second final to get under way was the Handicap Ladies’ Singles final featuring Rachel Banks and Raji Sharma-Drake, this match being umpired by Keith Claxton. Rachel had a handicap of -30, and being a first team player, also had only one serve, while Raji was on a handicap of zero. Raji tried her best to beat her very on-form opponent, and even succeeded in lobbing her a couple of times, but Rachel came out on top winning 6-4, 6-3.
The third final of the weekend, the Handicap Men’s Singles final featuring Gudrat Guluzade and Ben Laffont, got under way slightly later because of the previously long-running H’cap Mixed Doubles match. It was officiated by Elias Mattar who had been “defrosted” from the umpire’s chair with some hot black coffee. Gudrat and Ben (on the same handicap) produced some outstandingly powerful shots, along with some superb serving, where it was difficult to see where the ball actually landed due to the speed. Perhaps because Gudrat and Ben also play as a doubles partnership, they know each other’s game very well, but Ben benefited more and came out the winner 6-4, 6-2.
After each final the winners and runners-up were presented with their trophies by our President Jill Stanton.
Sunday’s weather was somewhat better, and we even had some watery sunshine, but there was always the threat of a dark cloud overhead. The fourth final was the Handicap Men’s Doubles final featuring Gudrat Guluzade & Ben Laffont against Alan Procter & Graham West. Raji Sharma-Drake kindly acted as umpire, even though she received some friendly ribbing from Alan and Graham. Initially, Gudrat and Ben struggled as their handicap was -30, and their opponents were +15. And with the style of play Alan and Graham produced, they lost the first set 6-0. But in the second set, Gudrat & Ben seemed to alter their style of play and coped better with the three points’ difference in handicap and came through to take the second set 6-4. But in the third set, Alan and Graham regained the upper hand and came through winners by two sets to one, 6-0, 4-6, 6-4.
The last tournament final of the ALTC season was the Handicap Ladies’ Doubles final which was excellently umpired by Ben Laffont. This final featured Rachel Banks & Katarina Bunce (with a handicap of -30) against Raji Sharma-Drake & Tessa Whitehorn (with a handicap of zero). Additionally, Rachel & Katarina (as first team players) only had a single serve. Consequently, with their serving not working too well, Raji & Tessa took the first set 6-3. But in the second and third sets, Rachel & Katarina’s serving improved and they took control, winning them both, resulting in a two sets to one victory of 3-6, 6-1, 6-2.
President Jill Stanton, who had been in attendance throughout all the weekend’s five finals, presented the trophies to all the winners and the runners-up.
I’d like to pass on my appreciation to all those members (especially committee members) who have assisted both me and the club throughout the year during the ALTC tournaments. Now having been on the committee, I have noted the amount of work, effort and commitment, mostly unseen by the majority of members, which is done to ensure the smooth running of the tennis club. Without them, you wouldn’t be enjoying tennis, and I wish to pass on my thanks to all those concerned.
Best wishes to all the members for 2016.
Gary Clements, Tournament Organiser.