Grafton defeats Norbury Park in trophy match:
This year’s Millennium Cup final saw Grafton recapture the coveted trophy after a six year hiatus, eventually taking the last two rubbers played along side each other, and seeing off old friends and rivals Norbury Park, 6-3.
Grafton hosted the event on Sunday 18 September with their customary genial hospitality and generosity – very much appreciated by a large contingent of middle-aged Norbury supporters, most of whom had located the venue via Ordnance Survey map rather than SatNav.
Maybe uniquely, the first four matches all actually commenced on time and what contests ensued!
On Court 1 the Under 16 Boys Singles saw tennis of the highest quality and exceptional sportsmanship from both contestants as every ball hit anywhere near the line was called as ‘good’.
Grafton’s Ivan Barker, in his valedictory performance, just edged out Norbury’s Mark Lovejoy in the first set, only for Mark to come storming back to win the second stanza by a distance.
Then, with another sharp pendulum swing, Ivan regained his focus and swept to victory in the third set in one of the best encounters of the day, 7-5 1-6 6-0.
Meanwhile, on Court 2, regular Grafton Ladies Pair, perennially tanned Monica Parrott and Rachel Codd looked set fair when taking the first set with some very accomplished volleying against Norbury’s Carole Watson and Charmaine Boyd.
Gradually, however, Carole began to find more consistent depth and Charmaine visibly grew in confidence at the net, all feline leaps and pouncing, and the visitors came through in three sets, 7-5 2-6 0-6.
Grafton’s Gerry Beith, making his Millennium Cup debut, distinguished himself in an absorbing battle of wills and skills against Norbury’s vastly experienced and staggeringly obdurate Marek Stzrelichowski in the Mens Vets on Court 3.
Precious little in this one, especially considering Gerry has only been playing regularly for two years, but all credit to Marek too, though, that tungsten mentality seeing him home in two close sets, 6-3 6-4.
Out on Court 4, a very good natured Ladies Singles found Julie Wilson in fine form coming through against Norbury’s Thelma Ziervogel in two straight, but well contested sets, 6-4 6-2.
A little aside…
One moment of levity that needs reporting we feel: Now, whilst there is no discernible slope across the four courts, there must be a mysterious gradient involved as ball after ball trickled down to Court 4 from Court 2…..but when Monica went to retrieve them, Marek (unaware that Gerry had safe possession of THEIR four balls) pursued her across the tarmac, hand outstretched like Oliver Twist demanding them back.
Ok, back to the tennis; so with the overall score 2-2 the next four rubbers got underway.
Quite a feisty Under 16s Girls encounter on Court 1, which Murray Sutton soothed over with a paternal intervention, developed into another fine match, Grafton’s Naela Muhamed proving a fraction steadier than Norbury’s Monica Wiszowaty to take the rubber, 6-3 6-3.
Norbury’s Laura O’Duffy valiantly defied a nasty illness to compete in the Ladies Vets and gave Grafton’s Kath Bower a good run for her money on Court 2.
The Men Singles on Court 3 was a high quality affair, where the scoreline does scant justice to Grafton’s Mike Young’s contribution, with rapidly improving Kelvin Douglas-Gordon [Norbury Park] retrieving a series of ostensibly winning shots from all corners and retaliating with some heavy blows of his own. Great entertainment!
Playing right down to the wire
And so, with the overall score-line at 4-3 in the hosts favour, the Men’s Doubles – already underway – proved to be the pivotal contest and, as the Captains forecast, the most keenly fought battle of the day, with two established teams going toe to toe in a very good spirit.
Norbury’s Terry McGranaghan and Tom Brown took the first set but were edged out in a second set tie-break by Grafton’s Eddie Tomlinson and Alex Hamlin, who maintained momentum to sneak the decider, 4-6 7-6 6-4.
Concurrently, the first set of the Mixed Doubles saw Murray Sutton roll away the years with an imperious half hour’s tennis as he and Nicky Ellison, serving and returning flawlessly throughout, ran away with it for Grafton.
Annemarie O’Hara and Nigel Flay showed their true colours in the second set, but could never quite nose ahead.
Perhaps appropriately a fox prowled into view during the last game of a great day.
Millennium Cup pioneer and leading light, Barbara Wancke, was kind enough to present the trophy to winning Captain, Murray Sutton, in front of a large enthusiastic gathering.
“Last week I was in the President’s Box at the US Open watching Stan Wawrinka beat Novak Djokovic and today I am here watching equally entertaining tennis in the Millennium Cup final,” she said.
“Congratulations to Grafton for landing their third Millennium Cup title and commiserations to Norbury, who put up a great fight but remain, once again, the bridesmaid, having reached the final on several occasions of late.
“This year’s competition has been extremely close all round, which is a credit to all the captains.
On behalf of everyone present, Barbara thanked their hosts, Grafton, for their warm hospitality and looked forward to the next edition of Millennium Cup Competition.
On accepting the trophy, Murray Sutton said: “I’d like to dedicate this win to Molly (his wife) and I won’t be completely happy until we see her back on the court again.”
He concluded by thanking his team and calling for drinks all round.
Report by Nigel Flay, Norbury Park
Grafton defeated Norbury Park , 6-3
[Grafton names first]
Women’s Singles: Julie Wilson d Thelma Ziervogel 6-4 6-2; Men’s Singles: Mike Young lost to Kelvin Douglas-Gordon 6-1 6-2; Women’s Over 40 Singles: Kath Bower d Laura O’Duffy 6-1 6-3; Men’s Over 45 Singles: Gerry Beith lost to Marek Stzrelichowski 6-3 6-4; Girls Under 16 Singles: Naela Muhamed d Monica Wiszowaty 6-3 6-3; Boys Under 16 Singles: Ivan Barker d Mark Lovejoy 7-5 1-6 6-0; Women’s Doubles: Rachel Codd & Monica Parrott lost to Carole Watson & Charmaine Boyd 5-7 6-2 6-0; Men’s Doubles: Eddie Tomlinson & Alex Hamlin d Terry McGranaghan & Tom Brown 4-6 7-6 6-4; Mixed Doubles: Murray Sutton & Nicky Ellison d Annemarie O’Hara & Nigel Flay 6-1 7-5.