To win close encounter…
Woodfield Grove hosted Grafton on Sunday 29 April in their second Millennium Cup tie of the season that was to prove a very close encounter.
Unfortunately, Grafton’s first fixture had been postponed due to horrendous weather conditions and, on this occasion, there was now a new look to their squad, with no less than six debutants, all extremely eager to kick off their quest to retain the Millennium Cup.
Again, the weather was not looking good, and there were plenty of hats and scarves in evidence on a very un-spring-like day.
It did not put off the respective squads and battle commenced early, as all the players for round one were eager to get cracking.
First on court were Ali Epton and Danielle Wade competing in the Women’s Over 40s vet’s singles.
Debutant Danielle was looking at a golden set after two games but soon got the feel of WGTC’s courts and the close proximity of the fence at the back of the courts.
Ali kept on returning the shots but Danielle started to recover and took six games in a row from 3-4 to edge first set 6-4 and then raced to 4-0 in the second, with some excellent rallies, and both enjoyed their battle with Grafton ultimately winning the rubber 6-4 6-2.
On the next door court, the Women’s singles match was well under way with WGTC’s Jo Kiernander and Grafton’s Rosie Merriman in seemingly never-ending exchanges.
Jo and Rosie were very well matched and it proved to be a slugfest, with both players retrieving well.
It was an incredibly long first set for 6-2 but was enjoyed by the ever increasing crowd of players and spectators.
In the end, it was Rosie who managed to get the better of the long rallies, finally taking the rubber 6-2 6-2.
On court 3 was the men’s vets, where WGTC’s Captain Jon Elwes battled it out against James Peake, with most rallies comprising of lobs, volleying, drop shots, angles, slices and some overhead smashing.
There were very few games that did not go to deuce and when Jon and James left court, somewhat shattered, many of the WGTC squad thought that it would be the first time their club would need to use its defibrillator!
The scoreline of 6-1 6-1 to WGTC definitely did not reflect the match and the closeness of the rallies.
Moving into Round 2 saw both of the junior matches being played either side of the mixed doubles, which was on the middle court.
On the far court, WGTC’s Alex Grozdanova was making her second appearance in the Millennium Cup after playing last year with a loss against Grafton.
She was keen to have another go and in the pre-match discussion with the Captains, it did not take long for Alex and Amelia Cornish to decide that they would prefer to play a match tiebreak if things went to a third set.
Both players were extremely professional and the match was played with impeccable sportsmanship.
There were some excellent exchanges and some intimidating returns from both players, and there is no doubt that we will be seeing a lot of both players in future tournaments. Alex took the rubber 6-3 6-3.
The boy’s match was extremely good natured with smiles and laughter from both sides, which was great for the crowd to see.
Both WGTC’s Lukas Govan and Grafton’s Michael Sotillo were new to the Millennium Cup and their enthusiasm was infectious, with both boys staying after the match to eat and discuss when they would be playing again.
The match had some really good exchanges but on this occasion, it was Michael who dominated, winning 6-0 6-1.
Things were certainly getting interesting in the competition stakes with Grafton currently up 3-2 with the mixed doubles still being played on centre court.
In truth Grafton’s Captain, Murray Sutton and his partner Emma Webb were slow to get going and struggled to get to grips with Lev Husnu’s heavy topspin.
There was a key game at 2-3 in second set on Murray’s serve when 6 deuces followed and had the visitors won it, this could have sparked them in to action.
Fortunately for WGTC, they did not win! Lev and Naomi Anderson took the rubber, 6-2 6-3.
The tension from the onlooking WGTC and Grafton supporters was rising as the tie was poised at 3–3, with just three more points up for grabs…
The men’s doubles kicked off on court 1 with WGTC’s Joe Thompson & John Nicholls and Grafton’s Tim Bannerjee & Rick Jakubowski being very well matched.
The first set was extremely tight, with Tim and Rick serving for it twice, but the nerves set in and WGTC managed to win a very tight tiebreak 7-5 to take the first set and maintain the momentum for the win in straight sets.
Meanwhile the women’s doubles continued. WGTC’s Jo and Naomi were perhaps feeling the pressure of playing their second matches of the day but there was no question that Grafton’s two Marys, Micklewright & Prickett, played good steady tennis to wear them down and snuff out a late revival as WGTC pulled back from 1-5 to 3-5 with Jo finding some acute angles.
So at 4-4, everything rested on the men’s singles and there was no doubt that it was the ‘Match of the Day’.
The first set went to Grafton 6-3, with the second set showing the same scoreline but this time in favour of WGTC’s Adam Callaghan.
Grafton’s Alan Sheeha looked in big trouble when he lost the first three games of the final tie-deciding set but remembered his coaches’ words ‘Pressure? That’s for tyres’ and levelled at 3 all before finally inching ahead 6-5 and nailing Adam with an impossible get and an immaculate postage stamp lob.
A gripping match and played in excellent spirits leaving Grafton the overall tie winners at 5-4.
WGTC always enjoys playing Grafton and it was great that so many of the respective squads and spectators stayed back to enjoy the homemade food laid on by WGTC’s Jo, Naomi, Pavica and Emily.
It really was a lovely day and for all those who asked, the secret ingredient in the lasagne was bacon…
Match report by Jon Elwes, Millennium Cup Captain, Woodfield Grove TC
Woodfield Grove TC lost to Grafton T&SC, 5-4
(WGTC names first)
Women’s Singles: Jo Kiernander lost to Rosie Merriman, 6-2 6-2; Men’s Singles: Adam Callaghan lost to Alan Sheeha, 3-6 6-3 7-5; Women’s Over 40 Singles: Ali Epton lost to Danielle Wade, 6-4 6-2; Men’s Over 45 Singles: Jon Elwes d James Peake, 6-2 6-1; Girls Under 16 Singles: Alex Grozdanova d Amelia Cornish, 6-3 6-3; Boys Under 16 Singles: Lukas Govan lost to Michael Sotillo, 6-0 6-1; Women’s Doubles: Naomi Anderson & Jo Kiernander lost to Mary Micklewright & Mary Prickett, 6-3 6-3; Men’s Doubles: Joe Thompson & John Nicholls d Tim Bannerjee & Rick Jakubowski, 7-6(5) 6-2; Mixed Doubles: Naomi Anderson & Lev Husnu d Emma Webb & Murray Sutton, 6-2 6-3.