After months of waiting for club tournaments and summer holidays to be done and dusted, the day of the much-anticipated final between Grafton and Telford Park arrived, on Sunday 13 September.
Their last meeting had been a close affair, with Telford narrowly taking the victory and all signs were that this would be a similar battle, Telford reaching the final with 24 points and Grafton snapping at their heels with 22 points.
Hosted by Grafton and blessed with a sunny day, the final kicked off with the Men’s Singles.
Mike Young (G) and Peter Gaspar (TP) played a hard and steady game with lots of long rallies and both sides taking it in turns each to take the lead.
Peter finally managed to close out the first set 6-4 and took the second 6-1, despite some tough resistance from Mike.
The Ladies 40+ was also hard fought between Julie Watson (G) and Caroline de St.Quentin (TP).
Julie got off to a good start, dominating for the first few games but Caroline dug in and fought back to equalise, eventually taking the first set 6-4.
The second set saw Caroline build her lead steadily, winning the crucial points to take it 6-1.
In the Boys Singles, Telford’s Remel Alvares proved to be just too strong for Grafton’s Ivan Barker in a game of big serves and some powerful cross-court play.
Despite some great defensive play and hard fought points Telford took the match in straight sets.
With Telford 3-0 up after the first round, it was time for Grafton to make their mark.
The Ladies Doubles saw Lucy Puddle & Mary Prickett (G) take on Juliet Griffiths & Sally Binny (TP).
Both sides fought long and hard putting on a classic doubles performance with neither side willing to surrender a point through error.
The first set went game for game with Grafton getting the all-important break to take the first set 6-4.
Telford came back even stronger in the second set, but Grafton held their own to reach a 6-6 tie-break.
The gloves were off now and both sides showed what they were made of, Grafton eventually prevailing to take their first win of the day.
Meanwhile, the match of the day was shaping up on the singles court between Men’s Vets and old rivals, Murray Sutton (G) and Keith Lavender (TP), who played a really close match with every serve, rally and point fiercely fought over.
The first set went to Keith, but Murray wasn’t going to be won over easily and both sides dug deep to take the second set to a thrilling tie-break at 6-6, which Keith finally nudged ahead in to take the match, but it could just as easily have gone the other way.
In the Men’s Doubles, Paul Flatters & Alex Hamlin (G) took on Telford’s James Binney & Tom Fellows in a fast paced match
Both sides were evenly matched and looked like we were in for another titanic struggle.
Telford got an early break and despite some tough play from Grafton managed to surge ahead and take the first set 6-1.
The second set saw Grafton put up a real fight, but Telford managed to hold their own to take it 6-3.
In the Ladies’ Singles, Rose Merriman (G) faced MIranda Kirwan (TP) and both sides traded points game for game, but Miranda got the breaks and finally won the match 6-3 6-4.
In the Girls’ Singles, Katy Diamond (G) put up a good fight against a strong Anna Patchet (TP), who played a faultless game to win 6-1 6-2.
The final match was the Mixed Doubles with Jan Dalling & Keith Bower (G) taking on Sally Thurgood & Steve Graham (TP).
Telford started off strongly and despite most games going to deuce, took the first set 6-2.
The second set saw Jan & Keith pull out all the stops to get the vital break and capitalise to draw even, winning it 4-6.
Opting to play a third set rather than a tie-break, both sides battled it out in earnest and, with Telford getting an early break and surging ahead to 4-2, it looked like it was game over, but Grafton weren’t going to give in that easily and clawed back two games to make it an even 4-4.
Telford finally won the set 6-4, but it was a very close affair.
Telford Park defeats Grafton, finally winning the day by taking 8 rubbers to 1, but it truly was a case of the scores not reflecting the matches.
Several of the games could have gone either way and it could well have turned out very differently.
It was a great day with some excellent tennis and stiff competition.
Our thanks to Grafton for being such excellent hosts, great opponents and such gracious losers – it was a great day!
Report by Steve Graham, Telford Park Millennium Cup Captain
For the detailed match results click HERE.