Gallery: British championships returns to Hatfield for 11th year in a row
PUBLISHED: 17:13 10 February 2009 | UPDATED: 21:56 26 October 2009
HATFIELD House Tennis Club hosted The Billy Ross-Skinner British Mixed Doubles Invitation Championship over the weekend and there was some superb real tennis on show. This was the 11th successive year that the Hatfield club had hosted the three-day compet
HATFIELD House Tennis Club hosted The Billy Ross-Skinner British Mixed Doubles Invitation Championship over the weekend and there was some superb real tennis on show.
This was the 11th successive year that the Hatfield club had hosted the three-day competition.
And for the first time the event was sponsored by Neptune Investment Management, replacing the British Land Company after a long run as the principal sponsor of real tennis in Britain.
The competition is open to the top 16 ladies available in the world, with their male partners selected from a spread of clubs to provide balanced pairings.
This gives each pair an even chance on paper of winning the title.
The format of the tournament is unusual in that it has a complicated repecharge system.
Therefore, players arriving on an unfamiliar court can have one bad match in the first two rounds and still progress to the final.
This was the case this year with eventual winners Karen Hird and Steve Brewerton beaten in their first match on court by Catherine Walker and Anthony Clake - the double act they went on to beat in the overall final!
As inevitably happens in this competition, the first match on Friday went to three tight sets, which immediately put the tournament an hour behind schedule.
Freddy Adam, from California but representing Oxford, combined well with Hatfield House's Colin Dean to win 6-5, 5-6, 6-4 against Caroline Gilmore and Geoffrey Russell.
They then followed with a straight sets win over Queens pair Jo Sinclair and Ian Fuller to reach the quarters.
In the bottom half, Hird and Brewerton were comfortably beaten 6-3, 6-4 in their first match by Walker and Clake.
However, they then moved up to the top half of the draw through the repecharge to beat Sara Metherell and John Lumley by a 6-2, 6-4 margin for a place in the last eight.
Similarly, the fancied pairing of Sara Reston, from Fontainebleau, and Martin Higney were beaten 6-4, 6-3 by Alex Garside and Hatfield's Nick Brodie in their first match.
They then reversed that result, narrowly beating the same pair 6-1, 5-6, 6-5 in the repecharge.
Manchester's Aldona Greenwood and Hatfield player Jonathan Fisher had an easy passage to the quarters, as did Walker and Clake, although they did drop a tight set against Metherell and Lumley.
Jill Newby and Dominic Wright also had an easy passage through to this stage, but the remaining quarter-finalists only got there through the repecharge system.
Caroline Janes and Robert Frost won a 6-5 final set against Clare Weatherill and Harvey Rawlings, while Viveca Stewart and Andrew Petrie first beat Caroline Gilmore and Geoffrey Russell 6-3, 6-5 and then Sinclair and Fuller 6-1, 5-6, 6-5.
In the quarters, Dean had an off day against the impressive pairing of Hird and Brewerton for a 6-3, 6-3 win.
Greenwood and Fisher had a long match against Janes and Frost, which they won in three sets by 6-3, 4-6, 6-4.
Then Walker and Clake had a comfortable 6-3, 6-1 victory against Stewart and Petrie.
Newby and Wright survived when trailing 3-6, 4-5 and match point, with Higney forced to retire through injury.