Go West: James blossoms at Orchard Tennis Club's finals day
PUBLISHED: 09:43 26 July 2012 | UPDATED: 10:06 26 July 2012
JAMES West had an Orchard Tennis Club finals day to remember as he triumphed in two events.
West reached the finals of all three of the competitions he’d entered – the men’s singles, men’s doubles and the mixed doubles – one of only two players to do so.
As defending champion in both, James went on to win the singles against Stuart Leach 6-4, 6-3 and also the men’s doubles with his partner Danny Jordan against Aleem Cummins and Stuart Leach.
James, at one point, looked like he was going for a hat-trick but despite having three match points on his serve in the mixed doubles, he and his partner Helen Gill failed to convert them.
In a thrillingly tight match, they had another three match points but yet again failed to convert, handing the title to the rock steady, defending champions Julia Howard and Stuart Leach in a deciding championship tie break.
Fatigue may have played a part in it perhaps but Stuart Leach was the other player who had played in all three finals so it was good to see Stuart being rewarded for his consistency.
Of added interest for the spectators was the first appearance of Helen Gill as she is a recently joined new player to the club.
With a scorching forehand, she was easily a match for club coach Julia Howard and is a great new asset for the club.
In the ladies’ singles, Clare Robinson yet again held on to her title, beating ladies’ captain Johanna Houlahan with ease 6-0, 6-1.
Clare has won the singles 12 times in the last 18 years and was once again defending champion this year. Robinson also won the ladies’ doubles with her partner Rae Walter against Gill Gunnell and Natalie Skilbeck 6-3, 6-4.
The age range between the youngest and oldest player was about 30 years which clearly shows the depth and breadth of talent within the club.
Not content with one win, Rae Walter went on to win the over 50s mixed doubles in a new partnership. Rae and Paul Ketchley were the defending champions in this category and usually play together but in a twist of fate, Paul was unable to play and Kim Patient stepped in to help Rae win.
Their adversaries were Graham Barnes and Sue Neville who have only lost this competition three times in 11 years.
The fourth player to ‘do the double’ was Clare Jobson. Not only did she win the U16 girls’ tournament –for the third year in a row - against Olivia Payne, but she also paired up with Doug Ashworth in the mixed doubles to win the Plate competition against Steph Winfield and Gavin Johnstone in the final.
Spectators commented on Gavin’s sportsmanship and his gentlemanly behaviour on the court with respect to the nervous young player, allowing her to relax and enjoy the game.
Clare finished the match with a convincing smash to take the match 6-3, 6-4.
In the junior tournaments, there were six aged based categories. The U14 boys’ tournament was won by Rob Wells against Adam Hughes and in the U12 boys’ match, Adam Hughes was unlucky again losing to Kuba Hiwa.
The mini’s red, orange and green categories were won by Sam Jordan (son of men’s doubles winner Danny Jordan), Edward Saunders and Thomas Ashworth.
With some promising juniors rising through the ranks, it all bodes well for the future of Orchard’s teams.
The prizes were presented by club president Roger Freeman, who was unable to attend last year due to ill health, so it was good to see him back, fit and well.
Big thanks must go to the main tournament organiser Steve Pantall, the catering team headed by Ann Wesson and Mark Carveley for the BBQ and scones and cream, the umpires on the day and club chairman Dave Wesson who assisted Roger in giving out the prizes to all the runners-up and winners.