From ancient grudge break to new mutiny
As soon as I walked in to Norden Sports Centre scary flashbacks from Tournament Week flooded back to me and then in walked a blast from the past: Steve Ramsbottom. Still breathing, this former Greenmount Youth Club player is still, 56 playing years later, going strong. It was lovely to see him standing in for Telecom and playing so well with his mixed partner, Kath Spillane. The other reunion on the night was between Judith Hamilton and Helen Wharton who, once they’d put to bed the tricky question of who was older than who, reminisced about former school battles (1979 and 81) when they played for Everton and Westholme respectively, before pairing up with each other to play for the town. Happy days!
Soon, however, it was time for the match to start. The first ladies’ doubles pairing of Jane Makey and Judith Hamilton from Telecom faced the Westholme ladies, Lynn Hosegood and Helen Wharton. Some tight serving from Jane enabled Judith to use her steep smash and punishing cross court drives to good effect. Not to be outdone, however, Lynn’s precision at the net, coupled with some effective overhead smashes from her partner, Helen, meant both games were neck and neck. It was a fitting result for this top match to be split between the two teams. On the adjacent court, the men had a similar battle on their hands. The promising talent of Cameron Holt, playing with his Dad, faced the experienced pairing of Mohammed Suleman and Graham Robinson. Following some strong, controlled smashing from Cameron and excellent court coverage between this father and son pairing, Sully and Graham had to work hard throughout both games. Again, it was a just result to see this match drawn.
In the second ladies, Judith played with Kath Spillane to face her arch nemesis once more, Helen, this time partnering Claire Banfield. Kath’s steady net play and Judith’s punishing down the centre line serving resulted in both games going to the home side. Fortunately, once Andy Finch had sorted out how best to wear his kit, the legend that is Finch, partnering Graham, took both games against the Telecom pairing of Dave Holt and Steve Ramsbottom. Andy’s wicked cross court drives and Graham’s excellent defensive play eventually wore down the Telecom opposition.
Even-steven, then, the match went in to the mixed doubles. Lynn and Sully faced Jane and young Cameron: again, Lynn’s confidence at the net and Sully’s strong straight smashes worked to good effect. Not to be outdone, however, Jane and her promising protégé continued to battle with the Westholme pairing stroke for stroke. Again, a fitting conclusion to this game was for it to be split. The home couple of Judith and Dave then faced Helen and Graham before, eventually, the legend that is Finch walked back on court and came in to his own – once he had reminded his partner, Claire, to stop drifting from the net. Clinching a Westholme victory, Andy and Claire won all their remaining matches.