This report could have one of many different titles: ‘I’ll be having words…Rick’ or ‘A hard night’s slog’ or even just ‘Minus what??’ Probably safer to simply call it ‘Tournament Week’. My apologies, first, for only reporting on the two nights I played: Monday’s Veterans’ Mixed and Thursday’s Mixed. The results, however, for all four tournaments will appear at some point in this report.
Monday was hard. The 8 couples from: Westholme, Abacus B, Roefield, St Nicholas, Independents and St Phillips were all chomping at the Over-40’s bit and nobody was taking prisoners. As ever, Andy Finch, partnering yours truly, rose to the challenge of the minus 20 handicap, eking the points out still further by insisting on going to 3 in all of his matches. Somebody really should have told Nigel about this Legend that is Finch.
Monday was hard. Andy and Claire’s first match against their fellow Westholme players, Mohammed Suleman and Lynn Hosegood, was long and closely fought. Going to 3, as is his want, Andy eventually wore down his opposition in this evenly matched game. On the next court, Kathryn Keir and Paul Sleightholme from Abacus played an excellent game against the Roefield pairing of Gordon Pimperton and Karen Farnhill. Unfortunately for the Abacus couple, Gordon’s control from the back of the court and Karen’s energy at the net saw them through to the next round. Meanwhile, the ever faithful Ian Grimshaw and Linda Vickers, both of whom had only entered the tournament following pressure from that pesky roving reporter, met the experienced couple of Nigel-a-real-captain-sweeps-the court Shuker and Gill Fourie of Independents. I can only assume Ian had been watching the tactics of Mr Finch in his 3 match battle. Monday, as I said, was hard. Much to the delight of their loyal supporter, Dave Vickers, Ian and Linda were victorious. In the final first round match, our Chairman, Andy Howard, and his long standing partner, Julie Butterworth of St Phillips, met the second Independents entry, Stuart Davey and Janet Ingham. Following a very close first battle, Andy and Julie saved much needed energy by beating their opposition in 2 games.
The semi- finals beckoned straightaway as Andy dragged his partner, Claire, to meet the formidable pairing from Roefield. Much of this match is now a blur, although the bruises my poor old body is covered in will stay with me for a long time. Did I mention how hard Monday was? Having fought back from minus 20, the heartbreak of losing the first game 20,21 can never be underestimated: the Legend that is Finch, however, knows no bounds and takes, as I said, no prisoners. Somehow we responded and won the second game, 21, 20. Monday was hard like I said. Approaching the end of the third game, Claire’s legs buckled and she landed in a heap on the floor. It’s a good job I can write this about myself; nobody else could get away with a description like that! Shaking hands at the end of the third game was something I must have done but, again, seem to have blocked completely from my memory. On the adjacent court, Ian and Linda battled hard, with Ian running his legs off against the St Phillips pair and Linda, as always, serving tight at the net. After two very closely played games, however, our Chairman, Andy, and Julie, were victorious and through to the final.
Monday may have been hard, but luck was on our side. We ran out of time! This coincided perfectly with yours truly running out of steam/the will to live/the ability to stand up. It was agreed by both couples that the final would be played at 7.30 at the beginning of the mixed doubles tournament on Thursday. This would give Claire time to find some form of badminton burka to cover up those bruises from her fall.
On Wednesday night it was lovely to hear that Rosie Southworth, playing with her Caprica partner, Kate Franzke , got through to the final of the ladies’ doubles, playing the Blackburn Seniors ladies, Helen Shanks and Emily Cholmondeley. Having watched Rosie power her way through the Independents’ ladies when I reported on that match, I know we will be seeing a lot more of this young lady. The Caprica pairing took the final in two games. In the men’s tournament, also on the Wednesday night, Graham Robinson and Sam Ames from Westholme got through to the final against the young stars of Morgan Shanks from Blackburn Seniors and Sam Cannan from Roefield. Unfortunately, there wasn’t enough time to play this final on the night. It has been put forward to 22nd December.
On Thursday night I had the pleasure of watching the men’s singles final between the experienced Abdul Malik from Hit and Miss and the up and coming Cameron Holt from Telecom. It really was neck and neck in all three games as these excellent players exchanged one long clear or returned one hard smash or retrieved one brilliant drop shot after another and another and another. The effort and determination from both men continued right to the last point when Abdul played the winning shot before shaking hands with his promising young adversary.
The mixed doubles’ final beckoned me, however; it was time to start the steep climb from minus 20. Playing against our Chairman, Andy, and Julie, the Legend that is Finch began his relentless coverage of the court behind me. As always, the match went to three; as always Claire and Andy played their hearts out. When we crawled under the net to shake hands, it was with relief that we had managed to scrape our way to 21 first. Unfortunately, the rest of the mixed tournament set for that night was well under way and we were straight back on court. As in the veterans’ tournament, however, and the men’s doubles’, the matches were unable to be completed on the night. In the mixed, myself and Andy will meet Claire Edmundson from Blackburn Seniors partnering Paul Ainscoe from College in the semi- final; the winning couple then going on to play the mighty Abdul Malik and Hayley Wilson, from Hit & Miss.
Nigel hopes these matches can finally be put to bed on Monday 22nd December. Spectators, as always, would be most welcome. Was there talk of mince-pies? No, but there will be now!
Finally, a great BIG thank you to Nigel Holt who organised the whole of tournament week and ran the events so efficiently; also to Norden Sports Centre for allowing us the use of their excellent facilities.