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The Heath Tournament 2013
Played at Aldenham on Sunday 9th June
Graham Pulsford reports:
The courts were buzzing well before the start with players warming up and practising their favourite shots. The warm weather added to the general bonhomie as did the arrival of players in a mix of green and coloured winners' shirts well before the draw was made. Nick Shaw, Gareth Hoskins and Ian Mitchell were welcomed from North Oxford EFC – our ‘sister’ club.
The open draw from a top hat produced some interesting pairings. The immediate favourites were judged to be either Gareth Hoskins/Chris Cernuschi or Graham Pulsford/Rubel Mallik with the potential ‘dark horse’ pairing of Richard Dennis/Nick Shaw certainly worth a flutter. A number of ‘player points cards’ were added into the mix to make the games closer – our version of the infamous Cox coefficient.
The tournament rules kept the games flowing and prevented ‘standing about’ between games. Four matches of 25 minutes were played using normal game scoring and the pair with the most points in total over the 25 minutes was the winner. If the points were tied then the match moved to sudden death and the pair to gain the next point was the winner. This format allowed little time to relax as all pairs played simultaneous back to back matches until the final.
All rounds produced some fine Fives and a number of nerve rackingly close matches. The battle of the brothers was won by ‘the youngster’ as Andrew Rennie/Alex Smith narrowly edged past Carl Rennie/Bob Pace. In two even closer matches Chris Austin/Ian Mitchell lost to Richard Dennis/Nick Shaw by a single point in a game that with ‘any luck on our side’ they could have won, and then Richard Dennis/Nick Shaw were in turn beaten by a single point by the evergreen combination of Paul Kendall/Phil Lyndon.
Andrew Fraser/Neil Margerison were agonisingly close to causing the upset of the day as they extended an early 3 point lead against Rubel Mallik/Graham Pulsford and with five minutes to go led 11-5. A much needed onslaught from Rubel pulled the score to parity 11-11 as the 25 minute whistle sounded – the sudden death point went with serve and Rubel Mallik/Graham Pulsford lived to fight on!
The final was between Gareth Hoskins/Chris Cernuschi who had played some ruthlessly ‘fast and furious’ Fives to top their group and Rubel Mallik/Graham Pulsford who had won but struggled to dominate their group games.
The four players produced some more ‘fast and furious’ fives and the crowd were particularly appreciative of some fine retrieving shots from well out of court (eat your heart out Seb!).
The rallies were evenly matched and the final was decided by the consistent return of cut from Rubel Mallik/Graham Pulsford which forced Gareth Hoskins/Chris Cernuschi to play a continuing series of full bloodied rallies on their opponents' return of cut. The pressure told and even before Gareth sustained a crashing fall off the back step Rubel Mallik/Graham Pulsford had a moved into an unassailable lead.
The Jim Fredenham Trophy was presented to Rubel Mallik/Graham Pulsford by ex Hon Sec Martin Lindsay and the 2013 winners’ shirt unveiled as purple with yellow motif. This was followed by a relaxing BBQ in bright sunshine busily and noisily overseen by chief chef Jonathon Lindsay. Our thanks to Andrew Fraser for preparing the courts and providing us with an industrial size BBQ, to Mandie Barnes for selflessly acting as reserve player (assistant adjudicator and nurse), to Matt Austin for providing the smiles and Jim Fredenham for his work as Tournament adjudicator.