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Graham Pulsford reports:
The 2014 Heath Tournament was played on Sunday June 15th with full courts under (sometimes) sunny skies. The competitors ranged in age from the veterans James Fredenham, Joseph Seelig and Bob Pace to the youth and enthusiasm of Andrew Rennie, Carl Rennie, Darshan Patel and Josh Rose so making the competition an agreeable mix of ages and experience. Most competitors were members of the Aldenham Club but Gareth Hoskins, Karen Hird, Mandie Barnes, Ian Mitchell, and the evergreen Courtney Friend were welcomed returning guests. Our newcomers were Ralph Morgan and Jamie Burchill.
Partners were drawn at random from a Top Hat and the pairings entered onto the colourful Tournament spreadsheet. As it transpired the first and last pairs out of the hat were to meet in the final!
The running of the tournament is simple and effective: the pairs are divided into two pools and after four rounds of timed matches a winner ‘appears’ from each pool to contest the final. The calling of ‘five minutes’ to play by the tournament referee, Phil Lyndon, added an extra frisson of excitement to the proceedings!
In the first pool the luck of the draw placed the strongest two pairs together in the opening round. Chris Austin/Neil Margerison started well and beat pushed on to beat Chris Cernuschi/Karen Hird in a high scoring and hard fought match in which the Cernuschi/Hird partnership grew stronger and stronger as the game progressed. Whilst the other pairs in the pool, Paul Kendall/Joseph Seelig and Oli Lawton/Ian Mitchell in particular, did their best to upset them Chris Austin/Neil Margerison took the next three matches with controlled ease to move into the final.
In the second pool there were a number of close matches. Jim Fredenham/ Graham Pulsford just defeated Dave Goad/Carl Rennie, 9-7, and then the latter again narrowly lost out to Josh Rose/Alex Smith 6-8. Josh Rose/Alex Smith Looked well set until they ran into Gareth Hoskins/Ralph Morgan who had also won their first three rounds. In a ding dong semi- final the ball bounced in favour of Gareth Hoskins/Ralph Morgan who claimed their place in the final with a resounding 16 to 7 victory.
In the deciding game of the tournament, watched by a large and noisy crowd, the experience and wiliness of Chris Austin/Neil Margerison was ranged against the youth and explosive play of Gareth Hoskins/Ralph Morgan. This was the best game of the day and the pairs were well matched - albeit it with contrasting styles. The scores were always close with all players giving 100% and, although a cliché, it was unfortunate that there had to be a losing pair. A little magic from Neil Margerison and 7-7 was transformed to 9-7 and within two minutes time called and victory.
Chris Austin/Neil Margerison were presented the James Fredenham trophy by Martin Lindsay. The winners shirts were dark blue with a learned quote from Fives guru Joseph Seelig - spelt nearly to perfection! (thanks to Josh Rose).
Thanks to Phil Lyndon, Andrew Fraser and Andrew Rennie for organising a very successful day – fives, a BBQ and agreeable company!