Heath Tournament 2017: Hird & Rennie Shine Brightly

Graham Pulsford reports:

14/06/17: A great afternoon of fives concluded with Andrew Rennie and Karen Hird edging past Chris Cernuschi and Paul Kendall in the final to take the Jim Fredenham Cup.

This was no mean feat in a field that included a host of top quality players; Nick Shaw, Richard Tyler, Gareth Hoskins, Chris Austin, Charlotta Cooley, Olli Sander and Bob Pace to name a few! 

The ‘top six’ players were kept apart in the otherwise open draw and this produced some interesting pairings. The first pair picked, and immediate favorites, were Chris Cernuschi/Paul Kendall but then as the next pairs were Gareth Hoskins/Neil Margerison, Richard Tyler/Mark Blundell, Chris Austin/Charlotta Cooley, Andrew Rennie/Karen Hird and Nick Shaw/Phil Lyndon it became clear that there would be no easy win for any pair.

Each pair played three matches of 25 minutes using normal game scoring and the pair with the most points in total over the 25 minutes was the winner. The two unbeaten pairs then contested a 25-minute final as the BBQ warmed up. This format allowed little time to relax as all pairs played simultaneous back to back matches until the final.

In the early matches the battle of the brothers was won by ‘the younger’ as Andrew Rennie/Karen Hird saw off the challenge of Carl Rennie/Oli Kyte. In the next court Richard Dennis/Michael MacGeoch were narrowly beaten by Richard Tyler/Mark Blundell and Nick Shaw/ Phil Lyndon saw off the feisty Olli Sander/Jamie Burchill. The noisiest and friendliest pair, Tim Pemberton/Tom Wainwright were clinically dispatched by the experienced Harriet Asquith/Ralph Morgan.

There were two very close semi-finals: Andrew Rennie/Karen Hird took a formidable 7-2 early lead against Richard Tyler/Mark Blundell which the latter incessantly chipped away at but not enough to prevent a 10-12 loss. The second semi-final was even closer with Chris Cernuschi/Paul Kendall being pushed all the way by Gareth Hoskins/Neil Margerison before celebrating an 11-10 win at the final whistle.

The 25 minute final was watched by a large crowd swelled by OAs attending OA Day who warmly applauded some quality play by both pairs. It was clear from the start that Andrew Rennie/Karen Hird were not going to relent after their excellent semi-final win and they kept their score moving to force their opponents to take risks in order to narrow the gap. Chris Cernuschi played some superb top court winners and Paul Kendall some excellent ‘on a length’ winners but the sustained quality of their opponents’ play was too much and the 13-12 score line shown in the scorebook undoubtedly flattered the losers!

Graham Pulsford presented the James Fredenham Trophy to the winners who were obviously delighted! The 2017 winners’ shirt was unveiled as bright orange which luckily is Karen’s favourite colour.

This was followed by a relaxing BBQ in warm sunshine. Dish of the day was Karen’s chocolate brownie meringue with raspberry cake (a nice empty plate to take home). Rubel Mallik won the ‘eating on one leg’ competition and Mark Blundell won the ‘most inappropriate T shirt’ competition. The best-behaved children belonged to Tim Pemberton who also won the worst behaved children category by default. Josh Rose won the best girlfriend section by a country mile!

Our thanks to Andrew Fraser for preparing the courts, for his work as Tournament adjudicator and arranging the BBQ.

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