2000 Aldenham Tournament
Graham Pulsford reports:
The year 2000 Heath Tournament took place at Aldenham School on Sunday 16th April in ideal conditions for fives. The sun shone brightly and thanks to the efforts of Andrew Fraser the courts were swept out and in pristine condition.
Once again all six courts were full and new players this year were Dean Miller (Aldenhamian), Andrew Tennant (Old Aldenhamian), Tim Pemberton (Old Berkhamsteadian), Jonathon Lindsay (Shiplake College), Tim Shepherd (Old Salopian), Nick Bunyan (Windsor & Eton) ,Oliver Lawton (Aldenhamian), Jeremy Schindler (Old Edwardian) and Ed Buxton (Old Harrovian).
The opening round has traditionally produced shock results as players take time to overcome their Sunday morning lethargy and to get used to the idiosyncratic play of their new partners, but not this year! There were some close encounters, the pick of which saw Colin (the farmer) Wootton and Dave (the Jag) Goad come from behind to defeat Paul (the salesman) Kendall and Oliver (the redhead) Lawton on the last point of the contest. Past winners who were edged out in this round included Courtney (the honorary Olavian) Friend and Neil (the psycho) Margerison.
As the competition and the temperature hotted up the rallies became longer and the game scores became closer. The tightest second round match was between Andrew (the bursar) / Nick (the lycra) Bunyan and Tim (the oilman) Shepherd / Graham (the organiser) Pulsford. The latter finally eased through by three points but only after Tim passed an exhausting examination of his back court play as Andrew and Nick bypassed Graham on the front step. Gordon (the twinkletoes) Whitehead and Dean (the haircut) Miller eased past Wootton / Goad, who were still basking in their earlier victory, by a record twenty-five points - not bad in half an hours play! Richard (the mbe) Dennis and Tim (the smiler) Rakow efficiently overcame Tim (the chambers) Chamberlain and Steve (the master) Plummer in a very polite game.
Unbeaten after two Rounds
Going into the third games there were three unbeaten pairs. Whitehead/Miller finally ran out of steam and were literally taken to the cleaners by a vengeful Fraser/Bunyan who were determined to end the tournament on a winning note. The tournament decider was therefore between Dennis/Rakow and Shepherd/Pulsford and this was certainly the best match of the competition. The thirty minutes were hard fought with some excellent rallies and some returns from the back court by both Dennis and Shepherd which were exceptional. At foot all 'luck' played its part and Dennis/Rakow were able to open up a three point lead. Shepherd/Pulsford managed to reduce the deficit to a single point by the final whistle blew but it was not to be.
At the Three Horseshoes the winners shirts, this year in Corinthian blue, were presented to the proud winners. Richard Dennis replied on behalf of the victors, claiming that this was his first competition win (reminisant of a certain John Rimer in 1998...) while his partner(Tim Rakow) quietly sipped his beer and beamed at everyone. The sandwiches, sausages and chips were consumed with the normal Heath vigour, and the last sight of the day was Tim Shepherd returning to the bar for further liquid commiseration!