2003 Aldenham Tournament
Graham Pulsford reports:
At 10.30 on a warm and sunny spring morning the competitors were ready. (All but two, who were transporting a barrel of Scholey's Finest Ale from the car park to the courtside). The line up included a combination of Heath regulars and specially invited guest players. This year's first timers were Trevor Barton (Aldenhamian) and Pete Scholey (Edwardian).
The rules; each match lasts for thirty minutes with a blast on the whistle from the timekeeper when only five minutes are left to play. Normal game scoring is used and the team with the most points over the thirty minutes is the winner. So if you win the first game 12-10 but are trailing 0-3 in the next you lose 12-13 overall! This format allows no time to relax as all pairs play back to back matches until the tournament is over. By this stage most players are both physically and mentally exhausted and only too ready to retire to the pub!
The draw produced some interesting pairings and the wise money was on either LindsayM/Scholey or Rose/Shepherd to be eventual champions. The early rounds produced some fine fives and some unexpected victories! The closest match saw the youngsters, LindsayJ/Woods, narrowly defeat the more senior pair Barton/Wootton, while other battling performances included Friend/Fraser beating Randall/Whitehead and Pulsford/Seelig overcoming Dennis/Pemberton. Unfortunately, in two of the quarter-finals, injuries to LindsayM and Khan robbed their partners, Scholey and Chamberlain respectively, of the chance to progess and this allowed Rose/Shepherd and Fredenham/Smith easy passage to the semi finals.
In the first semi-final the two "bye" pairs met. Rose/Shepherd powered through to an easy win despite a late rally from Fredenham/Smith with Rose dominating the front court play and Shepherd supporting him from the back court. The second semi-final between Friend/Fraser and Pulsford/Seelig was a yoyo affair with each side taking what appeared a winning lead and then losing it. The match was memorable for some excellent back court play from Fraser (who saves up his best for this competition), for some lengthy rallies, and for a let which enabled Pulsford/Seelig to win through 13-12 in extra time after scores were tied after thirty minutes.
The final was therefore between Rose/Shepherd and Pulsford/Seelig. The senior pair started well but after a series of unlucky edges found themselves 8-6 down. The match opened out into a fast and open volleying game with Rose and Pulsford trading shots on the step and Shepherd and Seelig returning everything from the back court. The younger pair won 17-16 at the final whistle. It was a good match to play in and a good match to watch.
Presentations were made afterwards in the sunshine outside the Roundbush public house where Josh Rose and Tim Shepherd received the coveted and new Heath shirt in a striking sunshine yellow colour. Both had previously lost in the final and it was fitting that they should win their first Tournament together. Phil Lyndon was thanked for his role as timekeeper and substitute and Andrew Fraser for organising the sweeping of the courts prior to the start. Interestingly no player has won the competition more than twice! A challenge to Neil Margerison (Old Creaky), Andrew Fraser (Mr Consistent) and Tim Chamberlain (Mr Legal Rights) for next year