2004 Aldenham Tournament
Graham Pulsford reports:
The eighteenth Heath Tournament took place on a beautifully clear and warm spring morning. The courts were in prime condition and a large supply of new balls was available to suit all tastes. This years entry was as diverse as ever and included Aldenhamians, Berkhamstedians, Carthusians, Cholmeleians, Edwardians, Etonians, Ipswichians, Millhillians, Shiplakeans (?) and Westminsters. Newcomers to our timed fives competition were Chris Cernuschi (Aldenhamian) and David Cooke (Berkhamstedian).
There was no seeding and pairs were drawn at random from a top hat. The draw produced its normal set of unusual pairings and the usual friendly banter and ribbing ensued. The tournament was then started in the traditional manner by a whistle blown by our esteemed Club President, John "the Gent" Rimer.
The quarter-finals witnessed some very fine rallies and enjoyable games but no close results. Courtney 'dynamo' Friend/Paul Kendall powered through against Josh "I'm tired" Rose/James "I did my part" Oliver, Richard Dennis/David Cooke eased through against Jim "I'm"retired" Fredenham/Ian "pass the port" Leeming, and Mike 'statistics' Fenn/Graham 'unflapable' Pulsford sailed through against Andrew "which shirt" Fraser/Gordon "where's my herring" Whitehead. The most surprising result was the ease with which Simon Randall/Jon Knowles overcame the vastly experienced pair of Martin "tornado" Lindsay/Neil "nice gloves" Margerison.
The first semi-final was a high scoring and vastly entertaining match with the eventual winners, Mike Fenn/Graham Pulsford, coming from 0-5 down in the first game to overcome Simon Randall/Jon Knowles. There were a series of long and high quality front court rallies and it was good to see Jon Knowles produce some high quality volleying. His partner, the current Captain of Oxford University EFC, played well, but it was the backcourt consistency of Mike Fenn that provided the platform for his pair's success.In the second semi-final Richard Dennis was the mastermind behind his pairs win. In the fives equivalent of slow water torture, Courtney Friend/Paul Kendall were slowly and inexorably ground down - finally reduced to playing points only on their opponents serve. (When Richard completes his book, "How to get the best from your Fives partner", we should all buy a copy!).
The final was a very keenly contested and even match. Richard Dennis/David Cooke took an early lead before Mike Fenn/Graham Pulsford managed to level the scores at 8-8. This was the critical stage and whoever moved ahead was likely to win the match. Long rallies followed with no points scored - David Cooke powerfully volleying everything he could reach, Richard Dennis carefully placing his shots from the backcourt, Mike Fenn returning everything from the back step and Graham Pulsford aggressively pouncing on the loose shots. Then a couple of lucky edges produced the breakthrough and a two-point lead quickly increased to five. Further points were shared but Richard Dennis/David Cooke were worthy winners.
Richard Dennis/David Cooke were presented with the coveted Heath shirt, this year in dashing purple, and the exhausted crowd retired to the Roundbush PH to reminisce on the morning's events.Richard Dennis (dastardly Dennis or tactical genius?) has now won the Heath Tournament three times. This eclipses the double wins of Neil Margerison (over the hill?), Tim Chamberlain (will he play again?) and Andrew Fraser (just waiting my turn!). Roll on next year, full courts and no red herrings!