2009 Aldenham Tournament

Graham Pulsford reports:

The competitors gathered in the warm sunshine for an early 10.30am start. The line up was particularly strong and included a combination of Heath regulars and a number of hand picked guests. This year's first timer was Nick Shaw and we welcomed back Nick Bunyan and Gordon Whitehead from the distant past!

For the first time the draw took place immediately prior to the start and with no seeding of players. This produced some interesting pairings and the obvious front runners were judged to be Nick Shaw/Dave Goad, Matt Woods/Rubel Malik and Neil Margerison/Phil Lyndon (proving how unwise it is to bet!).

The Heath rules keep the games flowing and prevent standing about waiting for other games to finish. Each match lasts for 30 minutes, using normal game scoring, and the team with the most points in total over the 30 minutes is the winner. If the points are tied the match moves to sudden death and the pair to get the next match point is the winner. This format allows no time to relax as all pairs play back to back matches until the tournament is over.

The early rounds produced some fine Fives, some nail-bitingly close games and some unexpected victories. Phil Lyndon/Neil Margerison nudged through by a point against Nick Bunyan/Gordon Whitehead as did Chris Cernuschi/Paul Kendall against Richard Dennis/Andrew Fraser. Matt Woods/Rubel Malik disappointed in an early exit while the effervescent Nick Shaw/Dave Goad neatly nudged past Martin Lindsay/Graham Pulsford in a tense final five minutes. For the record the best dressed pair was undoubtedly Ollie Lawton/Joe Seelig.

In contrast to the early rounds the semi-finals were unusually one sided. In the first the Chris Cernuschi/Paul Kendall pairing clinically beat Nick Shaw/Dave Goad and in the second Jim Fredenham/Pete Scholey easily outpointed Phil Lyndon/Neil Margerison.

The final was therefore between the more youthful Chris Cernuschi/Paul Kendall and the more experienced Jim Fredenham/Pete Scholey. This match was played in the traditional Heath spirit and was a pleasure to watch. The pace was fast and furious from the outset and there were a series of long and energy sapping rallies of top quality. The difference between the teams was the consistent retrieval of Chris Cernuschi from all parts of the back court; however hard Jim Fredenham/Pete Scholey tried, their opponents managed to return the ball in play and, inevitably, win the point. All players were exhausted by the end and it was a clear six point victory for Chris Cernuschi/Paul Kendall.

After Jim Fredenham had recovered from his exertions he made the presentation of the "Jim Fredenham Cup" to the winning pair. The coveted Heath winners' shirts were in a dashing Racing Green (coincidentally the same colour as Derek Whitehead decided to paint his living room carpet on the same day!)

The by now traditional Barbecue was enjoyed by all in glorious sunshine. Thanks to Andrew Fraser for his organisational skills, Pete Scholey for the provision of his delightful beer and Emma for her timekeeping.

The publication of the Heath Fives Manual, penned by club coach Joe Seelig and neatly titled "Fives; A Game of Hazards", will be available in September.