Graham Pulsford reports:
27/06/23: The first Aldenham Tournament since 2019 took place on Sunday. Nirav Patel/Rubel Malik eased past Ralph Morgan/Darshan Patel in the final to win by a two-point margin. Nirav’s first Heath win and Rubel’s third.
The weather provided a serious challenge throughout the competition with an unrelenting 30 degrees at courtside and temperatures noticeably hotter within the courts. A warm welcome to the first playing of the tournament since Covid!
The draw ensured that players were not paired with players that they have regularly partnered. The need to ‘adapt to and fit in’ with the strengths and weaknesses of a new partner from the start was vital. And all in 25 competitive minutes in the hot sunshine.
By the mid-morning quarter finals, the stronger pairs had come through. The courtside bookies favorites were Nirav Patel/Rubel Malik and a close second looked to be the winner of the anticipated clash between Alex Abrahams/Tim Pemberton and Ralph Morgan/Darshan Patel. Then could any of Andrew Rennie/Phil Lyndon, Chris Austin/Paul Kendall and Mark Schreiber/Richard Tyler manage to upset the odds?
Two unexpected pairs made it to the semifinals. The first, Andrew/Fraser/Graham Pulsford, managed to push Nirav Patel/Rubel Malik until the last minute of play and were then beaten by just two points. The second, Schreiber/Richard Tyler, fresh from their decisive victory over Richard Dennis/Gideon Osen, were always second best to a rapidly improving Ralph Morgan/Darshan Patel who moved smoothly into the final.
The final between Nirav Patel/Rubel Malik and Morgan/Darshan Patel matched the two Patel cousins against each other. This was a very open game with all four players playing to their strengths; cuts were routinely returned and there were long rallies with the hard hitting of the left-handers tempered by the varied angles created by both Ralph and Rubel. The favorites were held to no more than a point lead until 7-7 when their continued pressure made a difference and a couple of unlucky edges from their opponents saw them move into a healthy lead as the 25 minutes closed out. Nirav and Rubel confirmed as the best pair on the day.
The Jim Fredenham Trophy was presented to the winners by James Fredenham (proudly wearing his 2006 winner’s shirt!) who were both delighted and exhausted in equal measure. This year’s winners’ shirt was a classic dark and light blue combination - showcased by Rubel.
The presentation was followed by a convivial and lengthy lunch at the Roundbush pub. Thanks to Gideon for buying a very large round of drinks and to Nirav for buying a matching very large ‘round’ of puddings! And thanks to Phil Lydon for ‘saving the day’ by collecting players from assorted tube stations as Thameslink had shut down.