Explosive finish – literally – in Portsmouth Tennis League match between Wickham and Stubbington

There are often close finishes in PortsmouthTennis Leagues matches, but rarely can they be described as being explosive. Not so for the ladies match between Wickham and Stubbington.

Friday, 29th October 2021, 8:02 am
Updated Friday, 29th October 2021, 8:15 am
Chichester 1 v Avenue 2. From left - Andy Gilliatt, George Bentley, Ross MacPherson, Adam Kamruddin, Paul Skipp, Stuart Marks, Corentin Guignot, Joe Glover

With all four pairs equally matched, the first round of rubbers had lasted over two hours before being shared, with, unusually, both the second pairs beating the nominated top pairs, writes ALAN BEST.

And there was nothing to separate the teams after the first sets in the reverse rubbers either. Sue North and Rachel Butler recorded a 7-5 set win for Wickham but Sandra Turner and Suzanne Johnson won an even tighter set 7-6 for Stubbington.

By now the match was entering its fourth hour – and it was getting dark, so the floodlights were switched on. Modern floodlights are highly efficient, but they do take 15 minutes or so to reach full power.

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Play continued during this warm up period, to the stage where both rubbers had reached 3-3. Then, without notice, one of the floodlights exploded - literally - scattering glass over the run off area at the back of the court.

Fortunately, no players were in range, and no-one was hurt, but all power was lost and the other lights went off. They are a resilient lot at Wickham, though, so out came the broom and the decision was made to finish the match in the rapidly gathering gloom.

Fittingly perhaps, the final rubbers were shared, and the match was decided in Stubbington’s favour, having won a remarkable 46 games to Wickham’s 44.

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With no power in the clubhouse to boil a kettle for post-match teas, Wickham refused to be beaten – and took the kettle to the nearby garage, who boiled it up for them, enabling everyone to have tea and cakes in the near darkness!

Ladies league tennis has a habit of producing close results and Warsash had their fair share of close finishes this week. Their third team lost to Seacourt by just one game, while the midweek first team edged past Ryde Lawn by two games.

Chichester and CourtX could also only be separated by a single game in their division 1 midweek encounter.

At the other end of the scale, there were 4-0 victories for CourtX4 men v Warsash 4, Chichester 1 men v Avenue 2, JEM Tennis mixed 1 v Avenue 1, Ryde Mead mixed v JEM Tennis 2, Warsash mixed 1 v Avenue1, Carlton Green mixed v Ryde Lawn 3 and Rowlands Castle ladies 1 v Fishbourne.

The remaining games were all close enough to be decided by either a tie break win or a countback of games.

Avenue 5 and Chichester 3 continued the ladies match day theme of sharing the rubbers 2-2 - Chichester claiming the winning draw points by just four games - while Avenue ladies 3 also shared the rubbers with Ventnor. Sarah Long and Nicolette Lock took a set off Maddy Clewett and Heather Higson, enabling Avenue to claim the win by 5 sets to 4.

Warsash ladies 1 kept themselves in the title race with a 3-1 over Avenue 1 while in the mixed competition Ryde Lawn 2 opened their account in Division 2 with a 3-1 win over CourtX.

Southsea consolidated their lead in division 4 by taking the winning draw points against Alverstoke by just two games.