Incredibly close encounters and a thrilling title tussle – Portsmouth Winter Tennis League round-up

The Ladies leagues took centre stage in the Portsmouth Winter Tennis League, including two exceptionally close 11-set encounters and a thrilling tussle for a divisional title.

By Community Sport Reporter
Friday, 18th February 2022, 8:55 am
Avenue 2nds v Lee 2nds (from left): Heather Halliday, Sian Prior, Debbie Berry, Helen Weekes, Donna Davy, Patsy Scarborough, Saskia Benzing, Barbara Parodi
Avenue 2nds v Lee 2nds (from left): Heather Halliday, Sian Prior, Debbie Berry, Helen Weekes, Donna Davy, Patsy Scarborough, Saskia Benzing, Barbara Parodi

The top flight saw previously unbeaten leaders Chichester lose that record to a resurgent Lee team, writes ALAN BEST.

The first round of rubbers followed form, with the respective top pairs beating the second strings, Lee having established a one-game lead at this stage.

Lee’s second pair were much too strong for the Chichester seconds, leaving the match to be decided by the 1’s v 1’s rubber.

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Alverstoke v JEM Tennis. Back (from left): Laura Titterington, Nicky Heyworth, Mia Prosser, Aurelie Hemphills, Florence Gimonet. Kneeling: Sue Western, Sue Titterington

Katica Roberts and Sue Foott took the first set for the Sussex team before April Brown and Chloe Efford levelled. Chichester needed to win the match tie break to level the rubbers and claim a point, but the Lee pair used home knowledge of the surface to edge home.

Chichester’s 2nds travelled to Warsash 2nds for the match which would determine which team would be crowned champions. And what a match it was!

The opening rubbers were shared, with Warsash’s Karen Kirwan and Frair Burgess needing a match tie break to overcome Debbie Wigmore and Ileana Melendez, while Catherine Hutchins and Debbie Draper won their rubber for Chichester in straight sets. Advantage Chichester at the halfway stage.

But Warsash won the opening sets in both the reverse rubbers. Advantage switched to Warsash!

Then Hutchins and Draper took the second set off Kirwan and Burgess 6-1, and also the tie break. Advantage back to Chichester.

Warsash’s Jacky Gregory and Karen Downie were ahead all the way in the crucial second set in the final rubber, but Wigmore and Melendez took it on a tie break. They retained the momentum to win the match tie break, and with it the match and the title.

With only fourth and fifth place at stake, there was less to fight for in the match between CourtX 2nds and Ryde Lawn 2nds, but that didn’t stop the teams enjoying another 11-set classic.

The opening rubbers went the way of the top pairs, with Lawn taking the advantage, Christine Harrison and Sam Holmes having won a set when losing to Lynn Candlish and Fiona Goode.

And Lawn looked good for an overall win when they won the opening sets in the reverse rubbers. But the home team’s familiarity with the courts proved to be crucial as they fought back to win the second sets in both rubbers, going on to take the tie breaks for a 3-1 victory.

The Avenue 2nds v Lee 2nds match, also in Division 2, was less dramatic, Avenue strolling to a 4-0 victory.

In Division 4, Mia Prosser and Fi Farley were in sparkling form for JEM Tennis, winning both their rubbers for the loss of just two games. Sue Western and Nicky Heyworth, Alverstoke’s top pair, did give the score some respectability, beating Aurelia Hemphills and Florence Gimonet in their first rubber, but JEM ran out 3-1 winners.

Two men’s teams managed to complete their matches on a wet Sunday. Avenue 2nds shared the rubbers with Fishbourne but claimed the winning draw points thanks to top pair Ross McPherson and Paul Skipp taking a set off JJ Bone and Carl Pendle.

Lee 3rds kept the championship race wide open with a 4-0 win over CourtX 3rds, leaving themselves a point ahead of Ryde Mead, with both teams having two matches to play.

The two mixed matches were only able to complete the first round of rubbers before rain intervened. But that was enough for a result to be declared, Lee 2nds winning both their rubbers against Active Academy and hence sealing the Division 3 title.

Rowlands Castle shared the rubbers with Carlton Green but claimed the winning draw points to leave the two teams level on points at the top of the table - separated by .004 of a set on the ratio of sets won!