New names freshen up return of ‘proper’ competitive Portsmouth & District Tennis League action

Eighteen months is a long time in competitive sport. A lot can change; after all, who would have said, in March 2020, that Emma Raducanu would be playing in the US Open final!

Friday, 10th September 2021, 9:27 am
Avenue mixed doubles winners Victoria Pine and Ian Udal

So it is with local league tennis. After a long period of no competitive tennis, followed by an interesting - but not too competitive - “restart” period, proper league tennis has returned to the sporting calendar.

And just like in the professional equivalent, there were some new names to keep things interesting, writes ALAN BEST.

In Ladies 1, Warsash 1 showed their intentions for the new season when newcomers Isla Hignett and Georgia Barthomen strolled through their two rubbers against Lee for the loss of just three games in total.

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Avenue singles winner Victoria Pine

Cathy Russell and PG Udal backed them up with a hard fought 6-4, 6-4 win over Fionna Dubber and Tiffany Dinsdale, but Lee’s second pair, Patsy Scarborough and Mary Cremer, prevented a whitewash by taking the match tie break in the final rubber.

There was another new name in action at the Avenue, but this time it was a league debut for CourtX- no, not a new club, just a new name for the outfit formerly known as Canoe Lake.

All eight players were well-established regulars, but the results reflected a slight changing of the guard. At one time an Avenue team including Debby Berry, Jackie Edney and Heather Halliday would have swept all before them, but this time they were unable to secure a single rubber.

CourtX’s top pair, Lynn Candlish and Fionna Goode, won both their rubbers in straight sets, and while Alison Wakelin and Claire Keiditsch were taken to three sets in both their rubbers, they took the match tie break on both occasions to wrap up a 4-0 win.

Avenue ladies doubles winners Natalie Denby and Emma Boucher

Lynn Candlish and Alison Wakelin were in action again on Sunday, when CourtX’s mixed team took on Warsash 2 in a much closer affair.

The opening rubbers were shared, with CourtX taking a five-game advantage into the reverse rubbers. Candlish, with partner Terry Lawrence, extended the advantage with a straight sets win over Karen Downie and Trevor Spence.

But Jackie Gregory and Graham Richardson fought back for Warsash, taking the match tie break against Wakelin and Robin Ellison to share the rubbers at 2-2. However, the extra set won by the CourtX pair gave them the winning draw points by 5 sets to 4.

There was a virtual cascade of new names when JEM Tennis met up with Ryde Mead in Men’s division 3.

Avenue men's singles winner James Rosenthal

Neither club fielded teams in the “restart” competition and both had been hit hard by the lockdowns.

Ryde fielded one experienced league player, Simon Baughan, and he and partner Paul McCathie won both their rubbers in straight sets.

Simon’s son then combined with Peter Cole to win both their rubbers, leaving JEM to return home empty handed.

*There are few finer sights in tennis than high standard tennis being played on grass courts. And that was what members and visitors were presented with at the Avenue club’s finals day.

Avenue men's doubles winners James Green and Cam Clarke

In glorious sunny conditions, a whole range of finals were played out, from the top-quality men’s singles final - where a youthful James Rosenthal overcame club coach Ashley Neaves - to veterans and handicap events.

The ladies singles was also a top-class affair, with Victoria Pine taking home the trophy. She then added the mixed doubles title in conjunction with Ian Udal.

Natalie Denby and Emma Boucher claimed the ladies double title with victory over Jenny Smith and Gill Clarke, while James Green and Cam Clarke edged past David Moakes and Rosenthal in the men’s doubles.