Pandemic positive on show in latest round of Portsmouth & District Tennis League games

As an ideal socially distanced game, tennis was one of the few sports to benefit from increased participation as pandemic restrictions were released. That increase is now beginning to show through in the Portsmouth League, with more new names seen this week than in several weeks normally.

Friday, 1st October 2021, 8:51 am
Seacourt v CourtX 3rds (from left): Simon Courtnell, John Checker, Simon Troke, Richard Perkins, Robin Ellison, Graham Cottle, Hugh Latham, Vinny Venus

Indeed, just about the only match which did not feature a new name was the ladies midweek masters encounter between CourtX and Avenue 1, writes ALAN BEST.

Avenue’s Tracy Manvell, Debby Berry, Heather Halliday and Gill Clarke can put together over 100 years of league experience, and it showed as they defeated CourtX regulars Caroline Hardy, Karen Claeys, Dawn de Wilde and Leah Clifton – who barely manage a fifth of Avenue’s experience – for the loss of just 12 games.

At the other extreme, Active Academy played their first ever men’s match when overcoming Fishbourne 3-1. Academy pair Don Iro and Matt Grigg have experience of league

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Active Academy (from left): Don Iro, Victor Lejeune, Jon Plaw and Matt Grigg

tennis, having played for their mixed team for a couple of seasons, and this undoubtedly helped them steer their partners, Victor Lejeune and John Plaw respectively, to victory.

The Carlton Green v Southsea encounter yielded even more faces new to league tennis. Carlton’s experienced top pair, Russell Lewis and Chris Weatherill, teamed up with newcomers James Hopkins and Ignacio Messa to overwhelm Southsea, for whom only John Kemble had played league tennis before.

Unusually for a small club, Rowlands Castle played three games in the week, and in line with the seasonal pattern so far fielded a mix of experience and new players.

They did this successfully, winning two of the matches and taking a losing draw point from the third.

The men’s team hosted Ryde Lawn 3, with Peter Morgenroth making his debut, alongside Matt Bennett. They won both their rubbers to complete a 4-0 victory.

The ladies masters team faced Lee, with Jill Holmes making her debut, winning one of her rubbers in partnership with Susan Scoccia. With Liz Marenghi and Lynda Pine recording a double, Castle triumphed 3-1.

Husband and wife pair Jane and Peter Mellor debuted in the mixed masters team, winning their mixed rubber and Jane then teaming up with Sue Palmer to win the ladies v ladies rubber.

That was enough to secure a point, but Warsash took the winning draw point 5-4 on sets countback.

Chichester also enjoyed a successful week. Having won the opening two rubbers comfortably, their men’s 1 team looked to be coasting to victory. But CourtX had other ideas and the reverse rubbers both went to match tie breaks before Chichester could claim the win.

Their midweek ladies claimed victory over a strong Warsash 2nds team. Sara Smyth, partnering another new face, Heidi Johnson, won both her rubbers and with Michelle Spirit and Gina Davis winning the 2 v 2’s encounter Chichester won 3-1.

Not every match featured new faces. Seacourt’s men took on CourtX3, with Graham Cottle, Hugh Latham and Vince Venus in their team, alongside Rich Perkins. The first three were in the Seacourt team that your correspondent played against when making his league debut some 10 years or so ago!

And at Alverstoke, Sue and Chris Titterington, stalwarts of the club’s mixed teams, and with whom your correspondent had many enjoyable matches, fought to get their team two rubbers, and a winning draw point, playing with partners Sue Western and Jeff Clarke respectively.

Time and tide now prevent myself from doing more than reporting on matches and helping organise the leagues. But it is good to see so many newcomers joining the regulars, hopefully finding league action as friendly and sporting as it always was.