12th Oct. 13

A weather forecast predicting rain and high winds in the afternoon meant that Herne Bay tennis club started their senior finals day early on Sunday morning. The ladies singles final was the first to get underway and it featured the same two ladies as the previous year, Nicola Mileham as the defending champion and Danielle Miles. Right from the start the 2 ladies were playing superb tennis striking the ball well despite the strong wind. Miles’ hard hitting attacking style was countered by Mileham’s precision placing. The first set was finally balanced and heading toward a tie-break when Miles found herself at set point on Mileham’s serve. Unfortunately the chance disappeared with a wayward service return and they were into the tie-break. Mileham took the imitative with some short angled shots pulling Miles into the net then passing her down the line to take the tie-break 7-4. The excellent standard of hard hitting tennis continued in both the second set, which Miles won 6-4, and the third. With the players now having been on court for over 2hours there was little decrease in the intensity and pace of the game. Miles was still crashing her serve down and punishing any short balls that came her way and this proved to be decisive when she broke Mileham’s serve to take a 4-3 lead and then held her serve and nerve twice more to take the set 6-4 and the title for the 1st time. The mens single final was contested by 2 players who were reaching this stage in the tournament for the 1st time, Ian Cooke and Alex Kazakeos. They were well matched with their heavy topspin hitting and the final was a long and arduous battle. Rallies regularly lasted 20-30 shots with both players willing to run down every ball. Kazakeos made the better start leading 4-0 but Cooke slowly clawed back the lead only to lose the 1st set 6-4. In the second set it was Cooke who was now into his metronome precision mode of not missing a ball and he raced to a 5-2 lead only to see Kazakeos gradually reel him in – he finally served out the set to win it 7-5. In the third set Cooke was beginning to tire and the superior fitness of the younger Kazakeos began to reap benefits as he placed the ball in every corner of the court. He won the final set 6-2 and claimed his first Herne Bay title. The ladies doubles featured the same 4 players as the previous two years, Louise Tucker/Anne Gibbs and Nicola & Kay Mileham. Tucker and Gibbs started very positively coming forward to dominate at the net and they won the 1st set 6-1. In the 2nd set Kay started to get her range with some hard hit forehands. Tucker and Gibbs led 5-3 but lost some of their momentum and ended up in a tie-break which they managed to win 7-3 and retained their title. The mens doubles featured a very weary Cooke playing with Peter Elsden and a new pairing of Martin Beckley/Keith Clark. Cooke & Elsden played the more consistent tennis in the 1st set and won it 6-2. The second set was delayed while Cooke received treatment for cramp and was turned out to be much closer. Beckley & Clark recovered from a bad start to lead 5-4 with Beckley to serve, but they were unable to take their opportunity and Cooke & Elsden won the set and match 7-5. The mixed doubles was the usual battle between Elsden/Tucker and Beckley/Gibbs. The match featured some excellent quick fire exchanges at the net particularly between the women but overall Elden & Tucker were the more consistent pair and they won 6-3, 6-3. The two remaining finals were in the Plate competitions. The first was the Mens Plate Singles between Bryan Packham and Gary Smith. The windy conditions suited Packham best and he made full use of the wind when it was behind him to take the first set 6-2. In the second set Smith started to cope better with the conditions and Packham suffered an injury to his shoulder that meant he had to serve underarm. Despite this set back Packham managed to hold on and win the second set and title in a tie-break. The Mixed Plate Final was the last of a long day and with the predicted bad weather arriving the players had to contend with rain as well as the wind. The players were Sue Toye and Ian Cooke, in his 3rd final of the day, and Caroline Packer & Jerry Loader. Packer and Loader played precise hard hitting shots right from the start and won the first set 6-2. In the second set Cooke & Toye were just gaining some control of the set leading 4-2 when Toye injured her foot and was unable to continue. This was an unfortunate end to a fantastic day’s tennis. Thanks go to Peter Elsden for organising everything and to the dedicated spectators who stayed until the last ball was stuck despite the very cold and unpleasant conditions.