28th Sep. 12

Herne Bay tennis club held their senior finals day at Kent Close on a lovely sunny but windy day last weekend. Proceedings kicked off with 3 singles matches – the men’s and ladies and the men’s plate. This year the senior members of the club had decided the time had come to retire from singles competition and to make way for the younger players. The men’s singles was hence contested between 2 players new to finals day, James Wren and Dan Walker. The match was thrilling to watch as the 2 players battled it out and who had the upper hand constantly changed. Wren’s steadier, heavily top spun shots countering Walker’s more aggressive and daring play. The 1st set was heading for a tie-break with Walker serving at 5-6 when Wren’s more consistent play lead to him breaking Walker’s serve after several deuces and taking the set 7-5. In the 2nd set the match followed a similar pattern with Walker playing some fantastic winning drives but Wren’s ability to just keep getting one more shot back meant that he took the second set and the title 6-4. In the ladies singles defending champion Nicola Mileham was taking on Danielle Miles. Miles made an excellent start taking a 4-1 lead with accurate placement of both forehands and backhands but Mileham slowly found her range especially with her cross court forehand. The momentum shifted in favour of Mileham who took the 1st set 6-4. The 2nd set was the opposite of the 1st, this time Mileham took charge dispatching winner to all corners of the court and it was Miles’s turn to fight back with some aggressive play. But having got ahead Mileham held on despite the threat of a comeback and took the set and title 6-4. The men’s singles plate was a clash of the young and inexperienced against an older more seasoned player when Andy Irving took on Greg Pearson. The 1st set took over an hour as Irving battled to conquer his nerves and his dogged opponent. Eventually he recovered from being a break down, eliminated a lot of the unforced errors and took the set 7-5. in the second set Pearson played well dispatching many winning shots but Irving’s youth and fitness meant he won 6-0. The mens and ladies doubles were both a repeat of last year’s finals and the spectators settled down expecting long 3 setters especially in the mens where the last 3 had all gone the distance and lasted over 2 hours. They were not to be disappointed, although at the start Peter Elsden/Ian Cooke seemed to be cruising through the match taking the 1st set against Graham Miles/Martin Beckley 6-1 with their steadier more controlled play. In the 2nd set Miles & Beckley managed to get into their stride using Miles pace from the back of the court and Beckley’s aggressive volleying and overheads and they took the set in a tie-break. The 3rd set went with serve until 4-4 when Elsden & Cooke made a breakthrough to lead 5-4 and with Elsden’s dominant serve to come the title was theirs for the 3rd year running. The ladies doubles was between club champions Louise Tucker/Anne Gibbs and mother and daughter-in-law, Kay and Nicola Mileham. Tucker & Gibbs made a very confident start with their attacking play and immediately broke serve to lead 3-1. They held onto their lead, despite some wonderful retrieving from Nicola at the back of the court, to take the set 6-3. Early in the 2nd set with the score at 1-1 Nicola went over on her ankle spraining it badly and was unable to continue. This was an unfortunate end to the ladies doubles finals but left Tucker & Gibbs as champions for the 5thh consecutive year. The last events of the day were the mixed doubles finals, between Elsden/Tucker and Beckley/Gibbs and in the plate Cooke/Sarah Pout and Jerry Loader/Sue Toye. The mixed final over the years has consistently produced an excellent match for the hardy spectators played over 3 sets and extending well into the evening. The start of the match didn’t give the impression that this was to happen this year as Elsden & Tucker cruised their way to a 6-1 1st set win with their more consistent play. The 2nd set saw Beckley/Gibbs show more of their attacking qualities and they took it in a tie-break. The 3rd set was decided by a championship tie-break, as players and spectators were all tired, (and cold in the case of the onlookers). Elsden & Tucker won it emphatically 10-1 – their 6th title. In the mixed plate Cooke & Pout were far too steady for Loader and Toye and they won 6-4, 6-2.

In matches played by Herne Bay teams the Dover and District teams were playing their last remaining fixtures of the season. Mens A played Chilham away in division 1 and won by 5 sets to 3 and then played Sandwich A at home and drew 4-4. The team was Martin Beckley/Bryan Packham and Graham Miles/Gary Smith against Chilham and Beckley/Jerry Loader and Smith/Packham against Sandwich. The team finished with 3 wins, 3 draws and 1 defeat and will have to wait for other results to see if they have finished 1st or 2nd in the division. Mixed A completed their last match away to Canterbury A in division 1 with a 3-5 defeat. The match was played on Canterbury’s new artificial clay courts and all players enjoyed the experience on the new surface, Martin Beckley/Danielle Miles won all the Herne Bay sets including one where they came back for 5-1 down to take it 7-5. Eddie Fisher/Anne Gibbs played well but were unable to clinch a set. The team have only won 1 match in division 1 and may face relegation to division 2 depending on other results. Finally mixed B finished their season in division 2 with an excellent draw at home to Canterbury B. Bryan Packham/Caroline Packer played extremely well and won 3 sets and Gary Smith/Lesley Taylor contributed one to achieve the draw. The team should survive in division 2 due to having several matches conceded to them when the opposition were unable to field a team on the day. In the East Kent league ladies 1 completed their season with a 4-0 win against Deal Indoor at Herne Bay. The dominant team was Debbie Holden/Denise Parrett and Danielle Miles/Christine Hanson. The team finished with 4 wins and 2 defeats.