Former champions Chris Gosden and Tom Craddock put on an epic, near three-hour men’s singles title-decider at the Fishbourne Tennis Club Finals Day on 7 September.
A large crowd was gripped by a see-sawing battle of quality tennis as first Craddock (men’s champion in 2016 and ’17) and then Gosden (champion in 2015) piled on the pressure in front of a large and enthusiastic crowd.
At one-set-all the match was on a knife-edge with both players eyeing the win. The decisive third set delivered thrills and spills galore and at 5-5 it was still anyone’s title. But it was Craddock who made the timely break and then held serve to take the third set 7-5 and regain the crown, the third time he has held it at Fishbourne.
The men’s showdown was a curtain-raiser on a glorious day of tennis at the club in Blackboy Lane. A total of eight club finals were decided, the culmination of a summer of tennis involving club members of all ages and marked by success for many players in their first finals.
In the ladies’ title decider, Rachel Dekker proved her triumph last year against former champion Katy Bracher was no fluke with a win against the unseeded but highly fancied Debbie Jupe, taking part in her first club championships.
Debbie Jupe got her own back in the ladies’ doubles. Playing with another player in her first Fishbourne final, Faye Jones, they had to battle hard through a three-setter to take a deserved victory against last year’s champions, Rachel Dekker and Kate Gurl.
In the men’s doubles, there was more disappointment for Chris Gosden who with Phil Tite has been Fishbourne’s dominant doubles pair in recent years. But this time the new pairing of Tom Craddock and Lewis Minett proved too strong for them, taking the win 6-3, 6-2.
Lewis Minett sealed his place as a rising star at Fishbourne by also taking the mixed doubles title, playing with Jo Moorcroft. The formidable Moorcroft/Minett pairing got off to a strong start against Joe Daborn and Gilly Perrin. They lost the second set but then came back stronger than ever in the third to take the victory.
In the Vets65 half of the championships, there were two titles for Dick Nicholson – the singles (after a walkover), and the men’s doubles title with Derek Norden after a close three-setter against Ian Sturt and Bob Murray. In the mixed doubles, Sue Lord and Bob Murray took the win over Roy and June Hay.
The trophies were awarded by honorary members of the club, Joan and Ron Gawen, who were instrumental in establishing Fishbourne Tennis Club in 1983 on the playing fields in Blackboy Lane.
In glorious late summer weather, club members enjoyed free ice creams and strawberries, a mix-your-own Pimms bar and a barbecue. Much of the organisation and catering on the day was handled by the club’s younger members with their partners – a gesture hugely appreciated by the clubs senior members.
Fishbourne Tennis Club Championships 2019 results
Men’s singles, Tom Craddock bt Chris Gosden 6-4, 2-6, 7-5; Ladies’ singles, Rachel Dekker bt Debbie Jupe 6-4, 6-4; Men’s doubles, Tom Craddock and Lewis Minett bt Chris Gosden and Phil Tite 6-3, 6-2; Ladies’ doubles, Debbie Jupe and Faye Jones bt Kate Gurl and Rachel Dekker 2-6, 6-4, 8-6; Mixed doubles, Jo Moorcroft and Lewis Minett bt Gilly Perrin and Joe Daborn 6-1, 6-7, 6-3.
Vets65 Men’s singles, Dick Nicholson (walkover); Men’s doubles, Dick Nicholson and Derek Norden bt Ian Sturt and Bob Murray 6-3, 4-6, 6-4; Mixed doubles, Sue Lord and Bob Murray bt June and Roy Hay 6-1, 7-5
All pictures: Nikki Holden.