FTC’s foray into the Sussex League – the story so far…

By David Holmes

Sudden downpours, strong winds and frequent referrals to the LTA handbook – welcome to the world of league tennis.

Fishbourne’s first tentative steps into the Tennis Sussex leagues this year have been full of incident, not just on the courts.

Chris Gosden’s men’s open team, Young and Wild, played the first match against Henfield and, along with Phil Tite, Bob Murray and James Course drove the 34 miles in heavy rain. But the rainclouds cleared and our first league match was under way.

Chris and Phil led the way against Henfield’s number one pair and prevailed 6-4, 7-5. With nerves setting in, Chris managed to serve out the match after four deuces. Bob and James, playing in their first ever match in this league, gave a good account of themselves but were beaten by 6-2, 6-0 by the more experienced pair.

Possibly as a result of their earlier exertions, Chris and Phil lost a rubber they may have expected to win against Henfield’s second pair 5-7, 4-6.

Bob and James’s second rubber featured some good tennis with James hitting well from the baseline and Bob prowling at the net to good effect. But they were unable to hold the home team’s first pair who won 2-6, 1-6.

Chris’s post match interview after the 3-1 defeat acknowledged the significance of this first-ever league game adding: “I was pleased with the way we all played and conducted ourselves on our travels. The match was played in good spirit and a friendly manner, and Henfield are interested in possible future friendly matches.”

The senior men’s team battled 43mph winds during their opening game against Howard Lawn Tennis Club but lost the match 4-0.

Captain Luke McEwen tried to get the game called off but soon discovered that their opponents from Littlehampton were used to playing in such difficult conditions.

Our team of Luke and David Lord and Bob Murray and Tim Freisner failed to win any rubbers although Tim and Bob fought hard to reach a tie break to give the team hope for future matches.

The elements also affected the mixed team’s first league match against Howard Lawn TC and heavy rain brought a premature end to a match just as Fishbourne’s Pick and Mix team were getting into their stride.

In the early exchanges, Luke McEwen and Priscilla Pendle and James Course and Gilly Perrin found themselves pinned to the baseline and then picked off by their tactically-aware opponents.

But both pairs then started to mix their shots and take up more attacking positions and looked on course to pull back two rubbers. But the rain meant that play had to be called off with Howard ahead by 2-0.

Out came the rule books and the two clubs are currently discussing the terms of restarting the unfinished matches with the possibility that Fishbourne could earn a draw if both pairs win the abandoned sets and then the American tie break deciders.