The cream of Fishbourne’s tennis players sweltered on the hottest day of the year at Fishbourne Tennis Club’s Finals Day on Saturday 9 September. With some of the finalists competing in three matches, the climax of the club’s 2023 championships turned into a feat of endurance as the mercury soared past 30 degrees C.
All the players still put on a great day’s tennis with some enthralling matches in front of a big crowd of spectators who enjoyed ice creams, Pimms, strawberries and cream and a barbecue. In the great tradition of FTC, it was very much a family occasion with the emphasis on fun.
On court, however, some deadly confrontations were played out despite the heat. Champions this year were made up of familiar Fishbourne players and new members led by first-time Fishbourne men’s singles winner James Youell. His opponent Eliot Millman put on a brave display of classy tennis but struggled to master the barrage of 100mph serves from James.
In a close vets men’s singles match, Dick Nicholson came out on top against Gerry Savage to chalk up the first of his three titles this year – after being a three-time losing finalist in 2022.
Susie Upton-Brown came through as Fishbourne’s ladies’ singles champion while Priscilla Pendle and Faye Jones emerged as ladies’ doubles champs – but without having to play after their opponent was side-lined with Covid. Priscilla added to her trophy tally with a win in an excellent singles match against Sandra Reidel in the vets competition.
A much-anticipated clash between previous champions Chris Gosden and James Crossman against JJ Bone and Joe Rawlings for the men’s doubles title attracted much interest, but the Bone/Rawlings pair proved too strong and they won in two sets.
The mixed doubles final could not have been closer, with Dick Nicholson pairing with Shaz Morris to pip Bill Cove and Nikki Scott 10-8 in a final-set tiebreak.
Tournament organiser Kate Gurl said: “Huge respect to all the players who fought extreme heat and scorching sun to put on a great day’s tennis.”
The trophies were awarded on behalf of the FTC committee by Bob Murray who said the club’s biggest day of the year lived up to expectations in every way and was a credit to the entirely volunteer-run tournament.
Huge thanks to all the volunteers who made the FTC Championships 2023 happen, especially: Kate Gurl and Bill Cove from the organising committee; Trevor Bracher and Roy Hay for the bbq; Anthony Fitch for photography; Gordon Read for umpiring; Gordon (again) and Nikki Scott and the rest of the FTC Gardening Club for making the place look better than ever; and all those members who helped set up, take down, clean up, wash up, serve the food, and generally make this by common consent the best Finals Day ever.
Fishbourne Tennis Club Finals Day results 2023
- Men’s singles, James Youell def Eliot Millman 6-1, 6-1
- Ladies’ singles, Susie Upton-Brown def Kate Gurl 6-1, 6-0
- Men’s doubles, JJ Bone and Joe Rawlings def James Crossman and Chris Gosden, 6-1, 6-4
- Ladies’ doubles, Priscilla Pendle and Faye Jones (walkover)
- Mixed doubles, Dick Nicholson and Shaz Morris def Bill Cove and Nikki Scott, 6-3, 1-6, 10-8 (tiebreak)
- Men’s singles, Dick Nicholson def Gerry Savage 6-3, 7-5
- Ladies’ singles, Priscilla Pendle def Sandra Reidel 6-4, 6-2
- Men’s doubles, Bill Cove and Dick Nicholson def Gerry Savage and Ian Sturt, 7-5, 3-6, 10-7 (tiebreak)
- Ladies’ doubles, Nikki Scott and Anni Lyon def Jill Walker and Judith Whittaker 4-6, 6-4, 10-5 (tiebreak)
- Mixed doubles Phil Sowden and Shaz Morris def Bill Cove and Nikki Scott 6-2, 6-4
All photographs: Anthony Fitch