Chichester tennis aces battle hard for club titles
Chichester Racquets & Fitness Club staged its closed senior and junior tennis championships finals.
The tournament was scheduled over five weeks and was played in glorious sunshine.
The day proved one of the hottest on record but, despite the difficult conditions, all the finals were completed on time.
The men’s singles event attracted one of the highest number of entries in recent history – 105 members took part in the championships and 155 matches were played.
Last year’s champion Oliver Dixon was not defending his title and two new names battled for the men’s championship title.
Club members took part in the ladies’ singles, ladies’ doubles, men’s doubles and mixed doubles as well.
The junior and mini-tennis championships were staged during the same period with the many finals matches being played concurrently.
The mini-green and mini-red members played their tournaments in the mornings, away from the searing sun. The mini-red mixed competition was organised into a round robin with Amber Haig winning the gold medal, Isaac Wagstaff silver and the bronze awarded to Luke Flood.
The mini-green event was also organised as a round-robin draw. Third place and bronze was awarded to Cody Dunning with George Haig taking silver. Winner was Diego Savage-Melendez. Both events were played in a Fast4 format.
The 12-and-under boys’ tournament was arranged into a knockout draw with a plate competition for first match runners-up.
The title decider was won by Fred Whitby with a 6-2, 6-0 victory over Joseph Robinson. Diego Savage-Melendez won the plate final with a 7-6, 7-5 win against Elliott Hill.
The main events began on the front clay courts with the men’s and ladies’ doubles, which opened the senior championships.
In the men’s event new pair Noah Burton and Chris Green played Tony Roddis and Andy Apperley. Roddis and Apperley took the first set 6-2 . Burton and Green fought back to take the next 6-4.
It was decided with a championship tie-break in which Burton and Green forged a 7-3 lead but Roddis and Apperley kept their nerve and steadfastly clawed back to 8-8. Roddis and Apperley finally clinched the title 12-10.
In the ladies’ doubles Katica Robertson and Sue Foott played another new pairing, Gilly Stuart Smith and Nikki Shale. Robertson and Foott won 6-4, 6-2.
The much-anticipated men’s singles was played in front of spectators on the packed terrace, who were not disappointed as they watched two players tenaciously battle for their first singles title at the club.
No1 seed Noah Burton, a previous junior champion, played Chris Green (BTM 5.2 rating). Burton is BTM 2.2-rated and Sussex No2 and national No57 at 16-and-under and is Sussex No6 in the 18-and-under age category.
There was outstanding matchplay from both players. It was a long, close-fought encounter and Burton won 6-4, 6-4. He becomes the third youngest winner on record of the CRAFC men’s singles championship title.
Katica Robertson, playing in the second of her three finals; faced Amy Wright and won 6-3, 6-2. This was a record 14th time that Katica has won the ladies’ singles club championship title; the first in 1990.
Last up was the mixed doubles match between reigning champions and No1 seeds Justin Pollard and Katica Robertson and No2 seeds Sue Foott and David Kislingbury, both first-team players for the club.
Pollard and Robertson took the first set 6-1 in 25 minutes but in the second set Foott and Kislingbury matched the champions game for game. Pollard and Robertson battled to retain the title, winning the second set 7-5.
Other results: Ladies’ Doubles Plate - Pauline Scott & Janet Briggs bt Penny Gardner & Jayne Ellison; Mixed Doubles Plate - Ileana Melendez Ruiz & Paul Savage bt Janet Briggs & Siva Pillai; Men’s Doubles Plate - Adam Turner & Damian Andrews; Paul Lynch & James Ward; Men’s Singles Plate - Neal Smith bt Jon Grave; Ladies’ Singles Plate - Catherin Hutchin bt Joanna Duncan-Smith; Boys’ 16 &U - Callum Budd bt Adriano Ruggieri.