Seacourt Champions!

The day had come, the day of the Pol Roger Inter-Club knock-out tournament. Seacourt vs The Queen’s Club, who, as current holders were looking for a hatrick, which has only been achieved twice before, both by The Royal Tennis Court. Seacourt’s team combinations had been discussed, discounted, and discussed again. Spencer had delivered the difficult news to the squad of who was in the final team and who would be supporting as first reserve.

Spencer had been a nervous wreck for the past 3 weeks, making sure everyone was wrapped up in cotton wool and to perform low-risk activities only, no injuries were allowed, this was a ‘three-line whip’ order. But in saying that, 4 of our Pol irreplaceable players decided to have an exhibition match 2 days before the final, to celebrate the fantastic achievement of Max and James winning the British Armature Doubles a few weeks back, which Will was also runner up.

It was a very entertaining match, however friendly it was, it wouldn’t stop Mr Luke Danby from his occasional domineering play with the oddball at 100mph+. Spencer had to be resuscitated from fainting at the sight of one point when Luke hit an incredibly hard & low but rising force, what seemed like it was on a beeline for Max’s head. Max, not fussed (well he does play daily against Will who can more than match Luke for power), ducked down low, reappeared with a smile, and carried on as if nothing had happened …

The start of the day has a ritual that must be followed, Spencer’s Premium & Bespoke ‘greasy spoon cafe’ was open for business to prepare the team for the breakfast of champions, otherwise known as The Full English! No better way to prepare for the day ahead and to secure victory. All thoughts were then turned to the final words from the captain, the unknown of who we would end up playing in each individual match, and the sweet taste of Pol’s finest champagne ( more on that later ).

Seacourt’s team and order of play were as follows

2nd Doubles – Tom Weaver & Mark McMurrugh
1st Singles – Max Trueman
2nd Singles – Will Flynn
3rd Singles – James Medlow
1st Doubles – Luke & Charlie Danby

Tom and Mark, had a chance to practice together over the previous few weeks, so already had their game plan established. Tom, would take as much of the play as possible, as an ex-pro and one-time level handicap player, Tom was more than capable of running around and dominating at the back, leaving Mark to call the play when needed and volley defend the openings and just get the ball back at all costs. The first set was close, trading games, with Seacourt 3-2 up, we had a point to go 4-2, unfortunately, it wasn’t to be and we lost the first set 6-4. Not feeling at all disheartened with the score, Seacourt dominated the second set taking it 6-2 the main difference was more time spent at the service end. The 3 set was not to be for Seacourt, very tight with each game going to deuce, with both players not able to find their previous form and they went down 6-3. Queen’s draw first blood..1-0

Next up Max Trueman, against Rory Giddins. A close match on paper, and Rory was Will’s partner in the British Amateur Doubles, so had recently played against each other with Max coming out on top. All bodes well. Max went straight into a 3-0 lead, but Rory found his form and pulled back to 3-3. Max, deciding that was all he was going to allow Rory to have in that set, won the next 3 games to take the first set 6-3. Max was in his best form, dominating Rory in every aspect of play, and took the second set 6-2. Max levels the match 1-1

Next into battle was Will, playing Henry Mullan, not quite the player that Will is and hasn’t had the recent form that Will has delivered, winning the Seacourt Silver Racquet and Finalist in the Amateur Doubles and also a great win against Jamie Douglas 2nd best amateur in the country, in the Pol Semi-Final against MCC and to help Seacourt on its way into this Final. Will took some time to adjust to Hampton’s court, with many shots hitting the top of the net or inches from finding their mark. Will lost the first set 3/6 after being behind for all of the set. Will made amends in the second set with a great display of tennis, keeping calm and dominating the set 6-2. Will’s superior play and ability continued to take effect on Henry, who was doing a valiant job in many rallies, that lesser players would have just given up, but he couldn’t stop the inevitable and Will took the third and final set 6-2. Seacourt now leads 2-1

Time for James to come forward and to take the match for Seacourt. James, has also had a good run of form in the past months, having partnered with Max to win the Amateur doubles. His opponent was the opposition’s team captain, Jonny Whitaker, a very respectable player and on paper, a few points better than James. This was going to be a close game and it did not disappoint. This was one of those games that is usually classed as a game of attrition. With long rallies, and expert retrieving from both sides, each point had to be ‘won’ several times over. This was a marathon game and the fitness of both was going to be tested. Fortunately, the young athleticism of James was not able to be matched by Jonny, who after the first 6 games looked like he’d been on the court for a full hour. James took the set 6-3, with good solid play both in attacking and defensive play. The Queen’s team, now beset with an eerie silence, as their captain had to muster the strength and guile to save his team from defeat, did all they could to comfort their player, but to no available, James went from strength to strength and just took the legs away from his opponent by moving him all over the court. James took the second set, the match and tournament 6-2. Seacourt win the Pol 3-1 with a game in hand.

We took a break from tennis, to receive the trophy and take the plaudits, and for our team spokesman, Mr Paul Weaver, to thank everyone for their support and to eloquently sum up that this Pol wins for Seacourt, is a testament to Seacourt’s commitment to bringing Juniors into the game, to nurture and develop into the players, past and present and now stand before us with James, Max and Will. This winning team, is, without question, a direct result of their commitment and dedication, their skills, ability, and willingness to become better and constantly develop themselves as players.

We then watched the final game of doubles with Luke and Charlie taking on Bertie Vallat and Richard Elmett. While it was a ‘dead rubber’ it was still very entertaining to watch, with Luke and Charlie taking the first set 6-3, with Luke dominating from the back of the court and Charlie, demonstrating in his usual inimitable style, that racquets players without question find a wall to boast the ball against on the full volley, whether said wall is a foot away or 20 foot away, its there to be used! The second set was very tight, with the queens players getting used to the power game from Luke and neutralising the effect with effortless volleying and tight play into the corners and onto the tambour. Queens took the set 6-4, and surprisingly and without any consultation with their opponents, decided that they wanted to play a full deciding set and not start, as is customary in dead rubbers, 3-3 all. With time now showing at past 6pm, this unilateral decision irked the Seacourt players, with Luke already facing a 3-hour drive home, who decided to take the approach of all-out power with no quarter given. They promptly lost 6-0.

Seacourt won the Pol Roger Inter-Club Knockout trophy 3-2… and as for the sweet taste of the Pol Champagne, most of us wouldn’t know, as Max got to the bottles before any of us had the chance and was seen standing in the gallery viewing area, bottle of Pol in one hand and Tesco Bread Sticks in the other…..oh the youth of today…The final word goes to Spencer, our long-suffering, sometimes-playing, team captain…we salute you Spencer, and look forward to the call-up, as defending champions, as you do it all over again!