An anticipated tennis season of matches played long into the summer evenings with vital points played out under lengthening shadows, and players energised by the warming summer sun most definitely did not materialise this year. For spectators, the customary fringe benefit of topping up the sun tan whilst watching the tennis team was replaced this season by the cost of additional umbrellas and the smell of wet cotton.
Given the truly abysmal weather that dogged the entire season, it is something of a surprise that we managed to play all our cup matches, although three friendlies were effectively rained off, or called off in anticipation of wet weather.
A brief respite from April’s torrential rain allowed the U15 team to kick off the season with both A and B teams playing against Perins School. The team ran out comfortable winners in this match. Cameron Brown came from 5-1 down to win an epic set on a tie break, whilst commiserations went to Will Meacher who suffered the opposite experience seeing an early lead whittled away by a tenacious opponent. Charles Carpenter, Joe Weatherley, Andrew Sanders, and Adrian Chu all won their matches without forfeiting a single game.
Our second cup match against Salesian College was not an unambiguously pleasurable experience. On arrival at 5:30pm, having missed the sunshine but hit the traffic, our opponents were unsurprisingly well warmed up, despite the steady rain. They hit our top pair cold, racing to a four game lead. The KES pair of Lewis Hutchinson and Adrian Chu dug deep, however, and won what turned out to be the crucial rubber in a tie break. Victories for Toby Saer in both singles and doubles, Ben Vail in the doubles and Adrian Chu in the singles secured the match. We returned to School cold, wet, and hungry just before 9pm.
The match against Robert Mays in the third week in May saw the long awaited return of the sunshine. The match was played on the astro under glorious conditions, and the School side completed an accomplished victory with all 6 matches being completed in just over 1 hour. Adrian Chu completed a rewarding ‘double doughnut’ in his matches; the catering team did not spare the opposition’s feelings by laying on the appropriate foodstuff to celebrate this achievement in the after match tea.
The team’s success in the group stages set up a County semi-final against Kings School, Winchester, the team who have beaten us in the final for the last two years. Alas, Kings proved too strong for us again, despite a closely fought match with a very high standard of play. Andrew Sanders, Adrian Chu, Lewis Hutchinson and Charles Carpenter all played with great distinction in this match.
On the same evening as the Kings fixture, an Under 15 B side travelled to Winchester College to enjoy a fixture on their grass courts. A sterling effort from the four Third Year boys (playing up an age group) resulted in a well-earned draw, with the tie being unable to be settled, one way or the other, even on games countback.
As with last year, the season’s finale came with the Hampshire Schools’ U16 doubles tournament, with Joe Weatherley and Andrew Sanders representing the School on this occasion. The Groundhog Day theme continued as the School pair swept all before them until the final when they came up against the nemesis of the Kings School, Winchester pair. The boys therefore finished as runners up, while the girls won the competition for the second successive year.
Once again the Thursday evening practise sessions at the School were well attended, particularly from the lower years and we thank the coach, Paul Scullard for his efforts on these occasions.
The following players represented the School at U15 level this year:
Adrian Chu, Lewis Hutchinson, Andrew Sanders, Charles Carpenter, Toby Saer, Joe Weatherley, Cameron Brown, Will Ward, Fergus Hickey, Stef Halcoussis, Will Meacher, BenVail.