As usual this year’s event drew a large crowd. We had seventeen teams, separated into four pools for 3 set round robin play. Players with handicaps over 27 representing the following clubs made the trip to Aiken; Hampton Court, Leamington Spa, T&R of Boston, National Tennis Club, Princes Court, and Tuxedo. We also were pleased to have two junior players in our field, one of which was Tristan Young, the grandson of Calhoun Witham, the tournaments namesake.
Our visitors were treated to the first cool snap of the fall causing the organizing committee to fire up the outdoor braziers to warm up the guests at the Thursday evening oysters and cocktail party. Daytime temperatures rose to a friendly seventy degrees which prompted some players to get in a round of golf amongst the busy schedule of matches.
A traditional South Carolina Low country boil was served to sixty five players, members and guests on Friday evening at the club, the meal is a mixture of fresh shrimp, potatoes, sausage and corn on the cob, all prepared together.
All teams were guaranteed a minimum of three matches in round robin play which concluded Saturday afternoon. The winners of each pool advanced to the semi finals on Saturday evening.
Richard East and Charles Kearl from Hampton Court managed to defeat Jeff Schmidt and Sarah Rodgers from Newport in a three setter; 6/4 5/6 6/1 which ended well into the dinner hour. In the earlier match Aikenite Ginny Goodyear playing with George Hayward, from Leamington Spa, narrowly defeated local member Lou Papouchado and John Mears of Boston 6/5, 6/4.
The stage was set for the Sunday final. Goodyear and Hayward, runners up to East and Millar in last years final seemed rested, relaxed and confident going into the match. Meanwhile East and Kearl, a bit weary from a combination of the late night semi final and their busy social schedule seemed never to get on track in the match. Ginny Goodyear covered the majority of the court while Hayward preformed his on court duties to near perfection; serve, return serve, and cover the galleries! The large crowd did not get to see a close match, but rather brilliant floor play and strong vollies by Goodyear en route to a 6/1 6/0 victory.
A brunch, generously provided by Betty Witham, was enjoyed in the club’s courtyard as players and friends bid their goodbyes to another Witham Cup and visitors vowed to return to Aiken to enjoy the hospitality and tennis competition.
Special thanks go to Gabe Kinzler, aka marathon man, who marked 28 matches in the 4 days of play. In addition Michael Sullivan, Steve Groat, and Rick Preston who joined me on the organizing committee. As usual many members of our club pitched in to assist at the socials and billeting our visitors, thank you all for your efforts. Results attached!