The 2008 Witham Doubles Tournament had a near capacity draw yet again. We thank the players visiting from overseas, specifically England, George Hayward, Richard East, Robin Mulcahy, Olaf Dixon, Richard Seymour Mead, and Alec Miller from Switzerland.
Continued acknowledgements to those who have traveled from other US clubs; From Boston: John Mears, Kevin Clancy, Newport: John Murphy, Kip Curren, Andy Kinzler, From New York: Harry Shaw, Erik Oken, and Mike Ziatyk, from Washington Robert Lang, Colorado Margie Goodyear, and Long Island Ed Kassatly. I am proud once again to point out that two of our Juniors represented themselves very well both on and off the court; Christian Thorndike and Tristan Young.
Eighteen teams were divided up into six pools of three teams. Each team played two games, prior to the quarter finals. A unique aspect of the Witham is that we continue to play three set matches, this results in fewer overall matches but many players appreciate the rhythm and pace and possible strategic adjustments during a three setter. In the quarter finals the six pool winners played off to reduce the field to three semifinalists. The second place pool teams played against each other to select the fourth team to advance to the semi finals. This would be the one team with the best record based on most games won/least games lost tiebreaker. This proved to be a very thrilling format. Vaughters and Villiers beat Young and Young 6/2 6/1 and then Kinzler and Van Liew beat Kassatly and Thorndike by a similar score, thus tying them for the final spot with only three games lost for each team. However, George Hayward and Margie Goodyear then played a flawless match, Hayward parked in his usual space, served brilliantly while Margie attacked from the back court. They squeaked into the semis with a 6/1 6/1 victory over Lou Papouchado and Mike Ziatyk.
In the quarter final matches between the winners of pool play; Alec Miller and Kip Curren defeated Harry Shaw and Erik Oken 6/3 6/5. Richard East and Rob Mulcahy defeated John Mears and Kevin Clancy 6/5 6/0. Murphy and Fliflet defeated Verglas and Dempsey 6/0 6/3.
Both semi finals featured teams from a variety of clubs. Some of these players have had great success in previous Witham Cup tournaments. John Murphy from Newport was a past winner of the event and Charlie Fliflet from Aiken defeated Kip Curren, Newport and Alec Miller from Hampton Court who was a previous winner in 2006 in a thrilling three setter, 5/6 6/0 6/4. Richard East, also a previous winner, with his partner Rob Mulcahy, both from Hampton Court narrowly defeated George Hayward last years winner and previous runner up from Leamington Spa and Margie Goodyear from Aiken and Colorado, 6/3 5/6 6/5.
It seemed to be fitting that the finals were played at level handicap. Murphy and Fliflet jumped to a nice lead in the first set, but East and Mulcahy chipped away, convincing the gallery that the match would be close. Murphy and Fliflet went on to win the set 6-4. East and Mulcahy won the next set 6-5, primarily exploiting weakness in Fliflet’s game. In the third set, East and Mulcahy led 3-1 when several unexpected (given East and Mulcahy’s steady play) errors allowed Murphy and Fliflet to take the lead 4-3 with Murphy leading the way and Fliflet showing a bit of resurgence. Murphy and Fliflet never looked back and won the final set 6-4. Spectators commented afterward that it was a steady battle played at a high level (meaning keeping the ball off the roofs), with a modest number of spectacular shots. However, these shots were greatly rewarded with loud applause from the gallery.
The score ended 6/4 5/6 6/4 for Murphy and Fliflet.
I wish to thank my tournament committee; Rick Preston, Mike Sullivan, Francois Verglas, Steve Groat, and Dan Villiers. Club members who did pitch in and help out as needed, Warren Scherer, and Jim Geddes, and our members who hosted our visitors Peter and Molly Gray, and a special thank you to Gabe Kinzler our pro who marked all the matches over the weekend.