Former champions Chris Gosden and Tom Craddock put on an epic, near three-hour men’s singles title decider at the Fishbourne Tennis Club Finals Day.
A large crowd was gripped by a see-saw battle of quality tennis as first Craddock (men’s champion in 2016 and 17) then Gosden (2015) piled on the pressure.
At one set all the match was on a knife-edge. The decisive third set went to 5-5 it was still anyone’s. But it was Craddock who made the timely break and then held serve to take the set 7-5 and regain the crown, the third time he has held it at Fishbourne.
It was a curtain-raiser on a glorious day of tennis at the club in Blackboy Lane. A total of eight finals were decided, the culmination of a summer of tennis involving club members of all ages and marked by success for many players in their first finals.
In the ladies’ title decider, Rachel Dekker proved her triumph last year against former champion Katy Bracher was no fluke with a win against unseeded but highly fancied Debbie Jupe, taking part in her first club championships.
Jupe got her own back in the ladies’ doubles. She and another player in her first Fishbourne final, Faye Jones, had to battle hard through a three-setter to take a deserved victory against last year’s champions, Rachel Dekker and Kate Gurl.
In the men’s doubles, there was more disappointment for Chris Gosden who with Phil Tite has been part of Fishbourne’s dominant doubles pair in recent years. But new pairing Tom Craddock and Lewis Minett proved too strong, taking the win 6-3, 6-2.
Lewis Minett is a rising star at Fishbourne and took the mixed doubles title, playing with Jo Moorcroft. The formidable Moorcroft/Minett pairing got off to a strong start against Joe Daborn and Gilly Perrin. They lost the second set but came back stronger than ever in the third.
In the vets-65 half of the championships, there were two titles for Dick Nicholson – the singles (after a walkover) and the men’s doubles title with Derek Norden after a close three-setter against Ian Sturt and Bob Murray. In the mixed doubles, Sue Lord and Bob Murray beat Roy and June Hay.
Trophies were awarded by honorary members Joan and Ron Gawen, who were instrumental in establishing the club in 1983.
In glorious late summer weather, club members enjoyed refreshments. Much of the organisation and catering was handled by the club’s younger members with their partners.
Results - Men’s singles, Tom Craddock bt Chris Gosden 6-4, 2-6, 7-5; Ladies’ singles, Rachel Dekker bt Debbie Jupe 6-4, 6-4; Men’s doubles, Tom Craddock and Lewis Minett bt Chris Gosden and Phil Tite 6-3, 6-2; Ladies’ doubles, Debbie Jupe and Faye Jones bt Kate Gurl and Rachel Dekker 2-6, 6-4, 8-6; Mixed doubles, Jo Moorcroft and Lewis Minett bt Gilly Perrin and Joe Daborn 6-1, 6-7, 6-3. Vets65 Men’s singles, Dick Nicholson (walkover); Men’s doubles, Dick Nicholson and Derek Norden bt Ian Sturt and Bob Murray 6-3, 4-6, 6-4; Mixed doubles, Sue Lord and Bob Murray bt June and Roy Hay 6-1, 7-5.