Rye Lawn Tennis Club’s Junior Tournament, following on from the Club’s 91st Annual Invitation Tournament, saw three days of blue sky and warm sunshine from Wednesday to Friday last week as children from many different parts of the UK – including Hampshire, London, Newcastle and Canterbury – descended on Rye to compete on the club’s magnificent grass courts. There was also a strong local presence, with players from Rolvenden, Wadhurst, Ewhurst Green, Udimore, Stone, Brookland, Beckley, Appledore, Wittersham, Camber and of course Rye taking part.
The Club’s Juniors were challenged but put on a very good show. In the singles, seventeen-year-old RLTC member Will Bearcroft – from Ewhurst Green – came through to win against Manu Van Linden, before storming on to further victory on Friday in the mixed doubles with Araminta Knight from Burwash against Savannah Winston and Mattie Williamson. In the boys’ doubles, Guy Baxter-Felton from Wadhurst teamed up with Rye member Ben Fox to take the title after doing battle with Kasper Bottle and Felix Dear, sporting matching green hats, who had faced a testing semi-final against younger players Ollie Bearcroft, brother of the winning Will, and Isak Syltevik Dobson. In the girls’ doubles draw, Rolvenden resident Minty Loxton-Barnard joined forces with Abbie Willett to defeat sisters Darcy and Bay Holloway from Southfields in London.
The Club’s Members’ Tournament was held on Saturday, with a strong field of men but a disappointing turnout for the ladies draw. The ladies’ singles final pitted Kate Bearcroft, mother of Will, against Penny Stephens – a win for Stephens in two sets. The two finalists then joined forces to power their way through to the ladies’ doubles final against Ann Bourne and Zoë Richmond-Watson. With no sign of tiring, they managed to keep the momentum going to take the title, making it a winning day for Woodchurch resident Penny Stephens.
In the men’s singles, the last-minute withdrawal due to injury of Scott Brotherton – who has been the winner for many years – left the coast clear for 2017 runner-up Richard Pratt to overcome George McDonald in a close final. Pratt teamed up with Bob Thomson in the doubles, but the pair were overcome by the strength and skill of Tom Henley and Sam Kille in a hard-hitting match.
On Sunday, 33 couples competed on the grass in the Farmer Mixed Doubles Tournament, named in memory of the late John Farmer. The bar did brisk business and the winners of each group went through to a play-off in a “handicap” semi-final. Richard Pratt and Kate Menzies, playing at 0-15 in every game, had a close call at 1-5 down against Anthony Hill and Rosey Martin, but came through to win in a tie-break. Facing Peter Ludgate and Debbie Robinson in a tight final, Pratt and Menzies came through to take the trophy, which was presented by Jane Farmer.
Photos: Zoe Richmond-Watson