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Milford Open Veterans Tennis Tournament 2016
The club was pleased to welcome players from near and far with one competitor travelling from Denmark to play in our popular open Veterans tennis tournament. Once again it was a strong field with several nationally ranked players, including Rennie Johnston and Pauline Fisher who entered both 45+ and 60 + events. Club members were also well represented, as were members of the 45 Club.

Unlike 2015, the weather was not kind and play from Monday’s events, 60+ men's and ladies doubles, had to be rescheduled to the Wednesday. This meant some hasty rearranging of pairings to enable the events to go ahead with a reduced draw. The new partnership of Rennie Johnston and Bill Herlihy combined well, winning through to beat Brian Birch and Richard Lovell in the final.

In the ladies event, the West Hants pair of Pauline Fisher and Alison Hockey proved too strong for the locals, Jessica Weguelin and Joanna White. There was local success though in the consolation event with the Milford pair, Beverley Cabot and Anne Heathorn, winning in style.

The 60+ mixed enjoyed the first sunny day and rewarded spectators with some fine matches particularly in the later stages. A nail biting semi-final saw Alison Hockey and Milford Tennis chairman, Alan Gordon, overcome the number 1 seeds and last year’s winners Rennie Johnston and Pauline Fisher, 7-6, 7-5. On the next court an equally tense battle saw the number 2 seeds, Shirley Fox and Brian Chambers, just edge out the local pair of Joanna White and Mick Barette, 5- 7, 6-4, 12 -10. The final was equally enthralling with Shirley and Brian just holding on to win in the final set tie break 10-6 against Alison and Alan. Shirley had travelled from Leicestershire to play for the first time in the tournament.

The men's and ladies doubles 45+ events were played in good weather and there was some sparking tennis. In the men's competition the wild card entry of local players John Lean and James Lilley surprised the number 1 seeds Rennie Johnston and Neil Abercrombie in the second round, before going on to win a thrilling semi-final against 2014 winners and third seeds, Bob Gasston and Paul Lansley, in a tight third set tie break. In the other semi-final, David Fothergill and Nick Searle defeated number 2 seeds Bill Herlihy and Peter Occleshaw 7-5, 6-2. In the final James and John proved too strong for the Isle of Wight pair David and Nick.

In the ladies 45+ doubles it was a return to winning ways for Anita Pearce and Jess Weguelin, who defeated Lesley Johnson and Sue Williamson 6-4, 6-2. In the consolation event Sally Gasston and Jane Green beat Lymington’s Lucinda Dowson and Susannah Mclean 6-2, 6-3.

The 70+ mixed event had a good entry and like the 45+ men's doubles was won by an unseeded pair. Husband and wife couple, Brian and Patricia Birch defeated the seeded pair of David Trew and Melita Jorgenson 6-4, 2-6 ,10-7 in a match full of cunning angles and deceptive volleys. The consolation event was an all Milford affair, Terry Kemish and Mary Savidge beating Malcolm Mecklenburg and Carol Burden 6-4, 6-2. Malcolm and Carol, having been key players in the organising committee for many years, were able to compete on court this year for the first time in many years.

Rain returned on the Friday and despite competitors braving the elements to play some matches the decision was reluctantly taken to abandon the events planned for the day without completing the tournament. This was a disappointment for players and organisers alike, with the promise of some highly competitive matches at the quarter final stage in the 45+mixed doubles.

In the men's 70+ doubles despite losing the number 1 seeds, owing to illness, the stage was set for some entertaining and hard fought matches before the rain intervened with the third seeds Brian Birch and Richard Lovell and fourth seeds Clive Richardson and Tim Dean shaping up for a semifinal show down.

With the rain seemingly set in players were asked if they were able to return to play out the events on Saturday, but unfortunately this was not viable for many given their busy schedules.

Ken Burbidge, president of Milford Tennis and Squash Club, in presenting the prizes thanked Moore Blatch Solicitors and Solent Dental Centre for their continued support. He thanked competitors for their patience and congratulated the new organising committee, all the volunteer helpers and referee John Cliff on keeping things running as smoothly as possible, including using one of the “in case of rain days” on Wednesday. Thanks was also given to Sands2 Event catering who ran their “pop up” café at the club for the first time. Ken finished by saying he hoped the weather would return to its sunny best next year, when the tournament is due to be played a week later, starting on Monday 24 April. 

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