The Stratford Tennis Club crowned its 2016 singles champions this week. With approximately 70 spectators ringing the courts it was a great night at the Club. Until rain delayed the end of one match. Titles were earned in men’s and ladies’ ‘A’ and ‘B’ divisions.
The men’s ‘A’ final was a classic. In a rematch of last years final, defending champion Grant McPherson faced off against Bob Tamblyn. McPherson earlier had won the Men’s ‘A’ doubles championship to go with his 2015 singles title. Tamblyn, the most decorated player in the modern history of the Club, had taken the Mixed ‘A’ doubles title this season. It was Tamblyn’s 29th ‘A’ championship in his storied career.
The battle between the Club’s top two players disappointed no one. McPherson got off to a great start using his power and aggressive play to break Tamblyn’s serve. Serving with a 4-3 lead McPherson ran into trouble. A couple double faults and heightened play by Tamblyn led to a break of serve to even the match. Tamblyn began to use McPherson’s aggressive play against him. With many lobs backing McPherson off the net and an inability to connect on his smashes Tamblyn took control. A second break of McPherson’s serve gave the first set to Tamblyn 6-4.
The 18 year old McPherson regained his form in the second set. Powerful ground strokes pushed Tamblyn behind the baseline and let McPherson control play. With his big serve and hard hitting returns McPherson had control of most rallies from the start. The second set went to McPherson 6-2.
A third set was needed to determine the 2016 champion. McPherson scored an early break of serve and seemed to be in control of the match. Tamblyn, who won the first of his 10 singles titles in 1988, proved he wasn’t going quietly. McPherson served for the match at 5 to 4 but Tamblyn fought back. Securing a service break to tie the set at 5 games all Tamblyn was back in the match. With the rain falling the match continued. In probably his best game of the match, McPherson broke Tamblyn’s serve with his powerful ground strokes overwhelming his opponent. Tamblyn needed to break serve to continue his hopes for another singles title. In a long game with each player have opportunities to take the game the fans were on the edge of their seats. McPherson continued his aggressive play coming forward as often as possible. On his second match point McPherson forced a floating backhand from Tamblyn and put his swinging forehand volley away to claim the championship.
The 4-6 6-2 7-5 victory gave McPherson his second straight men’s ‘A’ title. It was one of the great finals in the history of the Stratford Tennis Club.
The Men’s ‘B’ singles final was a battle of two first time finalists. 17 year old lefty Marcel Lundrigan would bring his big serve and heavy spin ground strokes to the match, while Graham Heaton would counter with his experience and hard hitting flat forehand. The match began with Lundrigan controlling play. With his serve getting him several easy points and very few errors Lundrigan cruised to a 6-1 win in the opening set.
The second set saw Heaton find his range on his powerful forehand. Heaton cut down on his errors and the set remained even. Lundrigan had a couple match points but Heaton would fight back. Eventually the set went to a tie breaker. Heaton held his nerve and took the tie breaker 7 points to 5 to send the match to a third and deciding set.
The third set had the teenager secure the first break of serve and control the set from the start. Up 5-3 and serving for the title Lundrigan would not be denied. A big service game gave Lundrigan a 6-1 6-7 6-3 victory and the 2016 Men’s ‘B’ championship.
The Ladies ‘A’ final was another rematch of last season’s championship match. 2015 champion Marta Andrekovic, who won her third Ladies ‘A’ doubles title on the weekend and her fourth Mixed ‘A’ double title the weekend before, would go for her second Ladies ‘A’ singles championship. Her opponent again would be Nicolle Crowley. 15 year old Crowley was vying for her first Ladies ‘A’ singles title to go with her two Ladies ‘B’ singles and two Mixed ‘B’ doubles titles.
The first set featured many long rallies and long games. Andrekovic’s big serving was matched by Crowley. Both ladies ran down balls and made the other work for every point. A late service break by Andrekovic secured the first set 6-4.
The second set was controlled by the challenger. Crowley made few errors and had Andrekovic on the run throughout the set. An impressive 6-2 win for Crowley sent the match to a decisive third set.
The third set saw rain falling and both players digging deep. Andrekovic broke Crowley’s serve to get the early lead. After holding her own serve Andrekovic broke Crowley a second time. Serving with a 3-0 lead Andrekovic seemed in complete control. However Crowley fought back, breaking Andrekovic’s serve and holding her own service game. At 3-2 in the final set the rain became too much and play was suspended. Play resumed the next afternoon, as did the rain. Crowley broke Andrekovic’s serve to even the match at 3 games each. But once again rain halted play. After a 3 hour rain delay the players returned to the court. Andrekovic would not be denied, either by her opponent or the weather. Andrekovic won three straight games to claim the set 6-3 and win the 2016 Ladies ‘A’ singles title.
With a repeat of her ‘A’ singles title Andrekovic won the triple crown. A dominating Club Championship run saw Andrekovic add a second Ladies ‘A’ singles title to her third Ladies ‘A’ doubles and fourth Mixed ‘A’ doubles crowns.
The Ladies ‘B’ singles final was the only championship match to not go three sets. Monica Eickmeyer and Heather Henke faced off for the title. Eickmeyer had won the Ladies ‘B’ singles in 2011 and in 2012 had won the Ladies ‘B’ doubles title. Henke had won the 2016 Mixed ‘B’ doubles title to go with her 2002 Ladies ‘B’ doubles , 2003 and 2004 Ladies ‘A’ doubles, and 2004 Mixed ‘B’ championships.
The match began with Eickmeyer controlling play with her ground strokes. The lefty spin gave Henke some trouble as she seemed on the defensive throughout the first set. Eickmeyer was smart and steady taking the first set 6-2.
The second set showed no let up by Eickmeyer. Continuing her controlling play Eickmeyer had Henke on the run from the start. The impressive 6-2 win in the second set gave the Ladies ‘B’ singles championship to Eickmeyer.
With the Open championship events now in the books the Club focuses on the junior championship events.
Picture : (l to r) Marcel Lundrigan (Men’s ‘B’ singles champion), Grant McPherson (Men’s ‘A’ singles champion), Marta Andrekovic (Ladies ‘A’ singles champion), Monica Eickmeyer (Ladies ‘B’ singles champion)