Newcastle Men’s Tennis 1st’s continued their perfect start to the Northern 2B season with their fourth win on the bounce over Leeds Beckett University Men’s 5th’s, while the 2nd’s closed the gap at the top of the Northern 3B table, taking all the points away at University of York Men’s 2nd’s.
1st team Captain Corey Chan reports from the Sunderland Tennis Centre...
After securing a formidable 10-2 victory over Leeds Beckett 4th’s just two weeks ago, confidence levels were high going up against the Beckett 5th’s this week. However, the Men’s 1st’s could not afford to rest on their laurels, as maintaining top position in the league is essential and every point counts in this first term.
Going into the match, nerves were running high as Chan was suffering from a shoulder injury sustained in training the day before. The matches kicked off with Chan and Juergen Springer playing doubles, whilst Alex Wilson and Alex Dodd commenced their singles.
At No.3, Wilson got off to a great start, dominating from the baseline and giving his opponent minimal chances. Both players were striking the ball cleanly, but Wilson’s consistency was giving him the edge. Meanwhile, Dodd at No.4 was employing a clinical style, simply outclassing his opponent in every area of the game. Dodd blistered through the first set without dropping a game; his forehand was on fire.
In the doubles, Chan and Springer closed out the first set 6-2 after securing a crucial break of serve early on. With Chan’s service game suffering from the injury, he and Springer had to use a more tactical approach. The second set took a turn, with Beckett’s doubles pair upping their game. The Newcastle duo were struggling to close out the points and quickly found themselves 0-4 down, but they dug deep and brought it back to 5-5.
On the next court, Wilson was in cruise control and his opponent’s head was wavering. With relentless pressure, he closed out the match with a 6-1 6-2 victory. Whilst Chan and Springer were holding on in the second set, Dodd saw off his opponent with an impressive 6-0 6-0 win, putting Newcastle 4-0 ahead overall.
At 5-6 down in the doubles, a sudden death deuce point marked set point for the Beckett pair. A great return of serve from Springer was not enough, as the Beckett’s players closed down the net and finished up with a winning volley. One set all.
Chan and Springer were no strangers to this situation, having played third set tiebreaks in three out of their four doubles matches this season. The rallies were close from the start, and with no team edging ahead the score quickly turned to 8-8. Both teams were feeling the pressure at this point, but Beckett’s team were on serve, which gave them the advantage and they capitalised with a big serve down the middle. Match point Beckett. Springer served out wide to the backhand and entered into a cross-court battle. Chan was looking to intercept and found the opportunity, but fast hands from the Beckett net player kept the point alive. Springer came into the net but was met with a near perfect lob. He sprinted backwards past the baseline and chipped the ball back as it was mere centimetres from bouncing twice.
With Springer out of position, Chan was left to cover the whole court. Employing fast reactions, he sprinted out wide and marginally retrieved the following volley, but the ball floated up slowly towards the Beckett pair who were on top of the net. Both Chan and Springer thought the match was over as they watched the Beckett player line up a sitter of a smash. NET! They missed it! Newcastle’s boys knew they had been gifted a lifeline rarely seen at this level of tennis. 9-9.
A perfectly executed serve volley combo from the Newcastle pair secured them a match point. 10-9. Beckett responded with a strong serve and a missed return by Chan saw the scores tied again at 10-10. The Beckett pair, clearly feeling the mounting pressure, handed Chan and Springer a second match point in the form of a double fault. 11-10. Chan to serve. With a kick serve out wide followed by a strong backhand approach, Chan piled on the pressure. Springer saw this as an opportunity and crossed to intercept with a volley. Newcastle’s No.2 connected perfectly and hit it straight at Beckett’s net player, who couldn’t do anything as the ball deflected off his racket and out of play. Match Chan/Springer. Overall score 6-0.
The rest of the match concluded shortly after, with a deflated Beckett team struggling to find motivation. Wilson and Dodd closed out a comfortable doubles victory, guaranteeing Newcastle the overall win. Finally, Chan and Springer secured the final two singles matches to conclude a 12-0 victory. This result not only sees Newcastle Men’s 1st’s in a strong position at the top of their league, but it also marks their 6th consecutive win. This team is very much in form and are due to play Hull 1st’s in the third round of the Cup next week.
MVP: Juergen Springer
Thomas Smith reports from the 2nd’s match in York...
Backtrack in time and the 2nd’s were feeling confident on the coach ahead of their clash against York. Everyone knew the day’s opponents had not had the greatest start to the season, meaning a big performance was needed from all the boys.
After a thorough warm up and the afternoon’s order of play decided, No.1 Joey Thompson, No.2 Gurvinder Sidhu and debutant Alistair Bourne at No.4 took to the court.
Thompson raced into a 4-0 lead in the opening set of his tie, firing down big first serves and showing off some neat groundstrokes. His opposite number then got a game on the board and showed signs of growing into the match, but Newcastle’s No.1 confidently matched his opponent’s increased intensity and made it 5-1. The following game must have seen at least 10 deuces and 9 set points for Thompson, one of which was a bread and butter forehand volley framed into the net, but he eventually closed the set out to give all the Newcastle boys a confidence boost.
Sidhu was next to bag the opening set (6-4) even with a number of questionable calls from his opponent, with the York man looking increasingly frustrated at the Newcastle No.2’s style of play. Bourne, despite an understandably nervy start and losing the opening three games, then followed suit and took his opening set 6-3. Newcastle in the driving seat.
Bourne then quickly closed out his match, winning the second set 6-2, and Thompson finished moments later, professionally dispatching his man 6-0 in the second. That put Newcastle into a strong 4-0 lead, with Sidhu easing towards the finish line and Smith at No.3 just getting started.
Smith raced into a 4-1 lead and had multiple break points in the following game to move 5-1 up, but couldn’t convert, which allowed York’s man to get a foothold in the game. He pulled it back to 4-4 and Smith was visibly nervous. After taking a moment to regroup, nerves were put aside and Smith won his service game to love. That just left closing out the set, which he, of course, did the hard way. York’s man was 40-15 up and looked a dead cert to even up the tie. However, Smith didn’t give in and won four points in a row to take the opener 6-4.
Meanwhile, Sidhu closed out his game, taking the second set 6-3 and Smith then ensured the Newcastle win by taking the final set of the singles 6-2.
The boys in blue lead 8-0 heading into the doubles and they didn’t ease up on the pressure. Sidhu and Smith made light work of their tie, easing to a 6-1 6-2 win. On the next court, Thompson and Bourne were locked in battle with a much improved first York pairing and the tie looked like it could go either way. The Newcastle duo put their game faces on and came from 4-5 down to take the opening set 7-5. Then, with the added support from Sidhu and Smith, they completed the clean sweep by closing out the second set in a tiebreak (7-6). Game, set and match Newcastle.
Despite remaining in third place in the Northern 3B league, Newcastle 2nd’s now sit just five points off top spot and three behind second place. They will look to build on this strong win when they face Sheffield Hallam Men’s 1st’s away in the cup next week.
MVP: Joey Thompson