Seacourt Tennis Club yet again hosted the Silver Racquet 7-9 February which is a handicap tournament open to those under a 9.4 handicap with those above 9.4 needing to qualify.
With 2014 being a World Championship year I was the only top 10 world ranked player to enter this years event and off a handicap +2.3 it was going to be a difficult assignment let alone this being my 1st tournament since dislocating my shoulder in November at the Open.
I always enjoy going to the Seacourt club which would rank in my top 3 clubs to play at.
My 1st assignment on Friday was to play young Darren Long assistant professional at Canford. I had to give him a handicap of 5 (owe 1/2 15, rec 1/2 15). The 1st set was a close affair with the majority of the games going to seeding, I would win the owe 15 game and Darren would win the rec 15 game. It was going to go down to the wire. Darren was able to grab the lead and I couldn't stop him taking the set 4/6. He then took the 1st game of the 2nd set (an owe 15 game). I was yet to win a rec 15 game but all that was about to change as I settled and played some very positive tennis and was able to race through the set taking it 6/1. This good form continued as I won the last 6/0 winning the last 12 games of the match to take the match 4/6 6/1 6/0.
After a very enjoyable dinner at the club on the Friday night I took on Andrew Lyons Head Professional at the Queen's Club on Saturday. I had to give Drew a handicap of 3 (rec 1/2 15). Drew is a tricky customer as he knows the Seacourt court well as he grew up on it. Even though I wasn't hitting the ball as well as I would of liked I was serving my railroad very well and tying Drew up but unfortunately I was a little grille happy and sprayed the ball up onto the penthouse on too many occasions. I was although able to have a set point at 5/4 but ultimately Drew deserved to take the set 5/6. I went 0/2 down in the 2nd and knew it was time to dig the heels in and make smarter choices. In almost déjà vu from yesterday's match I went on the rampage and could feel Drew getting tired. I took 6 games in a row to win the 2nd set 6/2 and also went 3/0 in the 3rd after a 9 game run only losing a 40 all game at 3/0 which allowed Drew to stop my charge. Thankfully only temporarily as I closed out the match 6/2 in the 3rd. 5/6 6/2 6/2.
I was through to a semi final and one of the 1st + handicappers to get through to the semi finals of the silver racket for a number of years and my next opponent was Adrian Kemp Senior Professional at the Paris club. I had to give 11 points to AJ which was rec 1/2 15, owe 30.
I started well winning the 1st two games but then AJ became very tricky as he just kept getting ball after ball back and was hitting his galleries well in turn not allowing me to control the match from the service end. Even though I was winning about 2/3rds of the points it wasn't enough to stop AJ taking the 1st set 2/6.
I changed my serve at the start of the 2nd set serving a very consistent demi pique and had much more success keeping the service end and reeling point after point off. I kept plugging away but lost a number of 40 all games. I held a game point at 4/4 with a hazard chase and twice put the ball on the penthouse. I lost that game and then the match losing 2/6 4/6.
I had a very enjoyable weekend down on Hailing Island despite the weather and a big thank you to the Garside family for taking Carly and I in for a couple of nights to give us a roof over our heads.
For the record AJ went on to win the Silver Racket without dropping a set.