Hird & Rose Win at Aldenham

Graham Pulsford reports:

10/06/19: The Jim Fredenham Trophy was won yesterday by Karen Hird/Josh Rose who neatly combined as a pair to play a consistently high level of fives throughout the day.

This year there were two groups with the winner of each group then contesting the final. In group one the ever-dangerous Andrew Rennie was paired with the hard-hitting Michael MacGeogh, with obvious and very tough competition from the powerful pairings of Chris Cernuschi/Darshan Patel and Chris Austin/Rubel Mallik. This looked like the archetypal ‘Group of Death’.

In the first critical match the battle of the Chrises was won by Chris Austin/Rubel Mallik who beat Chris Cernuschi/Darshan Patel by a 4-point margin. Andrew Rennie/Michael MacGeogh saw off the early challenge of Phil Lyndon/Oli Lawton but were unable to sustain this impressive form in their next two games and were tantalisingly defeated by 1 and 2 points respectively by Chris Austin/Rubel Malik and then Chris Cernuschi/Darshan Patel. These were all hard-hitting games with long rallies and a great advert for fives but playing in the increasingly hot conditions this undoubtedly had an influence on the final.

In group two the ‘big clash’ was between Gareth Hoskins/Nirav Patel and Karen Hird/Josh Rose. This was a highly tactical, low scoring game and was narrowly won, with a 3-point margin, by Karen Hird/Josh Rose who seamlessly gelled as a pair from the outset. Gareth Hoskins/Nirav Patel made short work of their opposition in rest of the group and, as the organiser's pre-tournament favourites, their clash with Karen Hird/Josh Rose was probably occurred a game too soon.

After problems on the motorway a sun-tanned Harriet Asquith arrived late to be paired with Graham Pulsford and, as she stepped on court to replace her substitute, found herself 1-10 against the canny Carl Rennie/Tim Pemberton. Despite fighting hard, and recovering at one stage to 11-12, time ran out and Tim Pemberton was able to celebrate victory in front of his wife and children.

There was even time for Gideon Osen to come within a whisker of winning a match!

The final was therefore between Chris Austin/Rubel Mallik and Karen Hird/Josh Rose. On paper this looked to be a very close call but, rather like the Champions League final, it wasn’t quite as exciting or close as the earlier highly competitive semi-finals. The Karen Hird/Josh Rose partnership continued to ‘click’ with the obvious opposition tactic of hitting hard to Karen in the back court nullified by the height and reach of her partner. But Rubel’s shoulder had seized up and he found it increasingly difficult to serve and volley. This had the effect of breaking up the play and after Karen Hird/Josh Rose established an early lead there was no way back however hard the ‘Wizard of Wolverhampton’ might try.

Martin Lindsay presented the James Fredenham Trophy to Karen and Josh with Sir James Fredenham himself looking on! The 2019 winners’ shirt was uveiled as a luminous light green with yellow motif.

This was followed by a relaxing BBQ in warming sunshine for all players, their families and the large accumulation of spectators alike.

Our thanks to the School for the facilities and for providing us with a brand-new hi-tech BBQ, to Chris Cernuschi for acting as our 5-star chef and to Jim Fredenham for his work as tournament adjudicator.

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