2006 Aldenham Tournament

Graham Pulsford reports:

The competitors gathered in the warm sunshine for an early 10.30am start. The line up included a combination of Heath regulars and a number of hand picked guests. This year's first timer was Richard Smith (Edwardian).

The rules are designed to keep the games flowing and to prevent any standing about waiting for other games to finish. Each match lasts for 30 minutes using normal game scoring and the team with the most points in total over the 30 minutes is the winner. If the points are tied the match moves to sudden death and the next pair to get a point is the winner. This format allows little time to relax as all pairs play back to back matches until the tournament is over.

The draw produced some interesting pairings and the pre tournament favourites were judged to be either John Caudle/Neil Margerison or Phil Lyndon/Courtney Friend. The early rounds produced some fine fives but no unexpected victories. The closest match saw the two Richards, messers Dennis and Smith, severely test the stamina of Jim Fredenham/Graham Pulsford in a match that was notable for the sheer number of rallies. In the next court Phil Lyndon/Courtney Friend outscored Matt Woods/Rubel Mallik in the highest scoring match of the tournament; 38 points in total but nowhere close to the record which stands at 57 points in 30 minutes.

By the time the semi-finals started the weather had turned from warm to hot. Both semi-finals went all the way to sudden death match point but the two matches were very different. In the first semi-final the youngsters Simon Randall/Paul Kendall edged out the experienced favourites John Caudle/Neil Margerison in a match that remained close throughout. Points were at a premium and it was probably the consistent return of cut by Paul Kendall that gave his pair the advantage of playing more rallies on their own return of cut.

In the second semi-final it was Phil Lyndon/Courtney Friend who rocketed into an 8 - 1 lead against Jim Fredenham/Graham Pulsford. With less than five minutes left the latter pair was still 5 points adrift, but with four consecutive flying ledges and then a missed volley the scores were level after 30 minutes. Luck favoured the older pair as yet another edge turned an easy return into an unplayable winner! As Courtney was heard to say "You *** lucky ****s".

The final was therefore between the youthful Simon Randall/Paul Kendall and the tiring Jim Fredenham/Graham Pulsford. Neither pair managed to establish and hold onto a lead and it was probably "in the script" (J.Seelig) that the scores would be tied after 30 minutes. It took a further 6 minutes for the next match point and, as fate had decreed, a last edge sealed an unlikely victory for Jim Fredenham/Graham Pulsford.

After Jim Fredenham had recovered the presentation to the winning pair was made by Martin Lindsay. Fittingly both Jim Fredenham's and Graham Pulsford's wife were on hand to watch. Simon Randall and Paul Kendall will both be back next year to fight for the "Jim Fredenham Memorial Trophy".

The players and spectators then retired for a relaxing barbeque in the sunshine. This was followed by a lazy late afternoon in the Three Horseshoes PH where gentle humour and bonhomie were top of the agenda. John Caudle bought a round and the top Heath story, Chris and the Sambucca, was repeated to all who would listen!

In 2007 we have a Trophy for the winner of the Heath Competition. Jim Fredenham has guaranteed that this will be larger than young master Pulsford. We will see if it was just the beer talking.