The Bourne Club in Farnham were hosts for the first stage of the Over 65 Inter County tournament, where Surrey welcomed opponents Essex and Middlesex. A late withdrawal meant that Surrey fielded 3 players only for the two matches, so no rest for old legs. In fact The Bourne Club provided 2 of the players, septuagenarians Steve Jackson and Allan Davison, while Purley’s Paul Ekins made up the trio and by dint of being a youthful 66 was awarded the Number one slot!
The first match was against Middlesex and Allan Davison at number 3 was first on court. Surrendering an 8-3 lead in the first to lose that, Allan won the next two comfortably, only to lose narrowly in the 4th. However after some off court coaching Allan came out firing on all cylinders and duly finished off his opponent in style. Next up Paul started off like he meant business, overpowering a stylish opponent in the first. However a fight back from 7-2 down from the Middlesex man saw the games at 1 all. After some words from his Captain Paul duly upped the pace and closed out the next 2 games, leaving Surrey with a winning margin and making Steve’s game only about the points. What should have been a comfortable win for Steve turned into a rather messy game and although 3/0, the last 2 games were 12-10. As always it shows you should not underestimate your opponent, even though in your mind you think you should win easily!
In the next match Essex narrowly beat Middlesex with 2 of the matches going to extra time in the 5th. This meant that Surrey’s clash against Essex would provide the winner of the group. The whole of the Essex team having done the business against Middlesex were duly rested and a fresh threesome were brought in to tackle Surrey. I guess that’s the best way to cope with ageing!
Allan was first again on court and realised after a tough five setter he did not need another one, particularly against fresh legs. Things looked ominous with Alan going down in a close first game, but he bounced back to comfortably win the 2nd. An extremely tight and nail biting 3rd saw Allan squeak home 18-16 and then cruise home in the 4th against a somewhat deflated opponent. Paul on the other court was not hanging around, but nevertheless had three very tight games which all went his way. So fortuitously, Steve again had the luxury of enjoying his game. This time around against a very proficient former full Essex county player he kept the pressure on, which ensured a comfortable 3/0 win.
Overall very enjoyable day with matches being played in a very good spirit. Surrey won both their matches 3/0 and thus topped this qualifying group, ensuring their presence in the Over 65 finals for the 3rd time in a row (discounting the lost 2 years of Covid.) Having lost the previous 2 finals narrowly hopefully we can go one better this year!