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National Open Singles Championships - Category D 2024

Category D Singles 2024 Report

Hatfield once again hosted the Category D Singles Tournament for players between 30-39 handicap over the weekend of 16th/17th March but unfortunately with a slightly smaller than usual entry with only 15 entrants over the 2 sections 30-34 and 35-39 but the quality was as high as it always is!

In the 35-39 section there was an excellent win for Hatfield's Minty Oldham in the 1st round over Nick Geere of Bridport and she very nearly made it in to the Semi-Final, only narrowly going down 2/6 6/4 6/3 against the 4th seed David Summersgill of Manchester. Highlight of the Quarter-Finals was No 1 seed Jin Lee of Cambridge taking on 15 year old Algie Nottingham of Wellington. The standard was exceptionally high throughout the match, with some excellent rallies and both players showing excellent technique! Jin was exceptionally aggressive with his play throughout the match, not really allowing Algie to get a foothold despite not doing anything wrong until at 6/1 5/2 Jin got a little bit more pushy and Algie took full advantage, battling back to 5/5 with points to take the set! Jin just about managed to get the job done and was highly relieved not to need a deciding set. Jin then managed to see off David Summersgill in the Semi-Final where he would meet Faustas Vilimas of Middlesex who had managed 2 fairly comfortable victories against Hatfield's Richard Ramjane and Gary Duncan of Lords for the loss of just 13 games and it looked like being a very close final. Jin will probably come away a little disappointed though as he never quite hit the heights of his Quarter-Final match and Faustas was extremely consistant and used his almost unique style of playing forehands on both sides of the body, left handed and right handed to incredibly good effect. It's a huge weapon not having a weaker side as such and he used it exceptionally well and has huge potential to go on to much bigger and better things in the game and hopefully the Category D is just the start of that. Faustas ran out a 6/3 6/2 winner in double quick time to be a very worthy winner.

In the 30-34 section, last year's 35-39 Willem Sweet of Wellington started strongly with an impressive 6/4 6/2 over Chris Lintott of Oxford to set up a match against No 1 seed Nick Brodie of Hatfield. Willem is extremely tall and strong and hits the ball ferociously hard, which Nick struggled to find an answer to in the first set, with Willem taking it 6/1. Nick managed to use all his experience to battle his way back into it though and with a few more errors coming from Willem's racket Nick moved into a 4/1 lead 2nd set. Willem showed great composure though to peg Nick back one game at a time and eventually moved into a 5/4 lead after some incredible rallies with both players using their very impressive reach to get some extraordinary balls back. Nick didn't go down without a fight getting back to 5/5 in a long deuce game before Willem stepped it up in the final game to close out an impressive 6/1 6/5 win. In the other side of the draw Henry Stuttaford of Hatfield, who had been fighting a nasty bug all week, managed to battle to a 6/3 6/3 win over Tim Robinson of Radley on Saturday and had a fantastic Semi-Final match with No 2 seed Philip Shaw-Hamilton. Philip battled back from 4/1 down in the first set to take it 6/5, before Henry ran through the second set 6/0, although in reality it was much closer than that, to set up a deciding set which Henry finally managed to take 6/3 to take a well deserved place in the Final. Some of the rallies in the match were absolutely sensational with both players retrieving shots they had absolutely no right to get and balls that seemed guaranteed winners coming back, often with interest. It looked set to be the match of the tournament without doubt but the final was somehow able to surpass it!

The standard of the tennis in the final between Willem and Henry far exceeded the Category of event they were playing in. Some of the rallies and pace of play was absolutely exceptional from both players and there was never much in the match at any stage. Willem managed to take the first set 6/3 but Henry levelled the match up by taking the second set 6/4 to take it to a decider. At the start of the third set it seemed that Willem was running out of ideas a little bit, whatever he threw at Henry seemed to come back and he literally threw everything at him. It was seriously impressive from both but Henry moved 5/2 up and seemed to have the title in his hands. Willem though kept going and maybe just a hint of fatigue from Henry after his harder Semi-Final earlier in the day just meant his shots weren't coming back with quite the same weight and accuracy and Willem suddenly started to hit his targets and take a little more control despite Henry having a few match points. Willem clawed one game at a time back and finally prevailed 6/5 in the deciding set in what had been a fantastic match. There is no doubt both these players have lots of improvement still to come and will definitely be too good for this tournament next year but congratulations to both on a superb match and tournament!


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