A Grand Day Out – that’s what I would call it. The Parks League End of Season Tournament that is.
This year we were back at Hove Park and the sun shone all day. We had a full house with 12 teams split into two groups – 72 players (plus stand-ins) in all, milling around the courts and the café. There were teams from Dyke, Hove, King Alfred, Queens, Saltdean and Stanford all set for competitive clash in usual Parks style.
With each team playing five fifteen minute matches during the day, there was plenty of time to sit and enjoy the sunshine and socialise. Time though, was of the essence: 32 matches to play over the course of 5 hours on six courts meant that my eye was constantly on the stopwatch. So after a huge group photograph and some instructions for the teams we were off, but already running 15 minute late.
If you’ve never been to one of these tournaments it’s fast and exciting. Each team consists of three pairs, mixed, men’s, ladies’ or whichever combination the team captains agree. After three minutes of warm up the whistle blows and 15 minutes of competition ensues, the aim being to win as many games in the time as possible before the whistle blows to signal the end of the match.
So the day progressed. With scores coming in it seemed that in Group A it was going to be tight – by midway there wasn’t a lot to separate the six teams. In Group B though the Hove B team stated their intention by taking 18 games in the first match, followed by Hove C on 14.
Despite my intentions of firm organisation, I was however partially redundant. Everyone knew exactly what to do and where to be and when which saved me a lot of shouting. Apart from the occasional clarification or ruling everything was running smoothly. Time though was slipping gradually with each match played. A planned 20 minute break at lunch time had to be abandoned. I was however caught out in the afternoon. “Those warm ups are getting shorter and shorter” someone shouted. Well, yes sorry, but I had to make up time somehow and I didn’t think anyone would notice!
The day was drawing to the end and scores were becoming interesting. In group B despite Hove B making an excellent start with only one match left to play Hove C were only 11 points adrift – not an impossible task in this format. In Group A 5 points separated the top four teams, which way would it go?
In the end Group B was topped by Hove B who produced 11 points from their last match while Hove C managed 6. In Group A it was Dyke A who won through, producing 15 points from their last match and Hove A trailing by only 4 points in second place. So in the end the results looked like this:
And all done by 4.45! Then followed the presentation of the League Trophies presented by our League Competitions Secretary Mick Cox, with Division 4 going to Hove D, Division 3 to Dyke C, and Division 2 to Hove B. That huge shield for the First Division needing two people to lift it now and the history going back to 1929 was this year won by Dyke. With plenty of photo opportunities the two Group Shields for the days’ competition were awarded to gleeful members of Dyke A and Hove B.
All in all another fantastic day of sunshine bathed tennis. I would like to thank firstly Hove Park Alliance for generously making the courts available to us for the day. Secondly to Rita Mullins for providing the tennis balls and organising the money for the day. Thirdly, to Conrad Brunner for organising the group photo, and to photographer Neil Stoddard, who has once again taken a fabulous collection of images of the day. Finally, and most importantly, I would like to thank all of the 72 players who turned up and made it the day it was.
If that was the last day of our English Summer, what a way to spend it. I’m looking forward to next year already.