Amicus Cup Final
Over twenty members braved the cold of a January Friday evening to fill the dedans for the final of the Amicus Cup where they were treated to an excellent match of handicap tennis by Tom Bomford and Gus West. Since the opening rounds of the competition started in early 2019 Tom had secured the Club Championship for a fourth consecutive year and led the Pol Roger team to a semi final tie while Gus had celebrated his eighteenth birthday and taken his bow in the club’s senior tournaments. The pairing stretched the handicap system to close to its limits with a 48 point difference. This meant that each game started with Gus on 30 points and Tom on owe 30 and saw Tom restricted to one serve, banned from hitting the tambour and when at the hazard having to play every shot 2&3 or better. Starting on 30 points Gus only required two points to claim a game but would he be given the chance to take them?
The match started with Tom serving and saw Gus test the champion with a number of forces for the Dedans which produced a couple of early errors from the better player giving Gus the game.
Tom began to get into a rhythm in the second game finding a consistency,regularly taking points as he overhauled the handicap advantage. When forced to the hazard end he deftly met the chases 2&3 with each shot and quickly regained the serve. However it wasn’t just Tom setting short chases with Gus belying his handicap and setting a 2&3 chase of his own. However this wasn’t enough to beat Tom who levelled at 1-1.
In the third game Tom missed chase 2&3 for the first time giving the game to Gus before taking the fourth game without a response 2-2.
Some excellent play from Tom in the fifth game was matched by Gus who made some determined gets forcing an error from Tom. Tom regained the serve setting chase 2 which Gus returned as a high lob which bounced into the dedans making it 2-3 to the youngster
Tom’s fine form continued in the next game as he began to get to grips with the Herculean task. But Gus responded with some remarkable returns for a higher handicapped player and as Tom closed in on the game win another force extracted an error on the volley. 2-4
Despite Tom’s steady point scoring Gus’s ability to keep the ball in play led to more errors from the senior player. A shot onto the tambour made it 2-5 and a shot from the hazard end that clipped the net and failed to make the required chase 2&3 gave the first set 2-6 to Gus.
The second set started in the same way with Gus making some excellent returns which forced Tom into errors, 0-1. The second continued the pattern game but steady play from Tom dragged him back to 40 all when a Gus double fault handed the game to Tom, 1-1.
The players traded games to make it 2-2 before Gus achieved a coup d’Orleans in the fifth finding the dedans off the service wall penthouse but it was not enough to claim the game as Tom took the lead 3-2.
With Tom increasingly finding areas of the court Gus couldn’t reach and a reduction in the number of errors Tom stretched the lead to 4-2.
With Tom at the hazard end in the next game he played a shot to 3 yards giving Gus a point before he Gus found a serve that Tom could only return into the net 4-3.
But this game was the exception with Tom’s steady impressive play finding the corners and Gus only able to take a single point in each of the next two. Tom’s volleyed returns of Gus’s dedans forces now found their marks and one which died in the corner under the grille gave Tom the set 6-3.
The dedans was enthralled by the exhibition provided by the two players as the match went into the deciding set.
It started with a now uncharacteristic error from Tom playing the ball out of court and onto the tambour before a shot into the net giving Gus the first game 0-1.
But Tom’s steady play repeatedly finding a length and the corners earned hi mthe next game without a response. 1-1.
In the third game of the deciding set Gus found the service wall corner in front of the dedans and forced Tom to improvise a shot that looped over the net and died just before hitting the tambour. Tom took the resulting hazard chase to go 2-1 up. Gus then won the next game with two serves that Tom could only return into the net. 2-2.
Another service return error in the fifth gave Gus a 40-15 lead before the players changed ends for a two yard chase. Gus made the length but couldn’t beat Tom who took the point. Then another force from Gus earned a volleying error from Tom to give Gus the lead 2-3.
Tom responded with more steady play into the corners eluding Gus’s racket to take the sixth game 3-3 and the seventh 4-3.
In the next game a missed chase gave Gus a point but he couldn’t find the second before Tom closed the game out to go 5-3 up.
With Tom needing one more game for the title Gus found himself at the service end swinging at and missing a ball that died at three yards. He won the point. Well left. Two points later Gus wasn’t going to repeat his error and shouldered arms to a shot that landed worse than 3 giving him the game 5-4.
The lesson worked again at the start of the next game earning Gus another point 40-o30 before Tom back at the service end could only play a service return into the net levelling the match 1 set all and 5-5.
In the tournaments deciding game Tom served well and covered all of Gus’s returns claiming the points he needed to overhaul the handicap advantage before playing a weighted soft shot into the corner under the grille that Gus could only swing at. Game to Tom 40-30 and the match 2-6, 6-3, 6-5.
The dedans rose to applaud both players who had provided an excellent spectacle. Gus had come with a plan which he executed well beyond anything that might be expected from a player of his handicap and bodes well for his tennis future. Tom in return was forced to dig deep and use all of his experience to claim another title.
Steve Walsh representing the tournament sponsors was on hand to present the winner with the trophy and a new racket.