Welcome back to our official EJMSL blog! Here, we will be looking back at the 15th edition of our amazing amateur tennis tournament; EJTT.
Its been a strange year for everyone, and our annual tennis tournament was due to be held in May 2020, but we had to postpone until September, but I must say, we were extremely lucky with the weather. We didn't have a drop of rain for the first 3 weeks!
Right lets get to it.
This was actually the first tournament we have spent money on to advertise, so it was good to see a record amount of singles entries since 2017, and a record amount of doubles entries since 2016.
Once again, 7 time champ Reece Foxon was the defending, but his opponent in last year's final was out. Unfortunately unable to play due to a wrist injury. This was just the 2nd tournament in 12 years that our 2016 champion, Matt Leadbetter has missed out on. Reece's nearest challengers were expected to be 2018 champion Ashley Jolly and debutant Kshitij Chauhan. Outside of them was the 07 & 08 champ Elliot Jones and the much improved Shiel Dadrah.
Ade Serrano was a new name on the scene, and with an 8.2 LTA rating, you couldn't rule him out. You can also never rule out best friends Daniel Nash & Joe Frost. Nash won the Masters in 2017, and both of them have improved year on year, despite never reaching the semis here.
The doubles featured perhaps the most competitive field we've ever had. The defending champions were Joe Frost & Dan Nash, but 6 times champions Foxon & Jones were back. However, the favourites were new pairing Chauhan & Jolly. Outside of those 3 you had the Lewis's, a dangerous team indeed, plus 4th seeds Gary Beazleigh & Paul Hayes, who were just concentrating on the doubles. And fans of EJTT would have been extremely excited to see two old faces in the doubles, returning after 9 years away. They refer to themselves as 'The slice is right'. 2010 quarter finalists Pat Newton & Martin Putman.
The draws were broadcasted live on Facebook and as ever it threw up some great ties. For a start, number 3 seed Kshitij Chauhan had been drawn into the same half as defending champ Foxon, and 8th seed Michael Springett was drawn into Foxon's quarter for a possible 3rd meeting in 5 years. Dadrah was the form player that the top players would have wanted to avoid, and he got a difficult draw, landing in Chauhan's quarter. Dan Nash was drawn into Jolly's quarter for the 2nd year in a row, while the other quarter was a possible match up between the 4th & 5th seeds; Jones & Serrano. The top 7 seeds went straight into round 2, with the number 1 seed Foxon straight through to the quarters.
The first round featured 16 players, and personally the two ties that excited me the most were Paul Clark v Isabelle Eustache & Simon Watson v Michael Lewis. Clark had recently just finished bottom of the EJMSL premier league, while Eustache had finished top of division 1, so a great match up on paper. Watson v Lewis had the makings of another close battle. With a lot of debutants in the draw, it was hard to predict a lot of the matches.
In the doubles, Frost & Nash were handed a really tough draw to defend their title, with a route to the final possibly featuring Lewis/Lewis in the quarters, followed by Chauhan/Jolly & Foxon/Jones. EJTT legends Martin Putman & Patrick Newton were handed a 1st round draw against another EJTT legend in the shape of Simon Watson, who was playing with his 5th different partner; his girlfriend Anna Johnson.
The order of play was out, and the tournament kicked off at 9am on Saturday 5th September at King George V playing fields, Sittingbourne. The opening singles match featured debutant George Collins, against 2 time quarter finalist Joe Frost, the highest ranked undseeded player. A tough draw for Collins, and so it turned out to be. Frost, the master of the whitewash, produced his 4th 6-0, 6-0 win in just 3 EJTTs. Ruthless.
In the doubles, it was Putman/Newton v Johnson/Watson. On paper this was a good match up, but the cobwebs were still showing on the rackets of Putman & Newton. Johnson & Watson ran out easy 6-1, 6-0 winners. The next match was arguably the match of the tournament, and definitely the longest. Debutant Michael Lewis was on the verge of pulling off a shock straight forward victory against 12th ranked Simon Watson. Lewis led 6-1, 5-2, and at 5-3, 40-15, he had 2 match points. But 3 time semi finalist Watson rallied, he battled back, took the set to a tiebreak, won that 7-1 and firmly swung the momentum in his favour. Watson had found his game, in the 3rd set he went 4-1 up and had 2 break points to make it 5-1, but couldn't take them. It was Lewis's turn to battle back, he got back to 4-4, but Watson went 5-4 up, and at 0-40 in the next game, Watson had 3 match points. But there was further drama, Lewis won the next 5 straight points to level at 5-5! By this point, both players were seriously flagging, and 2 games shared meant we were to finish with another tiebreak. Both players gave it everything, but it was Lewis that eventually came out on top, winning the tiebreak 7-4 and completing the victory in exactly 2 hours & 30 minutes. The 3rd longest match in our history. In the days other matches, two more debutants picked up wins. Andy Taylor beat Nick Leeks, while Kamil Mocar beat Ashley Watson. Both in straight sets.
Michael Lewis had to recover quickly, because he was in doubles action the following morning, and he and his Dad put in a very impressive performance to beat Isabelle Eustache & Riccardo Ragazzo, 6-3, 6-2. There was also a superb doubles win for the 4th seeds, Gary Beazleigh & Paul Hayes. They dispatched Andy Taylor & Ashley Watson for the loss of just 2 games.
In the afternoon, Riccardo Ragazzo won his first ever match in the main draw of EJTT. He beat Anna Johnson 6-0, 6-1. And in the final game of the day, we got to see Kshitij Chauhan's title credentials, he dazzled in a 6-3, 6-2 win, putting out a tough player in Joe Frost.
On Monday 6th September, it was the 4th seed's turn, Elliot Jones wasn't at his best, but he squeezed through, beating Kamil Mocar 6-4, 6-3, who had the 2 time champ worried at times. Wednesday was Michael Springett's turn. The 8th seed was at the peak of his powers, he thrashed debutant Said Chratou, who didn't do much wrong himself.
Thursday 10th saw a double bagel win for Shiel Dadrah over Ragazzo, and a three set thriller between 2 more debutants, Ade Serrano & Victor Malaschuk. The latter was just 2 points away from knocking out the 5th seed at 5-3, 30-0 up in the decider, but Serrano battled back to win 7-5 and book his quarter final place against Elliot Jones.
Friday 11th saw the first consolation match played, with George Collins gaining his first ever competitive tennis win, beating Nick Gardner on his 11th EJTT appearance. Paul Clark & Isabelle Eustache then played out another classic, Clark edged a very close first set on a tiebreak, but Isabelle wrapped up the 2nd 6-2. With darkness swiftly approaching, Clark conceded. Isabelle had become the first female since Siobhan Weston a decade ago, to reach the 2nd round at EJTT. Under the lights at Frindsbury LTC, 2018 champion Ashely Jolly joined the party. Though he was pushed hard by Andy Taylor, he came through unscathed 6-2, 6-4.
After such a busy first weekend, we only had 1 match the following weekend. Two time quarter finalist Dan Nash wasn't at his best, but he did enough to beat Michael Lewis 6-2, 6-4 to reach his 3rd quarter final in 4 years.
Monday 14th September saw the 2nd longest match of the tournament, and a match that broke 3 records. All going to Kshitij Chauhan. He won an enthralling quarter final against Shiel Dadrah 7-6(1), 4-6, 6-0 at Gravesham LTC. He smashed all previous records for winners. Hitting 36 off the forehand, 28 off the backhand, 64 in total. Chauhan had put down a statement, he was here to win.
The following day Michael Springett ended Isabelle's hopes of becoming the first female to reach a quarter final, and by Wednesday 16th, the consolation draw was in full swing. Malashchuk, S.Watson, Chratou & Clark all impressed, winning their consolation quarter finals in straight sets.
Saturday 19th, and we were down at Jackson's Field, Rochester. The first match was a quarter final between the 4th & 5th seeds. It was a close encounter, with a lot of deuces, but 2 time champ Elliot Jones reached a record 13th semi final, winning 6-3, 6-3. Ade Serrano was out, but a quality addition to the tournament, so hopefully he'll be back next year.
We decided to run a doubles consolation this year, and competing in the first ever match was Andy Taylor & Ashley Watson ver