Graham Thomas and Scott Woolley have 18 Marlborough senior residential doubles titles between them after surviving a big semifinal scare before claiming the silverware at the Forrest Winery Marlborough Tennis Centre in Blenheim on Sunday.
A healthy field of 13 pairs contested the men's competition and, following a first round bye, No 1 seeds Thomas and Woolley cruised past Kent and Jack Winstanley 6-0 6-1 in the quarterfinals. That set up a semifinal with fourth seeds Chris Nott and Dave Sandford, who had a 6-1 6-1 first round victory over Yuichi Ando and Hiro Kishida, and a 6-2 6-2 triumph over Allen and Ellis Diamanti in the quarterfinals.
In what was a very tense semifinal, Nott and Sandford got off to a great start and took the first set 6-2. Thomas and Woolley fought back to win a close second set 6-4 and force a super-tiebreak, but some powerful and aggressive tennis from Nott and Sandford saw them go to match point at 9-8. However, doing what they have become renowned for, the No 1 seeds called on their vast experience, winning three straight points to secure victory 11-9 and advance to the final.
Champions in 2012, but unable to defend their title last year due to injury, Thomas and Woolley were in no mood to risk another close match in the title decider. They produced a dominant display of precision and high-quality doubles to beat second seeds Hamish Morrow and Andrew Forgesson 6-1 6-2. The result was Thomas' 14th win and Woolley's fourth, Thomas' first title coming a remarkable 37 years ago in 1977.
Morrow and Forgesson beat Nick and Josh Winter 6-0 6-2 in the quarterfinals before prevailing 6-1 6-4 over third seeds Peter Rogge and Brendon Sutherland in the semifinals. Nott and Sandford were 6-4 6-1 winners over Rogge and Sutherland in the playoff for third, while Ben Burridge and Lee Harborne won the consolation competition with a 6-1 6-3 victory against Kent and Jack Winstanley.
Meanwhile, top seeds Eveline Apthorp and Lynn Murray were crowned women's champions after beating second seeds Lily O'Fagan and Donna Clark.
Apthorp and Murray combined well early on to take the first set 6-1. O'Fagan, going for her fourth straight title, and Clark were more consistent in the second set, though, fighting back to prevail 6-3 and send the match to a super-tiebreak. The more experienced pair held their nerve, winning the tiebreaker 10-4 to secure Apthorp's third Walsh Cup triumph and Murray's second.
Apthorp and Murray beat Tricia Bancroft and Sandy Stubbs 6-3 6-1 in the semifinals, while O'Fagan and Clark defeated Karina Greenall and Dale Hyland 6-2 6-2.
The Marlborough senior tennis season ends this weekend with the residential mixed doubles on grass at the Rapaura club.
- The Marlborough Express