The Men's first team went into Sunday's match against Langley with a 100% win record - the best start to an AEGON season in the Club's history. The home tie, a favourable advantage when facing a clay court club with several Southern European players, left Captain Harry Randle confident of a win. The confidence might have been dashed when the opposition showed up an hour before the scheduled start time, to adjust to the unusual surface. TBLTC legend and former Chairman - Mike Baggs gave Randle a detailed assessment of the warm up, down to every stretch, forehand and player strength/weakness.
The fixture kicked off with the doubles rather than singles - something both sides can agree on. It happened to favour the TBLTC players rather than the opposition - who it was assumed had hoped to use the doubles to find their stride on what they considered 'very quick' courts. Carter/Randle at no.1 paring, faced off against two players capable of consistent doubles play. After losing the first set 7-5, Carter/Randle changed serving ends and took the next 6-1. With one half of the oppositions paring failing to keep his first set level - the TBLTC duo took it 10-6 in the third. On court 7, the club's newest player Nick Wade, partnered with Colorado comrade and previous day British Tour finalist - Tom Pudney. The two got off to a quick start, playing a form of quick aggressive doubles play when returning and a solid volley play from the net. It never look likely that the Langley duo would cause them much bother and it was reflected in a comfortable 6-3 6-4 win.
Into the singles... Carter at no.1 faced off against Langley's chosen challenger. What ensued was to be a face off the likes of which you'd expect in qualifying week at a major grand slam tournament. While admittedly Carter wasn't at his best, the Langley player named 'Andre' was able to replicate Agassi in many of his crushing baseline rallies. It was however, Mr Carter who claimed a comfortable victory and continue an impressive AEGON Run of only one set lost in all TBLTC AEGON appearances... At no. 2 Pudney faced off against Andre's brother. The three set tussle which followed showed Pudney's continued determined approach to his match play mindset. After losing the first set in a tight tie break, he was able to break down his opponent comfortably breaking serve and winning the next two 6-3 6-2. Having played on hard courts non stop in the States, it looks like Pudney's astro turf play is coming back for the summer. It was definitely match of the day and had the home crowd firmly focused on the outcome. On court 6, Randle took on a tall Greek/Spaniard player. It's fair to say the Langley player's game is more suited to the clay courts of the continent (and Langley's)... His normally high rising balls which could have played havoc with Randle's game were demoted to nicely sitting balls all of which were capitalised on with approaches to the net. Randle sealed the deal with a 6-3 6-4 win. On court 5, Nick Wade, making his debut for TBLTC and has probably packed on a few kilos of additional muscle mass since last playing at the club, showed his consistent form fresh from the US! In the words of his sporting opponent, Wade took him to the cleaners 6-0 7-5. It seems Wade will make a great asset to the strengthening team in the coming matches and years.
Indeed TBLTC did take Langley to the cleaners on Sunday. A fitting revenge for last year's loss on a tie break shootout on the dreaded green clay nestled on a hill in Langley, Hertfordshire... The team are now four fixtures played, four fixtures won. Despite the home victory, the team must now travel away for two straight matches before returning home for the final match of the season. While promotion to the national division could prove illusive yet... it does seem that talk of TBLTC's promotion to the National division is being talked about from the Club's bar to the outer fringes of the Region.
Man of the match was Tom Pudney. Further congratulations to his recent British Tour final. Special thanks go to all those who came out to support the team on Sunday. To Phil Daniels for helping set up the courts, to Barry's gang, for eating all the team food and to the 1st Team confidant Paul Marks for ensuring the team were well watered post match.