Many Back For More

The 2009 Family Championships drew to a successful conclusion on the carpet courts of the excellent David Lloyd Dudley tennis centre where nine events were contested through the last two rounds.

Two pairs arrived keen to defend the titles they had successfully won last year. They involved Bristol's Joan and Julia Hassell (Mother & Daughter Open) and Malvern's Mike and Jamie Marks (Father & Son 14&U). The former, a retired schoolteacher and her daughter, a youth service project worker, successfully fended off the challenge of a younger pairing, last year's M&D14U champions, Sue Lawrence and her 15 year-old daughter Kim, a student at King's School in Macclesfield, 6-2,6-3.

The Marks looked favourites to retain their hard earned title and, as last year in the semis, found themselves embroiled in a tough final, probably the match of the weekend. They battled for two hours and 10 minutes, recovering from being a set down, only to see their title snatched from them by the Sutton pairing of  Jon and Sacha Modica, 6-4,3-6,7-5.

On the day, Jon, a tennis coach and his 12 year-old son, proved the more resilient and now Mike will have to turn his attention to playing in the Open next year as son Jamie crosses the 14 age barrier.

Another match pushing the F&S14U final for the match of the weekend accolade, was the battle of the heavyweights, the Father & Son Open. This year the title was contested between Marc & Charlie Dryden from Winchester, Hampshire, and Roger & Michael Ingham from Heywood, Lancashire. You could describe them as seasoned players and they didn't disappoint with last years runners-up, the Drydens, just edging out their challengers 7-6(7),7-5 after 105-minutes of very competitive play.

Roger Ingham, at 61 years of age, believes he is one of the older players and laughingly remembers the days when he played in the Remington sponsored event, making the finals at La Manga in 1988.

Alison & Tom Hands of Cambridge came close to scoring the events first double when they reached two finals. Their first chance came when they faced Emma & Adam Bowen in the Mother & Son 14&U but the couple from Kinnersley, Herefordshire, contained them well to claim a comfortable 6-3,6-3 victory. Alison, a chartered engineer and her 12 year-old son were not put off by that setback, returning to the court to claim an equally comfortable triumph in the Mother & Son Open, defeating Pamela & David MacFie 6-1,6-2.

A bad back strain forced Richard Joyner to concede a quarter final walkover during the postal section of the tournament but was handed a second chance when David & Eva Dench (Upminster) were forced to scratch before the weekend. Richard and daughter Mary from Nottingham, also benefitted from another walkover when Andrew & Romilly Smith from Askett, Buckinghamshire, also pulled out of their semi, Andrew having picked up a serious knee problem.

Taking full advantage of their good fortune the Joyners were quickly into their stride in the final but faltered in the second set when the match became much closer. However, they were able to hang on to secure the title with a 6-1,7-5 victory over Richard & Whitney Davies from Knebworth, Hertfordshire.

Another final which attracted a lot of attention was the clash for the Mother & Daughter 14&U title between Carol & Annie Koehli and Melanie & Nicola Jennings. It was the first match of the weekend to actually go to three sets and though the Koehli's from Bristol were always favourites, it looked as if the Kennilworth Jennings were set to cause an upset. Unfortunately they ran out of steam as the Koehli's romped home after dropping the first set, 3-6,6-0,6-0.

It was a second title for Annie who  had won, 12 months earlier in partnership with her father Nik, the F&D14&U title. This year that title was won by Virginia Water's Mike & Stephanie Cockram in what was an evenly matched contest between two similarly aged pairings, namely 46 and 13! Unfortunately Paul & Emily Sutcliffe from Boston, found themselves outgunned by the Cockrams who romped through 6-0,6-1.

Finally, the maxim that it always comes to those that wait, was proved. Last year Finn Ranson found losing the final of the Father & Son 10&U too much but those tears of despair were replaced with smiles of joy as this time, with Dad Paul, the Dronfield based pair went all the way, defeating Leamington Spa's Philip & George Holding 4-1,4-0.

Unfortunately no entries were received this year for the Mother & Daughter 10&U event.

All the winners and finalists received suitably engraved trophies as well as gifts from Prince, the Tennis Gallery Wimbledon and the Silver Tennis Collection, all great supporters of the event.

Family Championships
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