Whisper it but Sutton’s Mighty 5ths had a rare treat today – a home tie. This season (and for the previous six consecutive seasons), we have drawn 3 away ties and 2 home ones. Home comforts could not be maximised by playing on our beloved artificial clay this time, though, as our third team had booked those courts for themselves so porous acrylic would have to do.
Those who have followed our season so far will know that David Lunn and Jason Smythe have only lost one set together and are the new first pair. Still, with Derick away and Mike unwell, we had to call up two juniors – Callum Furmidge (who did play one match for us in the winter 2014-15 season) and Finn Doyle. Conventional wisdom dictates that you don’t put two juniors together in two-pair doubles matches because so many of their tournaments are played in the singles format and, so the received wisdom goes, they tend to lack doubles experience. The question was then, do we keep an established winning partnership and play the juniors together or do we put an adult and a junior in each pair so that there was always an experienced doubles player?
David’s instinct was to keep the experienced, winning combination in tact right up until he heard that Jason had been on the lash last night and was rather hungover today. It was, apparently, quite a party and the best that Jason could offer in mitigation was that he had at least remembered his shorts (which he didn’t last time he arrived at a match straight from a party). In the circumstances, cowardice took hold and it was decided that the youngest player of all, 12 year old Finn, would have to carry Jason while David would partner Callum.
David really threw Finn to the sharks here because, not only did he have to carry Jason, David also made them first pair! Yes, he really is that mean to children (though this particular child is ranked no 2 in the country in his age group so he can hold his own).
First up, Jason and Finn faced Spencer’s 1st pair. Finn encouraged Jason to ‘hit the middle ball’ and to imbibe as much coffee as possible at the changeovers. It was a Herculean task but Finn carried Jason home 6-2 6-2.
Next up David and Callum faced Spencer’s second pair. It must be said that, as team captain, David picks his partners carefully and Callum’s blend of fierce ground strokes and forceful serving more than made up for David’s below par performance as they turned in a 6-2 7-5 win.
Jason and Finn then turned their firepower on the Spencer second pair and, with Jason nearly sober now, they proceeded to dissect their opponents in clinical fashion 6-0 6-1. This was despite Finn being so cold that his hands turned blue. Literally blue.
All that remained was for David and Callum to finish the job. David, however, was unselfish (he’s a great guy in that respect). He wanted Callum to have all the glory and he showed his generous side by playing like a blind schoolgirl. Spencer took the first set 6-1 in about 15 seconds and if we were to win this, Callum wouldn’t need to share the limelight in the write up. Callum then came up with a plan, told David how to turn it around and then led the fight back by example. We took the second set 7-5 and forced a Champions’ Tie-Break. Spencer roared to a 9-4 lead leaving Sutton to defend five match points. Finer writers than me will doubtless pen songs, which will be sung for years to come while drinking much beer, about how Callum dug in from there. He served howitzers, returned like a man possessed and even inspired David to return in a similar vein. By 9-9 Spencer looked a tad nervous. They did, however, win the next point to give themselves a sixth match point at 10-9. Sutton then crafted a fine point and engineered a good chance to put it away to draw level once again. Sadly, the killing shot was dragged fractionally wide and the rubber was lost but remember the names of Finn Doyle and Callum Furmidge. We will be hearing more of them in matches to come.
With Jools Freeman and Jake Fellowes still to be unleashed this season, our current squad could still be winning matches in 30 years’ time (though Mike will be 94 by then and maybe not so keen to serve and volley every point).