Last Monday night saw the first matches in this year’s Enniskillen Tennis Spring League get under way. Sponsored once again by FRANCOS Restaurant the Spring League sees over 70 club members playing doubles and mixed doubles in a team format over the next ten Monday and Wednesday nights with the top four teams progressing to finals week at the end of March.
Thankfully the wintry weather from the previous week moved on leaving the courts ice free and ready for play. Starting off proceedings we had the Silverhill Ducks led by first time captain Michelle McTeague taking on Yvonne Masterson’s Francos Specials. Over the initial four mixed doubles, things could not have been tighter, with three of the matches ending 6-6 and the Silverhill Ducks gaining the slightest advantage as their less experienced three pairing of Jason Burns and Nadine Stewart squeezed through 7-5 against the more experienced Kevin Burns and Michelle Kennedy. However once the format changed to doubles Francos Specials had too much in hand winning three and drawing one to eventually run out 43-53winners. Keys wins came from the dangerous pairing of Davy Thompson and Ollie McShea whose different styles perfectly combined in their 8-4 win over the big serving duo of Scott Hubbard and Paul Lendrum while Kevin Burns and Rory Houston settled into their pairing early in an important 9-3 win over Jason Burns and Andrew Jackson.
Monday’s second match was a much closer affair as Seamus O’Connell’s Fine Wine Aces rode their luck in beating Ken Yang’s Crème Brulees by the minimum 49-47. It was all square at the halfway stage with both sides fighting for every game, in particular Ken Yang and Maxine Leary coming back from 5-1 down to tie their mixed with Seamus O’Connell and Jennifer Kelly. However the Brulees seemed to be getting the better of the Aces with a 9-3 win for Clive Funston and Alex Knowles over Jerome Nicolle and Martin Hamblin in the top mens and an 8-4 win for captain Ken in the second mens with Cyril Boyd. Unfortunately that was the point when things turned sour for the Brulees as Jennifer Kelly and Fiona Drumm combined brilliantly on court four to post an 11-1 win and bring the Aces back from the brink. When all the scores were in the Fine Wine Aces had just done enough to edge a thrilling night’s play 49-47.
The first match on Wednesday night saw Sheila Colville’s Chilli Monks start their league with a 53-43 win over Innes Redmond’s Early Birds. All the damage was done in the mixed with the decisive win coming from Marius Blake and Veronica Bogue whose combined accuracy and consistency was too much on the night for Tony Ringland and Heather Williams as they won 9-3 giving the Chilli Monks an 8 game lead at the half way stage. While the ever stylish Bennie Sheridan and Gwen Wilson did post a 9-3 win in the doubles over Sheila Colville and Hazel Dineen on court four to give the Early Birds hope this was quickly quashed by a similar win for Monks Stuart Miller and John Callaghan with Stuart enjoying a particularly impressive return to league tennis.
Wednesday night’s second match saw John Griffin’s Private Diners up against Eilis Bogue’s Pizza Slicers and it was John and partner Vanessa McBrien who got off to a flyer with an impressive 9-3 win over Eilis and Hugh Maguire. With Eilis hammering in both first and second serves it was only a top form John finding his best angles from the back of the court combined with a superb display of volleying from Vanessa that gave the Private diners the edge. This was the only highlight of the night for the Diners with Eilis and Enid Redmond gaining revenge over Vanessa and sub Liz McGuinness in the ladies winning a superb toe to toe battle 8-4. Mark Cousins and league debutant Katrina Cathcart did hold out for a brave 6-6 draw with the big serving Emmet Stewart and Aine King but Emmet did go on to record a tight 7-5 win in the doubles with Johnny Guette over Mark and the returning Keith Miller. While it did take Keith a number of games to find his form it was clear by the end of the night that the competitive instincts are still intact with more winners coming off Keith’s racket the longer the night went on. While the Pizza Slicers were always in control it was the 11-1 win in the ladies doubles for the quick starting Aine King and Anne Smyth which provided the special topping for the Slicers with Anne Smyth recording the highest games for the week having won her earlier mixed 9-3 with Johnny Guette.