Week 5 matches last week saw the Francos Spring Tennis League moving past the halfway stage with all teams looking to stay in contention for the finals just before Easter.
The week’s first match was a tight affair with Yvonne Masterson’s table topping Francos Specials held to a surprising 48-48 draw by bottom of the table Crème Brulees captained by Ken Yang. With both teams fielding three subs it was the Crème Brulees who led by two games after the mixed thanks to two impressive 7-5 wins for captain Ken with Mary Griffin and Cyril Boyd playing with league newcomer Madeleine Casey. Indeed both Mary and Madeleine went on to record superb doubles on the night as they also won their ladies doubles 7-5 against Bennie Sheridan and the back from injury Priscilla Fawcett. However all was not lost for the Specials as a storming 8-4 win for Louise McGann and Lisa Greaves over Brenda Davis and sub Josie Boyle finally salvaged a draw for Yvonne’s charges keeping them out in front of the group.
While Monday’s second match was not so close it was no less surprising as the previously unbeaten Fine Wines captained by the irrepressible Seamus O’Connell were beaten 53-43 by Michelle McTeague’s Silverhill Ducks enabling the Ducks to leapfrog the Fine Wines into that all important second qualifying place. Biggest win of the night came in the opening mixed as both Scott Hubbard and Martina Boyd hit top form yet again winning 9-3 against the usually tough pairing of Jimmy Renfrew and Sonja Hateboer. The next two matches were shared 7-5 meaning a clear cut 8-4 victory for Andrew Jackson and Michelle McTeague in the bottom mixed left the Ducks 10 games clear at the halfway stage. The doubles looked to be heading in the same direction as Scott and Paul Lendrum won out 8-4 for the Ducks against Jimmy and Martin Hamblin but the Fine Wines finally stopped the rot with two comeback 6-6 draws in the middle doubles and a fine 8-4 win for Jennifer Kelly and sub Katrina Cathcart over sub Anne Mooney and Michelle McTeague on court four.
With all four teams still in the running for both qualifying slots it was set up for a tense and close fought session of tennis on Wednesday night. First up was a first v second affair as Sheila Colville’s Chilli Monks looked to stretch their lead over Eilis Bogue’s Pizza Slicers. The fact that there were three 6-6 draws and three 7-5 wins in eight matches shows just how closely matched the teams were on the night. However an 8-4 win in the nights top match for Dominic Burns and top Monk Jenny Humphreys over Hugh Maguire and Eilis Bogue seemed to give the Monks the edge. Thanks to a serious 7-5 comeback win from 4-0 down by Emmett Stewart and Aine King on court four the Slicers did pull it back to level by the halfway point but they had to wait until the final match of the night to grasp a crucial 49-47 win as Anne Smyth and Aine King continued their games accumulation with a hard fought 8-4 win over Sheila Colville and Hazel Dineen despite practically every game going to deuce.
Having just seen the top two in the group fight out a close match, John Griffin was hopeful of seeing his Private Diners move into one of the two qualifying spots with a win over bottom of the group Early Birds. However, while the matches did get started they ultimately fell foul off the tennis courts arch enemy, ice with both teams agreeing a 48-48 tie early into the first half mixed.
Standings after Week 5
Monday: 261 Francos Specials; 243 Silverhill Ducks; 235 Fine Wines; 221 Crème Brulees
Wednesday: 255 Chilli Monks; 247 Pizza Slicers; 241 Private Diners; 217 Early Birds