Saturday 27th July saw a group of nine coaches and players leaving our Canterbury Centre to head towards Brentwood to camp for this year's Essex Open Tournament. Although the tournament, which is hosted by Billericay Tennis Club and run by Tennis Services UK, doesn't start until the Sunday the campers set off early to settle into their new home for the week!
Sunday morning arrived and with Dan Gould playing his first match at 9.30am the group headed towards the tennis courts for an early morning hit. Supervised by Eb and Richard the youngsters were soon warmed up and ready to play their first matches of the week.
With Dan successfully winning his first match against Jonathan Payling (8.1) 6-1, 6-0 the rest of the team were keen to follow in his footsteps. Next up were some of our younger matchball youngsters. Stephen Friend worked hard in his match against Matthew Doe(7.2) but Matthew's greater experience showed through and he was able to take the win 0-6, 1-6. Both Oliver Richards and JoJo Thomas had much closer matches with Oliver just losing out to Jayden Tran (G1*) 7-5, 1-6, 2-10 and JoJo losing to Harrison Birch (7.1) 4-6, 4-6.
Next up on court was one of our non camping youngsters. Charlotte Hobbs faced Patricia Mindham(6.2) in the ladies draw. Charlotte, who is part of The Canterbury High School sixth form Academy left the court victorious with a 7-5, 6-1 win against a player two rating levels above her!
Meanwhile in the Men's draw Graham Hunt was battling against Sam Roy Cowdhury(5.1). Graham worked hard but Sam was able to convert more points and took the win 2-6, 0-6. In his second match of the day Dan was drawn against Jamie Thwaites. Jamie's consistency showed through allowing to edge ahead and win the match 2-6, 4-6
Our final match of the day saw Jamie Wallace meeting Murray Lane (6.2) in the 16U draw. The match proved to be a close one but after losing the first set Jamie stayed focused and pulled ahead to win through 3-6, 6-4, 6-2.
The second day gave most of our youngsters chance to play up an age group with JoJo and Oliver entering their first 14U grade 3 draw.
After some long rallies JoJo just lost out to Luke Pike (8.1) whilst Ollie Richards played really well in what had to be the best match of the day for The Appeti Team against Frazer Martin(6.2). Frazer is much older and more experienced then Ollie but this didn't show as both boys matched each other in what proved to be a real contest. However after some great points Frazer was able to pull ahead and take the win 6-4, 6-2 but the experience gave Oliver a real springboard for future 14U matches!
Not to be outdone by our younger players Dan and Jamie also were playing up an age group in the 18U draw. Jamie quickly saw off his opponent, David Mould with a 6-3, 6-0 victory whilst Dan made a slower start against Wiktor Glowacz (7.1). In what proved to be a fantastic comeback Dan recovered after losing the first set to his higher rated opponent to take the match 1-6, 7-6(4), 6-2. However this victory meant that Dan and Jamie now had to face each other in the next round where Jamie made a confident start and never really looked back to win through 1-6, 1-6.
Tuesday saw play delayed by rain however for our youngsters it just meant an opportunity for the 'Uno Masters' to begin. With only Jamie Wallace and Charlotte Hobbs due to play there was plenty of chance for everyone else to get involved. By lunchtime the rain began to give way and the tennis resumed! The afternoon also saw some new arrivals to the campsite with Tim and some of our younger players keen to explore and help with the evening preparations.
After a wet day much to everyones delight Day 4 arrived dry and sunny. Four of our youngers were keen to join in the fun and compete in their box stage of the 9U draw. Jayan and Joseph were first to take to the courts and showed some great sportsman like attitude throughout their matches. In the afternoon it was the turn of Esther and Will, again both youngsters stayed positive in some tricky matches.
The first doubles matches saw JoJo teaming up with Stephen to take on Jayden Tran and Kieran Williams in the 13U boys event. All four boys battled well but at one set all Jayden and Kieran were able to pull ahead in the deciding tiebreak and win through 7-5, 2-6, 1-0(6). The 16U doubles gave Jamie and Dan chance to partner up and face brothers Olugbemiga and Oluwayomi Adenaike. Dan and Jamie quickly pulled ahead in the first set but found themselves 0-3 down in the second however they stayed confident and fought their way back to take the match 6-1, 6-3.
Thursday saw our 12U youngsters back on court with Stephen playing Leo Belloy and in our second head to head of the tournament JoJo playing Oliver. Stephen's match proved a very close affair with Stephen remaining calm and in control to win through 6-4, 7-5. Both JoJo and Ollie played well. From past results there was no telling who would win however JoJo had a great match and couldn't miss so left the court with a 6-1, 6-1 victory.
With Day 5 drawing to a close Dan and Jamie were next up with their second round in the 16U doubles where they played the number one seeds, David Mould and Lewis Tyler. This proved to be a real nail biter with Dan and Jamie working well as a partnership to push their opponents all the way. After losing the first set 6-2 the boys were able to level the score by winning the second 6-2 so everything was left to play for in the deciding tiebreak. Again the boys played well but their opposition were able to convert more points and take the win 10-4.
The penultimate day saw the start of the 10U draw and gave Appeti youngster Ciaran Brewer chance to take to the Billericay courts. An extremely heavy downpour delayed play and getting used to the wet astroturf courts took Ciaran some time however by his second match he confidently settled into his normal game and left the court with a 4-1, 5-4 victory. His last match of the afternoon saw Ciaran playing some great tennis with some fantastic rallies. By the end of the afternoon he had been able to develop valuable experience on a different court surface and was keen to use this experience in future matches.
In the meantime both Ollie and JoJo were having great matches in their 14U consolation matches. The youngsters faced opponents who were much older and bigger than themselves but neither boys let this effect their game. Ollie played a great match against Ezekiel Temiloluwa Oni. Although the result could have gone either way Ezekiel's greater strength helped him win through to reach the final 7-6(4), 7-5. JoJo also played well against William Fisher. He remained focused and manage to secure his place in his second final of the tournament by winning 7-5, 6-2.
After a busy week the final day of The Essex Open 2013 arrived. With JoJo playing in two finals and Ulrich Nienaber joining us for the 8U event there was plenty of interest for the Appeti Team.
In the 12U Consolation final JoJo played the number one seed, Marcus Leong who had knocked out team mate Stephen the day before. After some great points Marcus remained consistent to win the title 6-3, 6-2.
Meanwhile Ulrich played well throughout the box stage in the 8U draw and reached the semi final without dropping a game. In the semi's he faced Aston Diva-Nix. Both boys matched each other point for point but at 8 all Aston got a lucky break to win the match 10-8. This left Ulrich in the 3rd, 4th playoff where he beat Jack Wallace 10-7 meaning that over the morning he had won 6 out of 7 of his matches. A great achievement for any player but particularly for Ulrich who can still enter this age group next summer!
In his second final of the day and our last match of the week JoJo faced Ezekiel Temiloluwa Oni. Although JoJo put up a good fight and made his opponent work hard to win the title Ezekiel's strength pulled him through to win the 14U consolation 6-4, 6-1.
With our last match finished the week drew to a close. We'd like to thank David Fuchs from Tennis Services Uk for his great organisation and Billericay Tennis Club for making us all so welcome throughout the tournament
We look forward to seeing you all next year!
<a href="https://flic.kr/s/aHsjHgHF1w"target="_blank">Click here to see photos from the week.