Stringer takes the men’s title as club-mates battle it out at Berkhamsted

Chris Stringer, right, beat Nick Brooks in the men's singles final
Chris Stringer, right, beat Nick Brooks in the men's singles final

Rain failed to dampen the spirits of players or spectators at the Berkhamsted Tennis Club tournament on Saturday as head coach Chris Stringer demonstrated his prowess on the court.

The eagerly awaited men’s singles final was delayed by rain in the first set, when Stringer was neck and neck with younger coach Nick Brooks.

The David Lidderdale Memorial Cup for Endeavour was awarded to nine-year-old Esme Ivory

The David Lidderdale Memorial Cup for Endeavour was awarded to nine-year-old Esme Ivory

But it was Stringer who eventually prevailed, and he said: “It’s a real privilege to win the Club Championship. I’m actually shocked that I won, but I don’t think Nick will go so easy on me next year.”

Brooks then went on to play in the men’s doubles with Jose Mateus against Berkhamsted Elite Tennis Academy (BETA) coach Tyrell Diaz-Stevens and his 12-year-old rising star Joel Pierleoni – with Brooks and Mateus eventually winning after three gruelling sets.

The ladies’ singles final, meanwhile, saw 17-year-old BETA student Lizzie Johnson overcome first-time finalist Nicky Simper. Johnson said: “It was a great match against Nicky. I came runner-up three years ago so I was really pleased to win this year.”

The ladies’ doubles was again won by Judith Allnutt and Jenny Webster – two very experienced players – who defeated Simper and Jenny Fradgley in two sets.

It’s a real privilege to win the Club Championships. I’m actually shocked that I won.

Chris Stringer

Allnutt also won the over 40 ladies’ doubles with Penny Kent, while the mixed doubles was won by Alex Haddad and Jenny Webster, who beat Olly and Jenny Fradgley.

Simper had a full-on day and was compensated for her other losses by winning the drawn mixed doubles title with Ray Pitman.

In other singles matches, Craig Blythe beat Steve Passmore in the Men’s Tier 1, while Passmore had previously defeated Doug Houston in the over 45 men’s singles. Kirsty Hamilton won the ladies’ over 40s singles against Annette Connell.

Last but certainly not least, the special David Lidderdale Memorial Cup for Endeavour was this year awarded to nine-year-old Esme Ivory.

Lizzie Johnson won the ladies' singles title

Lizzie Johnson won the ladies' singles title

Esme has been competing from the age of six years. Training with Olly Culwick’s Berkhamsted Prestige Tennis Academy (BPTA), she has played well over 60 competitions, not including her team matches for Berkhamsted.

Esme’s commitment and perseverance is a great example to all the younger players coming through the ranks.

She has represented Bucks County at Red and Orange levels, as well as helping Berkhamsted to win the Herts Red Division last year.

Her greatest achievement came last September when she won the Bucks 8&U County Closed event which is known as one of the biggest events of the year.