Chichester Racquets and Fitness Club members excelled at the 2016 GB seniors’ grass-court championships
The 35-plus to 55-plus age groups played this year at Surbiton Racquets Club and the 60-plus to 85-plus groups went to East Gloucestershire Tennis Club.
Chichester members Chris Nicholls (60-plus) and Chris Ornstien (70-plus), who train together regularly on the synthetic clay courts at the club, made the trip to the East Glos club in Cheltenham to test their skills in their respective age groups and both performed extremely well.
Ornstien survived a slight scare in the quarter-final of his 70-plus singles event, but unwaveringly prevailed 6-1 in the third set before the regular summer pattern of sunshine and showers set in on the Friday.
The changeable weather forced the organisers to move the semi-finals off the grass courts and on to the back-up synthetic clay courts. Ornstien seemed more prepared and easily won the semi-final 6-1, 6-3.
The final was scheduled for the Saturday but the forecast was for more showers and strong winds, so the organisers asked the finalists if they were prepared to play again on the Friday.
Ornstien and his opponent Nigel Barker from Somerset, the 70-plus GB captain for the forthcoming world super seniors championships being staged in Croatia, both agreed it would make sense to try to complete the final.
Barker grabbed the first set 6-1 but Ornstien began to settle and took the second 6-3 and nearly three hours after they started, Ornstien took the third set 6-2, to claim his first ever national singles title.
Ornstien had also entered the doubles. Ornstien and his partner from Cheshire, Peter Clover, seeded No1, defeated the No2 seeds 6-4, 6-4 in the final.
This was Ornstien’s fourth national doubles title and his second of the year with Clover.
Ornstien is now ranked ITF No19 in the 70-plus singles category and No4 in the 70-plus doubles category.
The 60-plus men’s events had slightly more entries and Chris Nicholls, seeded No7, and comfortably won his opening two rounds to reach the quarter-final.
Nicholls played one of his best matches of the season against No2 seed Tony King. Nicholls won in straight sets 7-5, 6-4 to reach a semi-final against Russell Howat.
The No5 seed, however, was in red-hot form and Nicholls lost 6-3, 6-1.
In the 60-plus doubles event, however, Nicholls and his partner Jeff Fairbotham from Cheshire played powerfully from the start, beating a strong Scottish pair in the quarter- final before knocking out the No1 seeds in straight sets in their semi-final.
The final was played on a windy morning, with several breaks for rain, but Nicholls and Fairbotham were up against GB’s No1 60-plus player, Paul French, and his partner Jeremy Trafford.
Despite several chances to break serve in the second set, they were unable to convert them and French and Trafford won the title 6-1, 6-4.
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