Depleted Stratford lose out in Charity Cup final

Leamington and Stratford line up for the camera alongside league officials following Sunday’s Inter-League Charity Cup final.

LEAMINGTON Spa claimed the bragging rights in their Inter-League Charity Cup final against Stratford at the Wildmoor Spa & Health Club on Sunday.

The 2016 final saw Wildmoor Spa Summer Tennis League champions Stratford take on Leamington, who won the Stratford & District Winter League.

This was the fifteenth year of this competition between the two leagues, the winners of which decide the fate of the £100 cheque donated by the leagues.

Stratford fielded a slightly depleted side as two of their top players Callum Bailey and Roy Malik were already playing in a competition in Chipping Campden.

Their team was captain Tim Page, partnering Simon West and Chris Marrow partnering Will Morley-Cotterell.

For the Winter League, Leamington fielded a strong side with captain Miguel Espada partnered by Ben Franklin, while Rupert Larkin partnered Martin Todd.

The last four years had seen these two teams fight out tremendously close contests and this final was certainly no exception although the final scoreline did not reflect how long and closely contested most games were. In the first three of these encounters Stratford had just come out on top to take the trophy.

Last year there was nothing to choose between the sides and they each shared the cup for six months.

This year, there was some excellent close tennis with every point being fought over very hard. The result was yet another long contest lasting three hours and forty minutes even longer than last year when every set went to tie-breaks.

Rupert Larkin and Martin Todd took a first round point for Leamington, by beating Stratford captain Tim Page and partner Simon West 6-3, 6-0.

However, they were then made to wait another 50 minutes before the rubber on the other court could be decided in an epic battle.

Leamington eventually made it 2-0 when their pair captain Miguel Espada and Ben Franklin finally overcame Stratford’s Chris Marrow and Will Morley-Cotterell after two tie-break sets 7-6, 7-6.

The second round of rubbers were both close and both seemed to go on forever before Leamington took a misleading 4-0 win when Espada and Franklin finally triumphed over Page and West 6-3, 7-6 and Larkin and Todd finally broke Marrow and Morely Cotterell 6-7, 6-4, 1-0 (10-3) after a Championship tie-break decider.

The cup and individual awards were presented by the chairman of both the Summer & Winter Leagues Tony Eskew.

The secretary of the Wildmoor Spa Summer League, Corin Bishop, presented a cheque from his league for £100 to Leamington’s chosen charity Myton Hospice.