By Tony Sollis Monday 03 September 2012 Updated: 04/09 11:01
ONE of the closest Inter-League Charity Cup finals ever was staged at Alcester Tennis Club on Sunday between Stratford, representing the South Warwickshire Summer League, and Leamington, representing the Stratford & District Winter League.
This is the 11th year of this competition between the two leagues - the winners of which decide the fate of the £100 cheque donated by the leagues - and it was Stratford who had the honour this year as they won a thrilling contest.
Summer League champions Stratford fielded Callum Bailey partnered by Cameron Malik, whilst coach Ralf Neilsen was teamed up with Sam Righton. Stratford's normal captain Tim Page was away on holiday.
For the Winter League, Leamington fielded a cosmopolitan side of captain Miguel Espada with Andy Cowden, whilst Swiss-born Jonathan Hofstetter partnered Romain Jalard.
There followed some superb tennis rallies in the opening rubbers, especially between the top pairs of Stratford's Bailey and Malik against Leamington's Espada and Cowden, before the Stratford pair triumphed after many deuces 6-4, 6-4.
On the other court Leamington got the upper hand in another tight match as Hofstetter and Jalard beat Neilsen and Righton to square the match at the halfway point.
After the change Bailey and Malik played some scintillating tennis to overwhelm Hofstetter and Jalard 6-2, 6-3.
Meanwhile, it was a closer affair between the other pairings before Espada and Cowden again pulled the match level for Leamington at 2-2 as they overcame Neilsen and Righton 6-3, 6-4.
Both sides then agreed to their best pairs playing a Championship Tie-Break decider in which the first side to reach ten points by a margin of two clear points takes the title.
Stratford's Bailey and Malik started off like a train to take an 8-4 lead but Espada and Cowden pulled it back to an 8-9 deficit before Bailey pulled out yet another pass to clinch the Charity Cup for the Summer League and Stratford to add to their Premier Division title in 2012.
The cup and individual awards were presented by the competition sponsor and Summer League president, local Alcester man Tony King.
The chairman of both leagues and WLTA secretary Tony Eskew presented the £100 cheque to Stratford, who donated it to the Starlight Foundation children's charity.
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