CAMBRIDGE DOUBLES – THE JIM BENTLEY CUP
Sunday semifinals report from Martin Bronstein
This man Matt Jenson is either very good or very bad. Whatever face he happens to show he keeps his opponents on their toes. Today it was Damien Mudge and Manek Mathur whose toes must be aching. Not so much in the first game when they jumped quickly to a 3-1 lead and suddenly they were 6-1 ahead thanks to three Jenson errors. Mathur then rubbed salt into the wound with a winning slam down the court followed by a perfect drop shot to make the score 7-1, not the sort of mountain that Jenson and partner Scott Arnold want to climb so early in the match. Mathur & Mudge kept control of proceedings to lead 10-4 when Jenson’s good side came out: he hit three winners on the run to give his side a chance of getting back into the game at 7-10. Mudge stopped the run with a perfect overhead volley into the nick which was followed by two more errors from Jenson and Arnold to make the score 13-7 from which there was no going back. Jenson finished the game with a slam into the tin and the first seeds had the game 15-9 after 14 minutes.
In the second game everything went into reverse. Jenson & Arnold jumped to a 4-1 lead and although their opponents gave chase right through the game Jenson was now on target hitting nine outright winners. There was some pretty long rallies but Jenson always seemed to have the last word which helped his team nick the game 15-13 after 24 minutes of hard work.
Games three once more reversed the picture as Mathur & Mudge jumped to a 5-1 lead, hitting some nice winner of their own. They held the lead and ran out 15-7 winners in only just 11minutes to lead 2/1.
The fourth game was a battle with Jenson on the left wall hitting on the old man (Mudge is now 40) on the right wall in the hope he would tire. Jenson errors and winners cancelled each other out but he and Arnold played well enough to lead 11-7 with the promise of forcing a fifth game. Mudge hit two counter drops off Jenson drops and then served an ace to make the score 11-11. This was not the time to take any bets and when Jenson hit a beautiful forehand drop into the nick to take back the lead, a fifth game looked very likely. Mudge hit the tin to give his opponents a lead at 13-11 but then Jenson’s skill deserted him into another error. This was cancelled out by a tin from the other side to give Jenson & Arnold game ball. 14-12. But two great drop shots brought the score to 14-14 (Oh! the drama!)
Readers, can you guess what happened next? Right Jenson blasted the ball into the tin from the back of the court. It was all over 15-14 and old man Mudge and his new partner Mathur were into the final.
RESULT: Mathur & Mudge beat Jenson & Arnold. 3/1: 15-9, 13-15, 15-7, 15-14. (76 minutes)
FERREIRA & BADAN REPEL QUALIFYERS BASSETT & REID
The English/ Swiss pairing of Michael Ferreira and Yvain Badan (third favourites in the betting) had scraped into the semis after a wearing 107 minute battle with Smith and Nanda in the quarters and now faced the American/ Canadian qualifyers, Graham Bassett and Freddie Reid who hit the court running to lead 3-1. There’s nothing flashy about either of these teams, so at times it is a matter of who makes the most errors. In the first game this unpopular title went to Bassett – five unforced errors. Nevertheless, they were all square up to 14-all when Reid was caught on the right wall next to a tight drive and marker had no option but to give Badan the stroke to end the 14-minute game 15-14.
The second game was a quick 10 minute affair with Bassett & Reid keeping control from 4-4 to lead 12-9 and then combined to hit three winners in a row to take the game 15-9.
The third game was even quicker, Ferreira & Badan racing to a 5-1 lead on some fine winners. It seemed that neither pair wanted to hang around too long (did they have a plane to catch?) and winners and errors moved the game forward, Ferreira & Badan reaping the benefits to lead 11-4 with the help of Bassett’s errors. They took the game 15-11 in just nine minutes.
The final game was well contested with Bassett & Reid giving away four unforced errors to cancel their early lead. So the battle commenced at 4-4 and almost point-for point until 10-10. Ferreira & Badan were always steady which helped put them into the lead and, at 14-12, Bassett’s ambition tried another winner but resulted in the sound of the tin, which at the point was the death knell.
RESULT: Ferreira & Badan beat Bassett & Reid 3/1: 15-14, 9-15, 15-11, 15-12. (52 minutes)