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British Open Seniors Grass Court Championships, 23-28 August


An increased entry of 270 players, before withdrawals due to Covid- 19 contact and other reasons, enjoyed a sunny week at Devonshire Park, Eastbourne from 23 to 28 August. The usual contingent of overseas players was sadly missing and we look forward to welcoming them back next year.

There were a few more players in the Women’s events, but the 30, 35, 75 and 80 events could not be run due to lack of support. Aldona Greenwood (45), Emma Bowen (55), Hazel Lindfield (60), Diana Smith (65) and Jane Ling (70) were all singles winners, while Emma, Hazel and Diana also triumphed in doubles. We were pleased to welcome them to the event along with others competing at Eastbourne for the first time.

A whole raft of regular contestants appeared in the Men’s events, ranging from the new 30 age group up to 80. Christopher Starkey was the first ever winner of the 30s title, winning all his matches in the round robin group which was reduced to four players after two withdrawals. The second-placed player, Tom Barton, combined with Tom Wride, the 40s singles winner, to take the 30/35 doubles title. Spectators heartily enjoyed the hard-hitting battle of the 35 singles final won by Stephen Weatherall over Peter Henshall.

The 45 singles went to the stylish Hafeez Hameed who beat Nigel Birkett in the final before also winning the doubles with Ian Gillespie while Graham Neale equalled this feat by enjoying success in the 55 singles and doubles. Ian Udal crowned a successful week by winning the 50 singles showing growing confidence through successive rounds, and Richard Jackson was the 60s winner.

Paul French, now in the 65s, returned to the Eastbourne fray with his usual efficient route to the singles title at the expense of Jasper Cooper; Niall Sweeney beat Boyd Brackstone to lift the 70s trophy, but Boyd had the satisfaction of winning the doubles with Wilf Jessop. Chris Ornstien overcame Alex Templer in the 75 singles and with Hiralal Soma also won the doubles. In the last event, by no means least, Henk Nijeboer found a way again to beat Roger Taylor in the final.

An initiative this time was to stage all but two of the doubles finals on the Friday, a move facilitated by the continuing fine weather, and showcasing the singles final on the Saturday. All the players were most appreciative of the fourteen grass courts, which were in prime condition thanks to Danny Negus and his team.

Valerie Willoughby

Tournament Director