This year’s entry for the Men’s Closed Singles event is very strong with no fewer than seven previous winners boasting 26 wins between them dating back to 1975 when David Moss was champion – he is once again playing and seeded some 48 years since he first won it!
It’s the 10th anniversary of the Holmwood House School hosting the tournament this coming weekend (March 4-5), which is fitting as it’s potentially the best in that time including the new, exciting 19-39 event for all league players in that age group. We welcome Chelmsford and Essex Tournament organiser David Gatheral for the first time whose expertise is appreciated in the absence of previous organiser John Andrews.
Last year’s beaten finalist James Denyer from St James heads the field with his powerful range of shots including the self-styled ‘pocket shot’ from the back of the court. He points out that “It’s hard to pick a winner because they’re all arguably the same level of standard on the day”.
Eren Gozcu of Tollgate, the winner two years ago, is the second seed and is running into a rich vein of form and is joined by joint no 3 seeds Richard Hutchinson of Gt Horkesley and Tollgate’s Toby McLewin.
Hutchinson remains the only player to have won the Junior Singles and Men’s Singles events in the same year back in 1986 and was unbeaten in the League up until two weeks ago. He also boasts the record length of time between crowns, winning again in 2018 some 32 years after his first win!
Seventeen-year-old Toby McLewin (pictured above) has had a breakthrough season representing Essex at County Premier League rising to the top 50 at under-18 level and along with Britannia club-mate Alex Attew of Gt Horkesley, the reigning Junior Champion could post a major threat to the more senior players.
These also come in the form of nine times champion Rik James of Rowhedge, who recently won the Handicap event, Tollgate’s Greg Green, the 2009 champion, and Gt Horkesley’s flamboyant Andy Warner, the 2012 winner who along with Attew are the joint fifth seeds. Throw in another nine-time winner, legend David Cole from Rowhedge, Paul Hume of St James, the brother of last season’s champ Sam Hume, the aforementioned David Moss (Rowhedge) Tollgate’s Paul Davison & Adam Cuthbert of Rowhedge B and these are the seeds for the 13 groups of three.
Following the withdrawal of 22-time champion and League President Sue Welham it’s hard to see anyone stopping Rowhedge’s three times and current holder Gracie Edwards in the Women’s Singles. Amanda Hogger (Tollgate) Chloe Andrews (Rowhedge) and Helen Woolnough (Pegasus) realistically will do battle for the runner’s-up medal.
England no 38 Junior Alex Attew defends his under-19 title won so stylishly last year will face stern opposition in the form of Essex Schools Champion Toby McLewin who beat him recently in their Premier League encounter. Chelmsford youngster James Donald performing so well in the Premier Division and Tom Hinds turning heads in the First division both from Tollgate make up the projected semi-finalists.
The Junior Girls will be one of the youngest finals ever with the talented pair of Rowhedge youngsters Adhuna Das and Grace Liu taking on each other in a straight final in the absence of last year’s champion Ellianna Burridge who is away representing Essex in the County Cadet Premier League.
The brand new 19-39 event has finally arrived giving those top players previously unable to play on the Saturday an exciting, quality event. Eren Gozcu is favourite to be the inaugural champion but is chased by a strong field including Greg Green, Paul Hume, Gracie Edwards – long overdue a shot at the men – and Adam Cuthbert making up the seeds.
In the Vets Over-40 it’s a toss-up between Hutchinson, Warner, James, Cole and Moss in what promises to be the classiest of fields which should produce a spectacle on Finals Night.
Gt Horkesley’s Ken Lewis defends his Over-50s title against all the fearsome names from above plus multiple champion Ian Whiteside.
Super-Vet Charlie Fulcher one of the many Gt Horkesley squad players makes a welcome return to Colchester is the hot favourite for the most Senior event with Martyn Green unable to defend his title due to Essex commitments. Andy Holmes, Ken Lewis, John Andrews, Ian Whiteside, Steve Noble and Martin Edwards are the main senior-citizen protagonists!
Krzysztof Szemro is from Rowhedge is the stand-out Cadet in the under-15 event and partners Alex Attew in the Junior Doubles the pair so close to winning last season. The Chelmsford champions Toby McLewin and James Donald are likely to be their opponents in the final which once again promises to be an entertaining one.
The Men’s Doubles is potentially the most open of all events with at least four pairings capable of winning. Heading the seeds are two-time former winners Andy Warner and Richard Hutchinson with a new pairing of James Denyer and Greg Green seeded two, both of whom have won it twice before, Denyer with the Hume brothers Paul and Sam on the last two occasions it’s been held. Doubles specialist Paul Davison and Toby McLewin won the Chelmsford Doubles title last month and previous winners with different partners but teaming up for the first time Rik James and David Cole will take some stopping. Eren Gozcu joins Tollgate teammate Wudong Liu with Hume teaming up with Adam Cuthbert and Alex Attew with Pawel Szemro from Rowhedge.
The Ladies’ Doubles sees Gracie Edwards and Chloe Andrews take on Helen Woolnough and Elise Ando of Tollgate in all probability for the silverware.
In the Mixed Doubles it seems hard to see anything other than a very close final between former champions Gracie Edwards and Andy Warner versus the experienced mother-and-son pairing of Gill Locke and James Denyer who have six titles between both pairs!
For the Divisional Singles, Lawford’s Dan Farrow is seeded one in the First Division, as is Krzysztof Szemro in Division Two, Owen Little from Lawford the Third Division and finally the return of the Fourth Division title where young Sam Knights of Rowhedge is the top seed.
Doors open at 8am on the Saturday morning with the youngsters which includes the ‘Club’ 19-39 with Finals night at 6pm on the Sunday evening.
Spectators are welcome with a tasty array of cakes and hot and cold drinks available throughout the weekend!