Surbiton started off the day with a significant setback as Stephen Mulliner was delayed in returning from holiday and was only able to get back via Heathrow to the club at lunchtime. Thus, Surbiton forfeited the doubles leg and fielded a substitute (Mike Lambert) to give the Ashby pair a work out on the courts (which, as a matter of historical note, Ashby won in two games). Ashby started well in both the morning singles legs but Chris Farthing came back strongly after being down in the early part of the first game against Mike O'Brian. Mike battled valiantly through the leg with some fine jump shots, winning the second game but Chris prevailed in the third. Derek Buxton meanwhile showed great determination in beating David Mooney twice on hoop 13. Lunchtime score: Ashby 2-1.
Stephen redeemed himself by making fairly comfortable work of Tim King in the afternoon legs. Mike by this stage had already beaten David in two and then Chris shortly after evened up the match at 3-3. Thus, all eyes turned to Don and Ray. Ray had played well to take the first game but, although neither player seemed to openly acknowledge their sense of any pressure, everything began to tighten up in the second.
Ray lost some vital ground in the middle part of the game; to the frustration of his fellow team members and the travelling supporters. Don consolidated his position and although Ray drew back to 5-5, the former calmly took hoop 11 and then when he lost position on hoop 12, allowed Ray to run the hoop but ensured that he had no impediment to a clean first approach to hoop 13. Don put in this approach (Pink) to a very decent position, slightly to the East of the hoop and a couple of yards back. Ray then played from the vicinity of hoop 2 and put Brown closer to the hoop than Pink (although not blocking the shot). Don's White was straighter on the hoop than Pink and left Ray with a hampered view of the latter ball. Ray hit hard enough with Green to run through to the boundary but disturbed nothing on the way. Thus, Don had a clear and simple choice: the Brown was very much straight down the court from Pink. The clearance was on. However, the demon voice within had other ideas and (dear reader, you have guessed correctly, I am sure ...) Pink proceeded to peel Brown through hoop 13 and give the Ashby the match.
The underdogs had triumphed: fortress Surbiton had been breached! The lack of a competitive doubles leg was a real shame; the evidence suggests that the result would have been very close. The Surbiton hospitality and warmth of welcome was as wonderful as ever (delicious meat from the barbeque on this occasion). Of course, after the treatment that Parkstone received when Surbiton decided that they were determined to win a match between the two clubs, Ashby are busy preparing the hospitality for Reg when they next draw Surbiton in the tournament! Meanwhile, Ashby will play Blewbury in the final at a neutral venue on 29 September. These two clubs form the nucleus of the Leicestershire and Oxfordshire Inter-counties teams, respectively, and were closely matched earlier this month, so expect a tight final.
Surbiton names first:
Stephen Mulliner & Don Beck lost to Tim King & Ray Mounfield (walkover)
Chris Farthing beat Mike O'Brian (7-4, 5-7, 7-3)
David Mooney lost to Derek Buxton (6-7, 7-3, 6-7)
Mulliner beat King (7-6, 7-5)
Beck lost to Mounfield (4-7, 6-7)
Farthing beat Buxton (7-3, 7-3)
Mooney lost to O'Brian (4-7, 6-7)