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PICTURES: Elgin, Rothes and Lossiemouth tennis youngsters impress in Highland League


By Hamish McBain

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Moray Sports Centre was the venue, on Saturday afternoon, for the culmination of the Galbraith Highlands Tennis 8s league.

The Lossiemouth team that finished third in the shield, from left: Aliona Main, Elliott Cardwell, Eddie Whitely, Aydan Tripp, and Emily MacNicol.
The Lossiemouth team that finished third in the shield, from left: Aliona Main, Elliott Cardwell, Eddie Whitely, Aydan Tripp, and Emily MacNicol.

Two events were held with four teams involved in the knockout for the league title, and six taking part in the fight for the District Plaque which was open to those who were not part of the semi-finals.

The top two from the Highland section and from Moray won through to compete for the league trophy. Bellfield Park (Inverness) were up against Rothes while Elgin, the winners of the Moray group, were drawn against Tain. Rothes lost out 14-2 while Elgin won through to the final through a points countback, after a thriller of a match concluded 8-8 (121 points to 103).

The Bellfield youngsters went on to win the trophy when they got the better of the Elgin quartet (12-4).

Runners-up in the 8s competition were Elgin, from left: Eliza Wilkie, James Sey, Rafe Dixon and Harry Lyon.
Runners-up in the 8s competition were Elgin, from left: Eliza Wilkie, James Sey, Rafe Dixon and Harry Lyon.

Tain were to be involved in another closely contested tie. The third-place play-off saw Rothes match them game for game in what was to be a real cliffhanger. It was nip-and-tuck until the score reached 8-7 to the Speyside quartet. The question was, could Rothes take the final tie-break to claim the bronze medal, or would the match have to go to a second countback of the afternoon?

Rosa Fraser was up for the challenge. But, although she held her own in the early stages, as the breaker came to neared a conclusion, things were not going her way, and she found herself down 9-7. Despite the pressure, she did not let her head go down. There was no way she was giving in, and the match points held by her opponent slipped away, the pair found themselves in a “sudden death”, winner takes all situation. The Rothes club member, who hails from Dufftown, stayed calm and duly won the 19th point to secure victory for her team.

The Rothes players who came third in the league play-offs and second in the shield competition, back row: Poppy Creane Smith, Grace Shortreed. Front: Lochlan Cowie, Roman Leslie, Felix Myers, Clara Muir, Sienna Cameron, Maisie Stuart, Theo Croasdale, Freya Hood and Rosa Fraser.
The Rothes players who came third in the league play-offs and second in the shield competition, back row: Poppy Creane Smith, Grace Shortreed. Front: Lochlan Cowie, Roman Leslie, Felix Myers, Clara Muir, Sienna Cameron, Maisie Stuart, Theo Croasdale, Freya Hood and Rosa Fraser.

The plaque competition was won by Rothiemurchus.

In the 14s league, court space at Rothes is at a premium and the allocation to the various teams, did not come down in favour of the young team.

Their matches are usually played on a Saturday, but Gordonstoun did not have students available. They came to an agreement to play on Monday evening by reversing the fixture, and playing at Gordonstoun. Rothes ran out 8-3 winners with one of the doubles not played.

Rothes and Elgin’s A teams met in the mixed Highlands League. Elgin had some changes to their line-up and the hosting Speysiders were to take full advantage of the situation in this battle between the undefeated league leaders and the bottom dogs. The match was full of twists and turns and was so closely contested that the result was in doubt right up to the final point.

The fixture made a bit of history as it is believed that, for the first time in the leagues’ history, all four rubbers required the full three sets to settle matters. Another fact was that, although Rothes were the ultimate winners, the visitors got off to a flying start by taking the first set in each contest.

The order-of-play saw the Rothes first seeds (Michelle Fraser and Bradley Scott) take on the Elgin second pair (Jenny Milne and Richard Wormald). This was a very closely-contested affair. Having gone down 5-7 in the first set, the homesters fought back to level matters (6-4).

Then came the match tie break. There was nothing between the contestants as the 14-12 score proves. This breaker win was to be very crucial because, had the Rothesians lost it, the team might have drawn instead of gaining this unexpected victory.

The heroics were not to continue however as the pair were to lose their way in the 1v1 battle against Sally Walker and Lewis Simpson. Having rallied from 4-6 in the first set, to take the second 6-4, heads, unaccountably, dropped as they succumbed to a resounding 10-3 loss. So, the hosts’ first seeds record for the evening was three sets won and three lost.

Second pair (Maureen Turner and Fraser Scott) were to fare a bit better than their team-mates, winning both of their encounters. They avenged the 10-3 breaker loss by beating Milne and Wormald 10-6 in the deciding set before going on to win their second outing, coincidentally by the same 10-6 margin.

Despite the loss, Elgin remain firm favourites to retain the division trophy.

The Duff Avenue Club also leads the way in the promotion race from Division 2. Two points ahead of Forres B with two fixtures remaining it is going to be an intriguing run-in. Elgin B trounced the relegation-doomed Elgin C 8-0 to keep the team ahead of the Forresians who defeated R&A B 7-4.

In the men’s leagues, Elgin A won the Duff Avenue bragging rights in a derby match.

Douglas Tait teamed up with Kieran Dickinson for a successful evening of tennis. Their first opponents, Stuart Thomson and James Gresswell, put up a valiant struggle especially in the second set, where they just failed to force a tie break (the final score was 2-6, 5-7). Ewen Fraser and Ed Borrowman were unable to match the fight of their number ones, going down 1-6, 1-6.

Father-and-son partnership, John and William Walker took both opposition pairs to three sets, defeating Fraser and Borrowman 2-6, 6-3, 10-6, but losing to Thomson and Gresswell 2-6, 6-3, 9-11.

Also in Division 1, Rothes whitewashed Grantown, winning all eight sets, losing only nine games in the process. The team consisted of Bradley and Fraser Scott and Mark Hearns and Jack McConnachie.

Forres maintained their slim promotion hopes with a 7-3 win at Kingussie. Joe Hargreaves and Andy Williams set a high bar for their team-mates Gavin Ross and Lloyd Eastwood to aim for when they won both their rubbers 6-0, 6-3 and 6-0, 6-2. Ross and Eastwood were taken to three sets in both outings, winning one 4-6, 6-1, 11-9.

For Rothes A it is all about staying in division 2, and they did their cause no end of good with an 8-0 whitewash of an understrength Grantown side.


Elgin A maintain their winning run in the women’s league, defeating Elgin B 8-0. The team now need only turn up, in their remaining two fixtures, to retain the title. On 23 points, the least total they can get is 25. Their closest rivals, Rothiemurchus, have to win the two matches they have left, but would still not match the Elgin women’s tally.

In Division 2, Rothes A just lost out (3-4) in their visit to the Inverness Tennis and Squash Club. The match was curtailed as the time limit was reached, because of the lengthy 1v1 rubber where Laura Allan and Jane Sim took their opponents to a third set tiebreak which they, unfortunately, lost 8-10.

A little ‘rub of the green’ for the visitors would have given the Speysiders the three points. The pair lost the second rubber first set, but time was called preventing them from going one better and adding to their team’s total. Second pair, Johanne Dunn and 11-year-old Calleigh McConnell won against the home second string (6-4, 7-6) and like their compatriots, found themselves down in their second contest.

Aberlour are still in the hunt for promotion from Division 4. In their latest match, they had to be content to share the points with R&A C.

In footballing terms this encounter could be described as a ‘game of two halves’. Marjory Stronach and Anne Edward set things off by winning 6-0, 6-3 and 6-1, 6-1. Second pair Kerry Stewart and Anne Findlay were not so fortunate, but they did come ever so close to winning a set. Had they managed to do so the three points would have gone to Aberlour


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