Braaiketts win thrilling tie against never-say-die Hillcrest

2009-11-05 00:00

IN one of the most exciting team tennis match-ups seen at Kershaw Park in a while, Maritzburg’s Braaiketts men’s side shaded the tie 3-2 against a never-say-die Hillcrest to go through to this Sunday’s KZN Shield final away to Westville.

The KZN Shield is the most prestigious, even in provincial club tennis, and Braaiketts, title winners recently, are on course for another crown, this after the local game floundered for some time. Harking back to the memorable days of Graham Ford, Dale Michau, Liz Gordon and company in the 1980s, in what was the team called “City”, Braaiketts are worthy successors as PMB’s top tennis club.

Outstanding youngster Stefan Fortmann (Hillcrest) and the KZN provincial player Gareth Greenwood met in the number one singles. With the match played at a furious pace, Greenwood was quickly out of the blocks and pressured Fortmann into errors with powerful serving and aggressive groundstrokes to wrap up the first set 6-3 and race to a 4-1 lead in the second.

Fortmann was not giving in and drew level 4-4 with a wonderful patch of controlled tennis. Fortmann won the ensuing tiebreaker and forced the match into a final set, fortunes fluctuating throughout before the Wartburg-reared youngster eventually prevailed to win 3-6 7-6 6-4.

The second singles match saw Hillcrest’s Tom Macquet 4-1 up before Braaiketts’ Paul Anderson sustained an ankle injury and was eventually forced to retire.

The third singles saw young Bryan Boshoff of Braaiketts in superb form to beat Hillcrest’s veteran captain Kevin Broughton 6-2 6-2.

At 2-1 going into the doubles, Hillcrest were favourites, considering Anderson’s injury.

Hillcrest’s Broughton and Derek Brown met Chris Folker and Reenen de Vries in the number two doubles, a cliffhanger that could have gone either way, Braaiketts taking the first set 6-3 and Hillcrest the second 6-4. At-3-0 in the third, and Hillcrest holding two break points, the match turned, Folker serving brilliantly to save the game and shift the momentum. That shift inspired a memorable victory for Folker/De Vries, forcing the tie into the final match.

It was the Anderson/Greenwood combination versus Hillcrest’s Fortmann and Macquet. Despite Anderson’s gammy ankle, the first set saw Braaiketts 7-5 victors, the Hillcrest pair rebounding superbly at 6-2 to level the tie-deciding match 1-1. With the final set deciding the fate of this memorable last-four encounter, the tension was cranked up yet another notch.

Anderson won his opening service game for 1-0, the Braaiketts couple grabbing a vital break off Macquet’s serve for 2-0. Hillcrest hit back, taking Greenwood’s serve before Fortmann held service to level 2-2. This was brilliant club tennis. Anderson’s ankle was now a lot stronger and he served immaculately for Braaiketts’s 3-2 lead. The vital break came for the hosts when they took Macquet’s service to lead 4-2. The next was the game of the match. Hillcrest had break points, but Anderson/Greenwood clawed back to deuce. Hillcrest then did Braaiketts’s same number in saving game points. Finally, with advantage Braaiketts, Greenwood produced an ace out wide to give Braaiketts 5-2 and the pair clinched an extraordinary tie and match next game.

Sunday’s final countdown for Braaiketts is Westville, who beat Kloof in the other semi.

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