THE annual championships at Darlington’s New Blackwell Lawn Tennis Club proved to be a smashing success with close-fought battles the order of the day.

The day’s first winner was Rory Gaydon, who edged out Tony Heljula in one of the highest quality Men’s Singles finals the club has ever seen.

Rory won the first set but Tony struck back in the second before the match went to a deciding champions’ tie-break. Rory took the title with his more powerful serve proving the difference – but what a match.

Katie Thompson was Ladies’ Singles champion after another close match with Jane Carter. Katie won the first set but Jane showed great tenacity to fight back in the second before Katie proved too strong in the tie-break.

A decider was also needed in the Men’s Doubles final with Dave Russell and Peter Holt taking the first set before being pegged back in the second by Tony Kendall and Seb Stevens. Dave and Peter won the tie-break 10-3 to become champions.

Amanda Smart and Caroline Hopkins triumphed in the Ladies’ Doubles but were made to fight all the way by Jill Easton and Sally Stone for a 7-6, 6-4 victory.

Yet another champions’ tie-break decider was needed in the mixed doubles before Jill Easton and Tony Kendall fought back gallantly to win 10-6 against Faye Fernandes and Mark Auton. Mark and Faye had won the first set 6-1 but Jill and Tony took the match to the wire by winning the second set in a tie-break.

The Men’s Plate was won by Keith Robinson, who outpointed Phil Thompson, in an excellent match, with lots of long rallies.

Club chairman Gill Reeves said: “The championships had to be cancelled in 2020 because of the pandemic, so it was fantastic to be back with a series of high-quality and nail-biting matches.

“We had the highest number of entries for years and it was lovely to see so many spectators turn out, despite the weather being unpredictable. Well done to everyone who took part and made it possible, including the volunteer umpires who did a great job.”