Avory Cup 2009

August 6 - 7, 2009
London, England
Stoke Park Club

The seventh playing of the Ted Avory Cup match between the International Clubs of the United States and Great Britain took place at the Stoke Park Club in Stoke Poges, England. The matches were hosted by the club in conjunction with the IC of Great Britain. The club was located in a small town just northwest of Heathrow Airport and was the first golf country club in the London area. It has an 18 hole Harry Colt championship golf course and 13 tennis courts of which 3 are indoor, 5 are grass and 5 are all- weather. The club is an old mansion and had 48 rooms on location including a fabulous spa and workout area plus two first class restaurants. It was only a short distance to Windsor Castle, the most famous castle in London, and many of the players were able to visit this historic castle. We learned that two James Bond movies were filmed at Stoke Park: Goldfinger and Tomorrow Never Dies. The 2004 Movie, Wimbledon, was also filmed at Stoke.

The weather was mostly good but heavy rains the night before the first match caused the matches to be moved to the all- weather courts and indoors. We were able to get one hour of doubles on the grass at the end of the first day. In spite of occasional rain both days, we were able to get all of the matches played.

The British IC won the match 37-19 with a team that was judged by US Captain, David Nash , to be their strongest team ever from top to bottom.

The US team consisted of the following players:

Open Men: Fanda Stejskal, Jeremy Feldman and Ryan Thacher

Open Women: Hannah Holladay and Courtney Byron

35 Men: Marc Howard and Garth Thomson

40/45 Women: Mariana Hollman and Vesna McKenna

50 Women: Abbi Neuthaler, Margaret Lumia and Sissy Jeffett

55 Men: Tom Smith, Jeff Sawyer and Skip Walther

60 Men: Chas Hoeveler and Armie Neely

60/65 Women: France Dickenson and Heidi Attlfellner

65 Men: Bill Blodgett and David Dickenson

70 Men: Jim Wilson

The team Captains were David Nash and Frances Dickenson as well as recruiting assistance from Diane Fishburne.

The match followed the same organizational structure that has been used the past two times with singles and doubles on Day one followed by reverse singles and mixed or regular doubles for the last match. The mixed matches were some of the most closely contested and gave the large number of spectators some wonderful and interesting tennis. The quality of the play was exceptional considering many players were required to play on multiple surfaces. Some played on grass, indoors and all weather in the same day. Seventeen of the 56 matches were decided in third set super tiebreakers and many of those went down to the wire.

On the first day the British team jumped out to an early lead and never looked back finishing with a 20 -10 lead. Two of our open men, Fanda and Ryan were victorious and Jeremy Feldman lost and a 10-8 tiebreaker. Chas Hoeveler won both matches and Vesna won an incredible 14-12 tiebreak saving two match points. Mariana lost a grueling match to World Champion, Christine French. Tom Smith also won two matches and Abbi won an impressive singles match. Last minute fill in Jeff Sawyer also won a singles match. Courtney Byron our top open woman beat Ali Napier in singles which was our first win ever over her.

On the second day a key win for the US was Marc Howard defeating Nick Adams, another person we have never beaten. Courtney and Fanda won both singles and Armie Neely defeated former World Number 10 and Wimbledon semifinalist, Mark Cox. Three of our mixed teams won matches and Mariana played a great singles match to even up her singles record. The most interesting match of the day pitted Ryan against Lee Childs who recently came off the tour and gave Roger Federer fits in a practice match prior to Wimbledon. Ryan played magnificently and finally succumbed in the third set tiebreak. The fans were treated to some incredible tennis from these two players. The final margin of victory was 37-19 and the British team deserved the win as they were the better team or side as they say in London. Our team played well and exhibited fine sportsmanship in keeping with the traditions of IC play.

There were wonderful social events with an opening cocktail party and dinner at the Club. Lunches were provided each day for the players and the club served a robust breakfast for the players each day. It was not uncommon to see players from both sides enjoying refreshments in the Italian Deli each day. On Thursday night the Club hosted a barbeque on the patio and although it was a bit wet the chefs were able to deliver a first class meal with hamburgers and an assortment of seafood skewers plus all the trimmings. Needless to say the wine and beers were top quality and desserts to die for.

The final night was a semi formal dinner at the club. Team and guest photos were taken on the steps outside the West entrance and much fun was has getting the some 75 people gathered and organized. Photos will be placed on the website. The dinner was extraordinary topped off with a dessert plate for each diner consisting of a sampling of English puddings. There were several speeches by the Captains and David Waite welcomed all attendees and announced that the 2013 matches will most likely be held in July at the All England Club the site of the first Avory Cup match in 1997 match. A cheer erupted from all present.

Captain David Nash presented the trophy to Mark George and there was conversation as to the origin of the cup. Nick Adams said that it came from the All England Club and that he would research it to see if we can determine it's history. Toasts were offered all around to the winners. David Nash then announced that Ali Napier and Mike Dawe were to be nominated as honorary members of the USIC. In turn the British nominated Chas Hoeveler and Armi Neely to be members of their IC. Gifts were exchanged between the Captains and thanks for a wonderful event were offered to Mark and David Waite.

Thanks to several of our players who made contributions to help offset our costs and to Chas Hoeveler for arranging for hats for all the players. In addition John Powless who was scheduled to play but bowed out for injury arranged to have great pullovers with appropriate IC embroidering for all the US players. One was also presented to Mark George We would also like to thank our spouses and other guests for their support and attendance at the matches and the social events.

We look forward to the matches in the US in 2011 which most likely will be on clay for the first time.

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