by Bill Marshall ILKLEY Lawn Tennis & Squash Club’s newly-refurbished indoor courts went some way towards repaying their £700,000 cost last week.

Quite simply, without them the JM Glendinning Group Ilkley Open international tournament wouldn’t have been finished.

“It was probably the worst tournament-week weather since I have been here, and this was my fourth,” said Ilkley Lawn Tennis & Squash Club’s general manager Caroline Buncall.

“Apart from the first weekend, we only used the grass courts for about three hours for the AEGON international players, although we got a bit more play on them in the lesser events.

“The only event we had to cancel was the Wharfedale Doubles. We got through in all the other events, although we had to play some shortened formats. We finished the under-eights, nines and tens on the first weekend.”

The indoor courts, which are bathed in more natural light and are a fetching shade of Australian Open blue, were only opened on July 20.

They were also used for County Week immediately prior to the tournament, and Buncall said: “The players last week noticed a marked improvement from last year. And if Frinton and Felixstowe (other post-Wimbledon grass court tournaments) had had the weather we had, they wouldn’t have been able to finish their tournaments as they have no indoor courts. We have 14 grass courts, six outdoor hard courts and five indoor courts.”

Nevertheless, there still seems to be a permanent cloud over the future of post-Wimbledon grass-court tournaments in Great Britain.

The Lawn Tennis Association scrapped the summer grass-court series of tournaments several years ago on the grounds that grass was too much of a specialised surface and was too easily affected by the weather.

However, despite that the tournaments have survived on the International Tennis Federation calendar, and so they should as one of their grand slam tournaments is still played on grass and it is not possible to cram all the existing long-standing tournaments into the three-week period before Wimbledon.

Home-town hero Kyle Brassington defeated fellow British wild card George Coupland in the first round of the $15,000 Futures tournament before bowing out to second-seeded Italian Riccardo Ghedin, who in turn was beaten by eventual runner-up Neil Pauffley.

Top seed Martin Fischer (Austria), whose world ranking was 199 going into the tournament, beat Pauffley 6-2, 6-4 in the final, while the doubles crown went to 2008 Wimbledon sensation Chris Eaton and Fischer.

The British Tour singles titles went to Adam Short, Bingley’s Gavin Davison reaching the semi-finals, and Samantha Murray, who thus retained her crown.

Davison’s Ilkley clubmates Saad Abbas and Alex Johnston lost in the first round, while home club players Steven Hunt, Hassan Abbas, James Ickringill and Mihailis Kouvatsos were among those who failed to make it out of qualifying.

Hunt and Ickringill were beaten in the semi-finals of the Wharfedale Singles, where Kouvatsos and Nicholas Jenkins were defeated in the quarter-finals.

However, Ilkley members found much more success in other scratch events and, more particularly, the handicap events.

Anita Perry, drafted in as assistant referee at short notice due to illness, won the women’s over-40 doubles with Caroline Clay and the women’s handicap doubles with Donna Brosnan, losing in the mixed doubles handicap final with Daniel Meltzer to Brosnan and Alan Cutts. Jenkins lifted the men’s handicap singles.

The Het Spieghel trophies for the most promising performances by U-14 Ilkley members went to Thomas Knapton, runner-up in the boys’ U-12 singles and winner of the boys’ U-12 doubles, and Zoe Judkowski, quarter-finalist in the girls’ U-12 singles.