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The Rhinos are back

Updated 14.09.2021: The Reigate Rhinos excel in their first season in the premier league, getting through to the last four in a thrilling National Finals at the West Hants Club in Bournemouth

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After a tumultuous year and the cancellation of the 2020 competitive schedule due to coronavirus, the GEW-sponsored Reigate Rhinos are delighted to be back and are raring to go for the 2021 season.

The Rhinos enjoyed great success in 2019, being crowned champions of their group and securing promotion to the National Division. To add to this, team member Andrew Watson was awarded Full County Colours in recognition of his long service to the county, having played for Surrey every year since the age of nine.

The Rhinos’ first match is at home to the Roehampton Club Men’s 1st team on Sunday 11th April and will see Samm Butler, Adam Skalsky, James Smith and Jack Wilson-Smith in action.

Team captain James Smith comments: “The Rhinos are back to finish off what started at the bottom of the county divisions seven years ago. After successive promotions for six years and with the support of GEW, they now have the chance after the COVID break to become Britain’s top club team by capturing the Tennis Premier League of the LTA’s National Club League.

“We have seven matches in the National League against teams such as Queen’s and Roehampton, followed by the season finale in Bournemouth later in the year. Viva le Rhinos!”

The full team for the 2021 season are: Luke Johnson, Samm Butler, Andrew Watson, Julian Cash, Jack Findle-Hawkins, David Fox, Adam Skalsky, Michael Geerts, Joe Tyler, Lasse Muscheites, Raffaello Papajcik and James Smith (Captain).

We wish them every success. Go Rhinos!

…..UPDATE 12.04.2021…..
The Rhinos’ season began with one of their toughest challenges, against Roehampton, who are reigning champions of the National League. Despite having several team members unavailable due to overseas tournaments, the Rhinos put up a valiant fight in the wintry conditions. The results were:

Samm Butler beat Nikolai Snapes, 7-5 6-0
Adam Skalsky lost to Adam Thorton-Brown, 3-6 2-6
James Smith lost to Oli Golding, 6-7 6-4 2-6
Jack Wilson-Smith lost to Richard Bloomfield, 0-6 0-6

Samm Butler & Adam Skalsky beat Adam Thorton-Brown & Chris Archer, 6-4 7-5
James Smith & Jack Wilson-Smith lost to Oli Golding & Richard Bloomfield, 3-6 5-7

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The victorious Rhinos team on Sunday 18th April: Left to right – Samm Butler, Lasse Muscheites, James Smith (Captain, did not play), Julian Cash and Jack Findel-Hawkins.

…..UPDATE 21.04.2021…..
The Rhinos’ second match against DL Raynes Park 1 on Sunday 18th April was a real ‘edge-of-the-seat’ encounter, with the Rhinos ultimately emerging as the winners:

Jack Findel-Hawkins beat Richard Gabb, 6-3 6-4
Julian Cash beat Harry Meehan, 6-4 6-1
Lasse Muscheites lost to Jamie Baker, 3-6 2-6
Samm Butler lost to Damian Rodriguez, 6-7 3-6

Jack Findel-Hawkins & Lasse Muscheites beat Richard Gabb & Harry Meehan, 6-4 7-6
Julian Cash & Samm Butler beat Jamie Baker & Damian Rodriguez, 6-3 7-5

…..UPDATE 28.04.2021…..
The Reigate Rhinos win again! The match against Thorpe Bay LTC 1 on Sunday 25th April ended in an impressive 10-2 win for the team:

Luke Johnson lost to Ryan Peniston, 6-7 4-6
Jack Findel-Hawkins beat Rob Carter, 6-2 6-3
Julian Cash beat Marshall Tutu, 6-2 6-1
Lasse Muscheites beat David Wright, 6-0 6-1

Luke Johnson & Julian Cash beat Ryan Peniston & David Wright, 7-6 6-2
Jack Findel-Hawkins & Lasse Muscheites beat Rob Carter and Marshall Tutu, 6-0 6-1

…..UPDATE 11.05.2021…..
Three-time Champions Sutton Tennis and Squash pushed back against the Rhinos for an 8-4 victory, leaving the Rhinos needing two wins from their last three matches to guarantee making the year end finals in Bournemouth.

Three of the matches ended up in long three set battles, with Sutton coming off the better in two out of the three to clinch the tie. The match was also marked by an outing for former world No. 4 doubles player Wayne Black, who turned back the years to outlast Reigate’s Samm Butler in Singles Match No. 4, 7-6 2-6 7-5.

A strong finish is now needed…

Viva le Rhinos! 

…..UPDATE 26.05.2021…..
After two wins each, the Rhinos and Queen’s Club found themselves level pegging after the four singles. Two fiercely contested doubles still couldn’t split the teams, with honours even at three matches each. With the match tied at 3-3, a tiebreak shoot out was played to decide the winners. (First two singles tiebreaks… then if there is still a tie, one doubles tiebreak to decide the whole match…). On this occasion the doubles was not needed with the Queens number 1 and 3 players playing the clutch points best and coming out 10-7 winners in both.

This result leaves the Rhinos with work to do, needing a win from the last two matches vs Cumberland and Gidea Park to qualify for the season end finals. But the spirited performances when winning or losing have given them the advantage should the national league come down to rubber count.

Andrew Watson lost to Oscar Podlewski, 6-3 5-7 0-6
Jack Findel-Hawkins beat Ludovic Walter, 6-3 6-4
Adam Skalsky lost to Jathan Malik, 1-6 6-7
James Smith beat Tom Colautti, 6-2 6-4

James Smith & Andrew Watson beat Oscar Podlewski & Tom Colautti, 6-4 6-4
Adam Skalsky & Jack Findel-Hawkins lost to Ludovic Walter & Jathan Malik, 3-6 3-6

Come on Rhinos, big last push!

The victorious Rhinos team on Sunday 6th June: Left to right – James Smith (Captain), Jack Findel-Hawkins, Andrew Watson and Samm Butler.

…..UPDATE 07.06.2021…..
After some fabulous tennis and several edge-of-the-seat encounters, the Rhinos emerged victorious against Cumberland 1 on 6th June. This result sees the Rhinos through to the play-off round. It is now all to play for, as the winners will qualify for the season end finals in Bournemouth.

Andrew Watson lost to Mattis Wetzel, 2-6 0-6
Jack Findel-Hawkins beat John Thompson, 6-3 6-1
Samm Butler beat Timothy Matthewson, 6-3 6-4
James Smith beat David O’Hare, 7-6 7-6

Andrew Watson & Jack-Findel Hawkins beat Mattis Wetzel & Richard Wire, 6-2 6-4
Samm Butler & James Smith beat Timothy Matthewson & David O’Hare, 5-7 6-1 1-0

Come on Rhinos, nearly there!

…..UPDATE 16.06.2021…..
After some excellent tennis on Sunday 13th June, the scoreline of the Rhinos vs Gidea Park match was all level at 6-6. A tense shootout session then settled the match in favour of the Rhinos, who won both of the Singles shootouts. The positive result is further encouragement for the Rhinos in their build-up to the play-off round in July.

Andrew Watson lost to Joel Cannell, 6-3 6-7 4-6
Jack Findel-Hawkins beat Alex Groves, 6-4 7-6
Samm Butler beat Anthony Weingarten, 6-3 6-2
Andrew Sharp lost to Thomas Higgins, 1-6 0-6

Andrew Watson & Andrew Sharp lost to Joel Cannell & Thomas Higgins, 3-6 2-6
Jack-Findel Hawkins & Samm Butler beat Alex Groves & James Caddies, 6-4 6-3

…..UPDATE 20.07.2021…..
Rhinos through to finals in September: The Rhinos had a fantastic play-off match on Saturday 17th July, beating Cardiff LTC 1 by a scoreline of 10-2. This result sees the Rhinos through to the finals at the West Hants Club in Bournemouth, on 10th-12th September 2021. The full results were:

Luke Johnson beat Danny Flynn, 6-2 6-3
Andrew Watson beat Callum Findlay, 7-5 6-4
Jack-Findel Hawkins lost to Tiarnan Brady, 4-6 5-7
Samm Butler beat Hugo Cochlin, 6-3 6-0

Luke Johnson & Jack-Findel Hawkins beat Tiarnan Brady & Callum Findlay, 6-0 1-0 (conceded by Cardiff LTC 1)
Andrew Watson & Samm Butler beat Danny Flynn & Daniel Sidaway, 3-2 (conceded by Cardiff LTC 1)

We now look forward to the September finals and wish the Rhinos every success!

…..UPDATE 14.09.2021…..
Rhinos excel in their first season in the premier league: The Rhinos exceed expectations even with the odds stacked against them. After beating Wrexham in the last 8 of the National Finals by 4 Rubbers to 2, the Rhinos took on four-time winners Sutton Tennis and Squash in the last 4. The match swung backwards and forwards with the 1 v 1 singles match being the pivotal match. Rhinos No. 1 Luke Johnson saved two match points in the second set at 4-6 3-5 against Jonathon Gray and turned the match on its head, leading and bossing the whole third set from start to finish only to be beaten by a series of fortunate net cords which dropped impossibly close to the net to chase down. Luke eventually went down 6-4 5-7 7-5.

At 1-3 the Rhinos needed to win both doubles to get to the shoot out, but eventually split the matches one each. With Watson and Smith going down to Smethurst and the fresh legs of Storrie, who had been rested in the singles.

The achievement of getting to the last 4 and losing to the eventual champions was all the more impressive considering 7 of the top 10 Rhinos players were away playing international events which left the team of 4 playing in every rubber for the whole weekend against the 11 man squad of Sutton. What a win it would have been…

‘Til next year…

The full draw for the Finals can be viewed here.

You can read more about the Rhinos as they embark on their 2022 season, here.

Alternatively, read more about their 2019 promotion here.