The GEW-sponsored Reigate Rhinos embark on their first season in the National League. Follow the team’s progress through our regular updates…
vs Cumberland 1, 03.04.2022
The Rhinos started their 2022 National League season on April 3rd, with a thrilling win against Cumberland 1. They won two of the four singles matches and both doubles matches, charging to victory on their home court.
With both teams trading blows over the first five matches, the Rhinos were 3-2 ahead going into the final doubles match; acting as the decider, it did not disappoint. Andrew Watson and Julian Cash from the Rhinos were facing off against Ben Jones and Nattis Wetzel from Cumberland, and the start of the match did not go as planned. They lost the first set 4-6, before being broken early in the second set. The Rhinos pair managed to claw their way back to 6-6 and comfortably won the tie break to take the match into a first-to-10 tie-break for the final set.
Again, the Rhinos got off to a poor start going 0-3 down, but slowly clawed their way back, going 5-4, 7-5 and 9-6. Unfortunately, even with three match points in their favour, they were unable to clinch victory as Cumberland stormed ahead 9-10. The tension rose with both teams trading blows, with the score rising to 10-11 then 11-12, before the Rhinos finally took control of the match, winning three points in a row to win 14-12 and take the match.
vs Risbygate, 10.04.2022
Their second opponents for the season were Risbygate TC, whose slow court presented numerous challenges for the Rhinos players. Risbygate won the first three singles matches; two of them in two sets and the third in three. Risbygate’s fourth solo then retired to hand the Rhinos a lifeline, but Andrew Watson and James Smith were unable to clinch their doubles match, losing the third set in a race to 10 and handing Risbygate the victory. The Rhinos took the second doubles match comfortably, winning their sets 6-1 and 6-3, to offer some consolation on the long drive home.
vs A1 Pharmaceuticals, 24.04.2022
Match report by Richard Skalsky, Reigate Rhinos:
On Sunday April 24th, the Rhinos went down to Maidstone, Kent to play A1 Pharmaceuticals.
An unusual setting, with four all weather tarmacadam tennis courts squeezed between the M20 and Public Heath ground and no clubhouse.
Whilst it was a sunny day, conditions were difficult with strong winds consistently blowing and courts that were extremely slow.
A1 fielded their strongest team to date including Marcus Willis who played Roger Federer in the 2nd round at Wimbledon, a few years ago.
In Singles Match 1, Julian had complete control of his match and was able to win 6-1, 6-3.
In Singles Match 2, Andy was outplayed in the first set but offered great resistance in the second set before losing 3-6, 5-7.
In Singles Match 3, Isaac was completely outplayed by Marcus Willis whose ability to put balls in places that his opponents don’t want, losing 2-6, 2-6.
In Singles Match 4, Kyle had a great tussle in his match, whilst mainly being in control, did let the 2nd set slip but eventually won 6-3 4-6 6-3.
In Doubles Match 1, Julian & Andy had a tight first set having to win it in the set tie-break but then easily rattled off the 2nd set winning 7-6 6-1.
In Doubles Match 2, Isaac & Kyle were against an experienced doubles pairing who were just too good, losing 2-6 2-6.
With the match all square at 6-6, the lottery of the shootout to determine the match result came into play.
Julian won his Singles shootout 10-7 whilst Kyle lost his 6-10.
This left the Doubles shootout to be played and determine the overall match result.
Unfortunately for the Rhinos, Andy and Isaac lost it 6-10.
So another disappointing result for the Rhinos making their next match against Sutton TSC even more crucial.
vs Sutton Tennis & Squash Club, 08.05.2022
The Rhinos lost their third round of matches on home court to Sutton Tennis and Squash Club. With a spate of injuries and illnesses, the home club struggled against Sutton who secured both points with a 12-0 rubber victory.
Andrew Watson put up a valiant fight in his opener, losing a tie break in the third set to Sutton’s Alexander Jhun. Sutton then won the remaining three singles matches comfortably, in two sets each.
The first doubles match saw another Sutton victory in two sets, before Andrew Watson and Isaac Stone took their doubles match to a third set. Despite fighting bravely, they lost the tie break to give Sutton the victory.
vs Thorpe Bay, 15.05.2022
Reigate Rhinos, still suffering from injuries and illness, suffered another loss, this time away at Thorpe Bay. The opening singles match saw a tight loss for Andrew Watson, then Samm Butler’s loss in the second game gave the Rhinos a mountain to climb. The third singles game saw James Smith winning 6-2, 7-5 to give the Rhinos a chance of making a comeback. Unfortunately Richard Skalsky was unable to capitalise on this momentum, also losing his singles match.
This meant the Rhinos knew they had to win both doubles matches to take the day to a tie break, but both matches were won by Thorpe Bay, at 6-1, 6-3, then 6-0, 6-0.
vs David Lloyd Raynes Park, 22.05.2022
The Rhinos went into their sixth game of the season with determination. Unfortunately, they suffered another defeat, this time to David Lloyd Raynes Park. The first two singles matches were tight, with Andrew Watson going down 4-6, 2-6, before Isaac Stone got broken once in each set to lose his singles match 3-6, 4-6. For the second week in a row, James Smith won the Rhinos only match with a comfortable solo victory, beating Raynes Park’s Matthew Beecher 6-2, 6-0. Unfortunately, the solo matches were concluded with a further Raynes Park win, as Jack Hicklin lost 2-6, 0-6.
The doubles matches were tighter affairs, with Andrew Watson and James Smith being broken once in each set to lose 3-6, 4-6, before Isaac Stone and Jack Hicklin lost 1-6, 6-7 to close out the day. Raynes Park got the two points they needed to push them to second in the table.
vs Roehampton Club, 29.05.2022
The Rhinos travelled to Roehampton for their last match against a team who had yet to lose any matches and were top of the Division. Once again many players were unavailable for the Rhinos – this has been a recurring theme throughout the season and represents a key reason why they have struggled in the National League this year.
The singles matches were surprisingly competitive, although the scores didn’t reflect this with the Rhinos losing 3 out of their 4 matches. In the end, despite putting up a good fight, Roehampton were that much stronger. The star on the day for the Rhinos was Kyle Rae who shone with a hard fought win, showing great grit and endurance to beat his Roehampton opponent Jonathan Binding.
Arthur Fery beat Andy Watson 6-1 6-0
Matthew Short beat Isaac Stoute 6-2 6-1
Jonathan Binding lost to Kyle Rae 3-6 4-6
Nikolai Snapes beat Jack Hicklin 6-1 6-1
In the Doubles, the matches were a lot more competitive with the Rhinos taking the lead in both matches with early breaks, but they were unable to take advantage of their leads and eventually lost both matches:
Arthur & Matthew beat Andy & Isaac 6-3 6-2
Jonathan & Nikolai beat Kyle & Jack 6-4 6-3
This gave Roehampton a convincing 10-2 result over the Rhinos and left them top of the table after the last game.
This ended a disappointing season for the Rhinos which will see them relegated to the Regional Division. They will now look to regroup and try to gain promotion back to the National Division in 2023.