We have another guest report from this weekend’s matches. Simon Constantine Brigands team captain reports on the peripatetic players trip to the West Midlands with a match at Leamington on Saturday followed by a Very enjoyable day’s tennis at Moreton on Sunday.
Nine of us made the bi-annual trip to the Midlands, which started with a fixture against Leamington comprising four doubles and one singles. Unusually almost the whole team was present for the first match along with some 30 Leamington members, which was a very generous level of support.
There was the small matter of England’s semi-final vs New Zealand; for some inexplicable reason this appeared to be more popular than the Mawson and Nicholls vs Dalton andHorrocks first rubber. Candida and Peter raced into a 5-2 lead before the locals woke up and won 10 of the next 11 games. Little more can be reported on this as the dedans was eerily quiet, save for regular screams of delight from the bar as England crushed the All Blacks. The Brigands were happy to sacrifice this first rubber for the sake of the country.
Second up were Wells Snr and Armstrong vs Dixon and Stokes. Dicko making his usual mad dashes round the back of the court seemed a little difficult if not tiresome for Derek and Simon who proceeded to drop the first five games. After a brief rally, well one game, the first set was lost and the second didn’t start much better. Adam hit a lobbed return into the tray of the dedans to win chase one yard to go 3-0 up in the second. Sometimes you get that feeling that it might not be your day. Understatement of the day from Derek at 5-1 down “it’s not looking great” proved to be pretty accurate one game later.
Next on court were Stafford vs Todd and some very high quality tennis ensued with the local owing 15 every game. Shots to a perfect length were commonplace and ends changed hands with a one in the chase often. Will notched up the first set 6-4 but Julian was not deterred opening up a 5-3 lead in the second before Will put his game face on again and squeezed through 6-5 to take the rubber.
Those of you with a particular gift in maths will have spotted by now that Leamington, at 3-0 up had won the overall match, which enabled Wells Snr to decant two bottles of claret over lunch before his boys took on our opposing Captain Brennan and Bilson. And they raced to a 6-2 first set but wishing to get maximum value from their day allowed Leamington to win the second by the same margin before closing out the rubber 6-3 in the last.
Finally Constantine and Leppard took on Lillie and Bryan in the final rubber. After gifting the first set 6-2 to the locals, Katie had some firm words with your Captain and we both woke up, winning the second set 6-2 and then romping home 6-3 in the final set to save a little face with the match lost 2-3 overall. Congratulations to Leamington.
Some social doubles followed for a few whilst others continued at the bar for some considerable hours before repairing to the local Turkish restaurant for 14 of us. Excellent platters of meat and fish and not too much greenery to worry about were washed down with further beers and some fine Turkish wine (actually it really was very acceptable!). A slightly earlier night than usual was more to do with the previous 12 hours of intake than a desire to be on top form in the morning.
And so to Moreton Morrell on a beautifully crisp sunny day where Tom had organised a mixture of singles and doubles with those playing once having a three setter and those twice, two separate sets to six and eight. First on was Charlie Wells playing singles vs Andy Dalton; after a rather shaky start, literally as well as metaphorically, an 8-6 triumph set us on our way. Charlie then combined with Peter Mawson vs Andy and Jeremy Hawkins. Peter was back from family duty overnight and benefitting from rather less alcohol intake than the rest of the squad. Fresh legs and Charlie’s power play brought a 6-3 win. Peter than stayed on court vs Jeremy and has asked that nothing is reported save that he got to game point a number of times but converted few.
Your Captain then took on the big hitting Mark McClure, whose hitting happily for me was into the net for much of the time and I prevailed 8-1. Joined by Julian for a six game set off level, Mark was partnered by Andrew Hamilton and revenge was swift at 6-2.
What turned out to be the highest class match of the day then followed with Julian taking on Andrew, who owed half 15. Julian opened up a 3-0 lead only to be pegged back and it was nip and tuck then all the way to the end at 4-4, 5-5, 6-6, 7-7with Julian squeezing through to take the set by one game. At this stage, Brigands were 4-2 up in the match; surely we could win just one of the remaining three rubbers, each of which was a three setter.
First on was James Wells playing David Aldwinckle with some great tennis; the first set went to 5-5 40-40 but sadly to David, who eventually won out 6-5, 3-6, 6-4. Brigands were still up 4-3 overall.
There is always one match on such a weekend when defeat is snatched from the jaws of victory but to have two is a little unusual. Nevertheless, our final two pairings managed just that. Having each lost the first set, leads of 5-2 and 5-1 were established by both Derek and Candida and Simon and Katie. Despite our ladies more than matching some hard hitting from their opponents, both second sets went against us 6-5. Much talk of hangovers kicking in at various stages of their final set cut little ice with the Captain, whose head was found in hands on more than one occasion.
Full marks to Moreton who came out as 5-4 winners overall.