Just like that stalwart of diplomacy Boris Johnson I've gone and put my foot in it. Both feet in fact,....
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Eaton Bray Lawn Tennis Club

Posted on November 5, 2006

This article was published in November 2006. Please see Latest News for more recent information.

Eaton Bray Lawn Tennis ClubJust like that stalwart of diplomacy Boris Johnson I've gone and put my foot in it. Both feet in fact, up to my waist. Probably even my chin. In last month's article I congratulated our Ladies Division 2 team for winning their South Beds league, and I named the players. Well, most of them. All except one in fact. My sincere apologies to Jane Wigley who played a big part in their success. I have been suitably admonished by the Chairman, Secretary and Treasurer; apparently even that mad border collie who runs around outside the courts like a demented chicken on steroids every time a ball is played knew that Jane was in the team. I am happy, nay delighted and honoured to put the facts right, and hope my job here is secure for another month. Or at least until they pay me. I might as well go now.

Our club tournament finals day in September took place under sunny climes, and saw a first Men's singles victory for Michael Tatham who despatched club coach Nick Boys in straight sets, going through a racquet in the process and remarking to his watching father eremy "that's another 20 quid please Dad". Both players put their all into the match with fast and furious rallies, and Nick gave as good as he got until being eventually outgunned by rising star Michael. At half Nick's age (well, about...) Michael's energy levels won the day. Nick can take some solace however in the fact that it was he who had previously coached Michael and helped him reach the standard he is now. After all, how many top players' coaches can actually beat their employers? Not that many.... Congratulations Michael !

In another fascinating match, chairman Ross Bagni took his first title in 18 years as he and partner Jenny Baines beat Jane Wigley and Simon Mitchener in 3 sets in the mixed doubles. Scheduled for 90 minutes, the players were still pounding out the rallies 3 hours after umpire Peter Hale had tossed his coin, and during one break between games Peter had to trot to the clubhouse for a cushion to ease the cramp attack from squatting on the narrow top step of his ladder. Ross, clearly emotional after his victory, declined an interview with Focus, instead retiring to the clubhouse for a cup of tea and a nice sit down. It was reported to be the quietest Ross had ever been, and other players and onlookers savoured the moment whilst a worldwide search was launched for an engraver who could spell 'Bagni'.

In the Ladies' doubles final, Val Abercrombie and Jane Cross overcame Danielle Tansley and Jane Wigley, whilst Simon Mitchener and Pete Messetter got the better of Glenn Wigley and Nick Boys in the Mens' doubles. The Ladies' final saw some strong groundplay from the winning pair, whilst the Mens' doubles saw some unique umpiring from La Perm John (name anagrammed to protect his identity) who displayed an amazing incapability to keep track of the score. "I thought those few glasses of rosé would help me concentrate" explained umpire La Perm afterwards, "but unfortunately they had the opposite effect. It was a good job the crowd could both keep the score and act as line judges because I hadn't got the faintest idea what was going on". La Perm John has now been assigned a retraining course, an appointment at Specsavers and 2 aspirins, after which he can return to Taskers Row. Oops.

The massive developments at our club are now underway; the courts have been re-laid and the fences replaced. The great news is that, having seen our plans for expansion, a Russian billionaire, Servya Rakketov has expressed an interest in a take-over bid for the club. Together with Vietnamese financier Phut Pholt he plans to bring brand new facilities including extending the existing clubhouse down to School Lane and building new multi-storey car parking facilities on the Green. There will be a new 35,000 capacity Grandstand with ten 25 metre high floodlights, conference facilities and executive boxes. School Lane will be re-developed into a dual carriageway with a Hemel Hempstead type 'magic roundabout' at the junction of the High Street (with a McDonalds in the middle) to facilitate the journey times of the thousands of tennis players and fans expected to flock to the new facilities. It is hoped that within 3 years we will be hosting the first of many Grand Slams, taking over from Wimbledon which to be honest is beginning to look a little jaded. In place of Henman Hill the club will construct Bagni Burrow to ensure that the memory of the Chairman's magnificent victory this year is forever sculptured into the landscape of Eaton Bray. After all, it may be another 18 years before another chance comes along.

For any further information about the club, including when we get together for our social tennis sessions up at the School Lane courts, or our various activities, please contact either Chairman Ross 'Burrow' Bagni, Coach Nick Boys, or if they're all out and I'm not out in fantasy land me, Andy Cross.

Source: Focus, November 2006

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