Next time you are wandering along the High Street in Eaton Bray, look at the people you pass very carefully....
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Eaton Bray Lawn Tennis Club

Posted on August 4, 2007

This article was published in August 2007. Please see Latest News for more recent information.

Eaton Bray Lawn Tennis ClubNext time you are wandering along the High Street in Eaton Bray, look at the people you pass very carefully and try to guess whether they are in the Tennis Club. The chances are that for every 19 people you see, one will be a member, for of the 2,500 villagers, 130 have pledged themselves to our club for the year. Just imagine that, one in every 19 people, so in the village shop at any particular time there could be, oh, say half a member. A wild night out in Café Masala could see three members lurking within, whilst the typical Village dance at the hall could reveal seven or eight of us, or probably a lot more if we're organising it. We are everywhere; in the chip shop, the hairdressers, the off licence, the pub (quite often, actually) constantly on the lookout for an opportunity to whip out our racquets and knock some balls around.

The reason I cite membership numbers is because we recently held our most successful recruitment drive ever. The Play Tennis Day up at the courts in June attracted over 100 people who braved a variety of seasons in one afternoon to attend the official opening of our newly re-surfaced courts. They enjoyed tennis taster sessions, my infamous haute cuisine barbecue with new extended menu (hotdog, burger, cheeseburger, all with options of onions and/or half portions, giving an amazing 12 possible pricing combinations and that's before you choose from the four sauces on offer - what other club gives you 48 food options at any of their events?), anyway where was I, oh yes and local MP Andrew Selous came along to try his hand against some of the youngsters before officially declaring our courts 'open'. We signed up 26 new members during the afternoon - an all time record for one day - and we also announced the re-surfacing and floodlighting of our third court later this year.

We've put the all-weather 35,000 seater stadium with retractable roof, multi-storey car park and dual carriageway access up School Lane on hold for a while as our Vietnamese financier Phut Pholt failed to come up with the necessary dosh having re-directed most of it to West Ham United to pay for some Argentinian bloke who it turns out was never theirs anyway and now wants to go to Manchester United where he'll probably play in the reserves for ever. All most unsatisfactory and meanwhile our retractable roof is still on the drawing board at McAlpines.

We've had some very successful fund-raising events in the past, and the recent village carnival was no exception, providing that the actual amount isn't too important. Our stall consisted of a large board with an even larger round hole, through which contestants had to throw four tennis balls from about five feet away, and if they got three or more through then they won their money back and a packet of sweets. The cost of all this fun? 20p a go. The number of people who won? Virtually everyone. It was almost impossible to miss. Even with your eyes closed and both hands tied behind your back. We ran out of sweets and had to bring in an emergency supply of pens and then ran out of them too. We ran out of money pretty soon afterwards. Fortunately our Treasurer had the foresight to bring along some used tubes of balls which we hastily sold for 50p a tube and then hurriedly packed our stall away before any more punters could come along and wipe us out again. After much counting and double counting late into the evening, our treasurer was delighted to announce that after five hours work involving six people, we had made the princely sum of £9.47. Unfortunately that's before we've paid the carnival committee for the pitch, so here's hoping it's less than a tenner or we're all in trouble, and that third court might have to wait another few months!

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 Bagni, Coach Nick Boys, or if they're all out and I'm not sat outside the chip shop with my cap in hand begging for a few pence to pay the fete committee, me, Andy Cross.

PS: We all learnt from this. Next year, smaller hole, bigger balls and 50p a go, with no prizes except the satisfaction of having won. Should have them flocking in. We should make a tenner at least!

Source: Focus, August/September 2007

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