Archived News - Lawn Tennis
Will this year be the one when Dan takes home the cup?
That was the question posed in the penultimate paragraph of the September article.
In the first Eaton Bray Men's final, way back in time, both participants were in their 40ies. This year Darren Kerins also found himself in that age range against the younger Dan Sunderland. It was Darren's 19th consecutive final, Dan had reached the final on 2 previous occasions in 2002 & more recently in 2013 both times Darren had proven too strong an opponent. This year's match lasted in excess of 3 hours. At 6-4; 1-6; 2-5; Darren's defence of his title looked doomed but he saved a match point in a 57 shot rally & won the next 4 games. It was then Dan's turn, at 5-6 down, to stare defeat in the face but his overwhelming will to win gave him strength against a superb adversary & eventually he secured victory at 8-6 on the 69th shot of the final rally. Fortunately the crowd were not holding breath between points!
Dan has joined the exclusive band of "one hit wonders" Peter Hale, Anthony Kearney & Roy Cook - winners of a single final – not an insignificant feat as all four achieved what one prominent player strived to do, without success, over 17 years. Wayne Moore, Nick Boys & Michael Tatham are the only other players besides Darren to have won twice or more.
In the Under 18 Boys final Benjamin Johnson reversed earlier results against the same opponent by defeating Max Freebairn. Max had his moments of triumph later on.
Whilst these finals were progressing, (even without the presence of Focus poet & menu master Andy Cross,) Stephen Macintosh, Anthony Jones & Dave Williams, Eaton Bray's answer to the Beverly Sisters (prior to the recent sad loss of Joy) were producing beautiful burgers & heavenly hot dogs. They certainly did know their onions & Shirley Macintosh kept them on their toes.
The Under 18 Boys Doubles final was won by Max Freebairn & Philip Clarke against Benjamin Johnson & Ben Williams. Philip Clarke was also victorious in the Under 16 Boys final against Thomas Noithip. In the Under 14 Girls final Rosie Dickson beat Anna Bowen & this after Anna had earlier played her semi-final against Georgia Griffiths. Thomas Noithip defeated Cameron Brown in the Under 14 Boys final, Jessica Bowen came out on top against Lauren Smith in the Under 12 Girls final & in the Mini Green final Lewis Brown beat Jamie Williams.
Great credit should be given to all of the junior tournament participants – finalists & those who didn't quite make it this year – there is always time – ask Janet Hale, who beat her husband's record in the longevity stakes by featuring in the first & twenty seventh Ladies Doubles final – plus a couple in between as Mem Sab (Membership Secretary & all round scary chaser of subscription renewals) Helen Woodhead, reminded me. Not surprisingly, super-coach Sara Leavy aided by our very own Scottish tennis ace, Kirsty Glynn, beat Janet & Alison Lowe. All 3 sets were fiercely contested. Hopefully Alison will continue her tennis activities at University and on behalf of Eaton Bray Tennis Club I wish her every success.
Steve Macintosh took a little time off from handing over burgers to hit a few of his topspin, southern hemisphere, serves when partnering Alison in the Mixed Doubles final. Unfortunately for both Steve & Alison it was not a final to relish as Sara teamed up with partner Adam Bamford & showed why she is one of the top players in the county.
In the men's doubles final Peter Messetter & Simon Mitchener – (still an engravers nightmare – but not for this year) – took on Max Freebairn & a freshly showered Darren Kerins. Max was outstanding as he helped Darren achieve yet another year with a trophy. The length of rallies didn't match the singles final but play concluded so late that Simon nearly missed his train. (An "In joke" as Simon is a train driver) I am sure if Andy was still holding the pen there would be a mention of how Simon went off the rails, had a sleeper for a partner & ended up with a tender behind, but fortunately I am not Andy.
Will this year be the one when Dan takes home the cup? As you now can tell – It was.
The brilliant coaching work of Sara Leavy & her trusted band of helpers continues. Results in the South Bedfordshire junior leagues for summer 2015 have been most impressive, as has the organising by Debbie Williams. The emergence of some junior players into the senior play is very welcome– although they may be encountering some shots not taught by Sara, but hey ho variety is the spice of tennis !
The final placings for the three senior teams are not yet known but hopefully our Men's B team will end up top of their section & the Men's A team, although not fulfilling all of their fixtures, will feature in the top couple of teams in division 3 The summer season was always going to be tough going for our Mixed team who gained promotion into the top flight last year. They will probably be relegated this term.
To conclude, Eaton Bray Tennis Club continues to provide coaching, social & competitive tennis to the local community. New members are always welcome. Information is available on our website ebltc.org.uk
Time has moved on since May when our last article was published in Focus. Now with the imminent approach of our 27th Club Finals Day on Saturday 12th September it seemed an opportune time to put pen to paper / finger to keyboard & delve back into the past with the aid of a quarter century of diaries (I do detect a communal sigh of relief from most club members that E.B.L.T.C. was not formed back in 1968 but that story maybe can be left until Andy Cross re-enters the Focus scene) prior to coming right up to date with information regarding this year's finalists.
Our very first Finals Day occurred on Bank Holiday Monday August 28th 1989 Ably organised by Ross Bagni – is there any limit to his attributes ? – The Men's singles title was contested between two founder members – we probably were all founder members at that time, the club having only been formed in 1987 – Mike Venn & Peter Hale. The youthful 42 year old securing victory. Our first ladies champion was Lisa Abercrombie who defeated her mum (a family affair well ahead of any Williams sister rivalry) in a 2 hour 3 set marathon. Mike & Judy Venn beat Mike & Val Abercrombie in the mixed doubles & Lisa & Val were lady partners defeating Judy Venn & Janet Hale in the ladies doubles final.
Longevity Rules O.K. insomuch as four of the above-mentioned remain active & mobile to this day (at least when Ross is not having a heart attack or being knocked over on court by players twice his size – apologies to Roy Cook for the slight exaggeration of his bulk) and in the ensuing years all four managed to get their names on one or more of the trophies. (Yes, even Ross, thanks to partnering Jenny Baines who holds the record for most ladies singles titles)
Mike Venn & Val Abercrombie, both no longer alive, remain very much in the thoughts of club members.
As the club grew & the annual tournament became much more competitive with the likes of Nick Boys & Michael Tatham participating, one name stood out above all others in the holding of silverware, Darren Kerins. 20 singles finals to date with 16 of them victorious. 7 men's doubles titles, the last admittedly won on the back of being the partner of Andy Cross and 6 mixed doubles titles. Impressive.
So, back to the present. Like most tournaments in local tennis clubs such as Dunstable, Flitwick, Edlesborough etc. getting participants to play their matches on time is an organiser's nightmare as our own David Hillman will testify. Thus with less than 4 days to go to finals day not all of our finalists are known.
Our coach Sara Leavy will contest the mixed final with Adam Bamford should they manage to beat David Hillman & Jenny Baines. Stephen Macintosh & Alison Lowe will be the opponents in the final.
In the men's doubles final Peter Messetter & Simon Mitchener – an engravers nightmare – will take on young Max Freebairn & not so young Darren Kerins who looked into the precipice of defeat prior to scaling the mountain of victory against Peter Hale & Roy Cook, champions of the last two years. Peter & Simon will be going for their fourth victory since 2002.
With the considerable help of young Alison Lowe, who has made quite a name for herself in Bedfordshire tennis, Janet Hale has achieved the remarkable feat of reaching finals in the very first & the current year of Eaton Bray's existence. Hopefully both Sara Leavy & Kirsty Glynn will show respect for their elders & youngers in the final.
David Provan, who has been a tower of strength in our club, has the unenviable task of trying to prevent Darren reaching yet another men's singles final. There awaiting one of them will be Dan Sunderland.
Will this year be the one when Dan takes home the cup?
Hopefully the answer to this & other questions, plus a roundup of both senior & junior performances in the South Bedfordshire Topspin Racquets Summer League, will appear in our next article.
2012 will be an exciting time to be a part of Eaton Bray Lawn Tennis Club. It was in January 1987 that the club was formed by a small group of people, some of whom are still involved in the running of the club today. This year we will be aiming to celebrate our 25th anniversary in style with a special event at the end of the summer. This event will also serve as a fundraising event for the club and our nominated charity for 2012.
Brain Tumour UK
One of our junior members, Alison Lowe and her mother Wendy has requested that we support a charity that is very dear to them. Alison's uncle sadly passed away in February 2011 having suffered from a brain tumour. It was Malcolm's encouragement that brought Alison to our club and now she is one of the most talented young players representing the club at junior and senior level as well as being part of the County squad. Therefore, we will be planning a charity tennis event to raise funds for Brain Tumour UK. This will run in conjunction with our Play Day on Saturday 26th May. Do come and support us and be part of the fun on the courts.
March will see the end of the Mike Venn Trophy which has run throughout the winter. This social tennis event will give way to a series of round robins which will be played one Sunday morning once a month during the summer months. Social tennis sessions take place every week on Tuesday evenings and Sunday mornings. Our club tournaments will commence in May and we have entered teams into the South Bedfordshire League Our junior section has grown in the last two years and we shall be arranging three junior tournaments during the spring and summer. Easter and Summer Tennis camps proved popular last year and the Easter camp is arranged for 2nd-5th and 10th-13th April. We are also looking into some trips to tournaments for the older juniors so that they can see the professionals play.
Our qualified coach, Sara Leavy continues to provide lessons and coaching for the club. Juniors are welcomed to group sessions on Saturday mornings and Wednesday evenings and seniors on Saturday afternoons and Wednesday nights. Sara is also promoting private lessons for juniors and seniors. Please refer to the club noticeboards for further details.
The very popular twice yearly quiz will take place on the 21st April and 17th November. Tickets can be purchased for £9 from Ross Bagni.
The Chairman's barbecue will take place on 15th July. Tickets for this event will go on sale in the Spring. Also in the Spring we shall start to promote the 25th Anniversary and Charity Ball. This event will take place on 29th September in the Village Hall.
Discounted Membership for new members
Being a sociable and friendly club we are always delighted to welcome new members.
Source: Focus, April 2012
December is a month for reminiscing; what we've done during the year, what we've enjoyed, what we may have done differently, and who we should have beaten at tennis when we actually lost 6-0, 6-0.
So it was that before sojourning to my laptop to pen this small offering, I decided to turn back the years for inspiration purposes, by looking back at the last 15 years of EBLTC Focus articles. There was good reason for this, which I shall come on to later...
That's when the trouble started. Apart from reading 150 editions of Focus, which meant not talking to my wife for over a week (every cloud etc....!) how do you pick your favourite moments?
I particularly enjoyed the story of our efforts to transform our courts into the new home of British tennis by extending out towards School Lane, turning the school into a multi-storey car-park, and making School Lane itself a dual carriageway with a Hemel Hempstead style funny roundabout at the junction with the High Street. It was all going so well until our Vietnamese financier, Phut Pholt, ran off with all our money.
And then there was the plan to ground-share our courts with Tottenham Hotspur, following their failed bid for the Olympic Stadium, with club training facilities to be based at committee member Glenn Wigley's house, but it then transpired that 'Arry their manager had a taste for Orange sauce, and with the Wigley's keeping ducks, well that was that.
But the true stories are the best, and nothing, but nothing can match that famous committee meeting held in March 2000, almost 12 years ago, when our 'International Liaison Officer' John Palmer (who only got the job because he had an old 'Letts' guide book) announced that he had scoured the internet - which in itself should have set alarm bells ringing - and successfully twinned our little club with one in Boulogne, France. He'd already arranged via e-mail for us to visit them and play a weekend tournament! This would comprise of a Saturday morning ferry over, a few games of tennis followed by some good food and wine, a hotel in St Omer, then a late ferry back on the Sunday after a spot of shopping at Tesco's beer shop in Calais. This very evening, we were to call their Chairman to finalise the arrangements. How exciting! What could go wrong?
We made the call all huddled around the speakerphone, used our best French pleasantries, and all was going swimmingly well until about three minutes in, when it became apparent that there were some crossed wires somewhere. Our French counterpart could not comprehend why we were reserving accommodation in St Omer, near Boulogne-Sur-Mer? As uncertainty grew into confusion, it slowly dawned on John that there were two Boulognes in France. One on the North coast, where he thought he'd arranged this tournament, and another Boulogne, a very small village 870 miles south of Calais, 10,000 feet up in the Pyrenees near the Spanish border, and the one from where our French colleague was now asking 'allo.... allo.... are you steel zere'? down the phone. Yes, the one where John had actually arranged the tournament. I should have mentioned that his guide book was on Persia.
Once we had regained our composure – and John had come round – I spent the next 20 minutes trying to explain in my best pidgin French to this very excited gentleman from a miniscule village that had never seen an outsider since the Romans came calling, (during which I apparently ordered seventeen beers), that it was simply not a good use of time or resources to drive 870 miles for a game of tennis, and back again the next day. He was crestfallen; the Mayor had laid on a civic reception, all police leave had been cancelled for both of them, and the eight schoolchildren had been given Union Jacks to wave along the Boulevard de Pyrenees as we arrived. Nonetheless, we eventually extracted ourselves from this delicate situation, assuring our new friend that, at some date in the future, we would try to visit him and his small but high and remote village. When John gets a new guidebook, probably!
So endeth the reminiscing, and also so endeth my monthly scribbles in Focus for EBLTC. After 15 years (with a couple of short respites!) it's time to hand the reins over to someone who talks sense. We're hoping that he or she will come forward at our AGM in January, so if you're interested, please let me know! In the meantime, to misquote some popular phrases, it's Goodbye from me, but not Goodbye from them. So long readers, and thanks for all the fish. It's been real. Was Nice to see you, to see you Nice!!
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, you can visit our website at www.ebltc.org.uk.
Source: Focus, December 2011
Grey clouds billowed menacingly across the sky last Saturday as our annual club Final's Day got underway, our 23rd since we stared out in 1989. Tennis players and supporters however are a hardy bunch, and all arrived undeterred by the BBC weatherman's forecast of 'a few light showers' determined to play – and hopefully win – their finals, or to cheer on their family member/friend/person who'd paid them to come along. And so it was that we laid out 20 garden chairs alongside court 1, made ourselves a cup of hot coffee, and sat down to enjoy the first final of the afternoon. Umpire was Peter Hale, who had to make do standing on another garden chair, as we'd inadvertently left the umpire's ladder in Judy Venn's garage and no-one had the energy to go back and get it.
This was the first time the Ladies Singles final had been contested since 2007, and we were not disappointed. Alison Lowe took on Alicia Franklin, both ladies still strictly Juniors, but putting on a display of tennis that would make any one of our first team players look over their shoulders. A match very high in quality eventually saw Alison come out on top 6-1, 6-3 to take her first Senior title at the club. Congratulations Alison!
Next up was the Men's Singles, which saw our only 3-setter of the afternoon. Darren Kerins and Kevin Todd entertained us for almost 2 hours in a fiercely competitive match full of chips, lobs and powerful forehands. Despite Kevin taking the first set, Darren came through in the end 4-6, 6-4, 6-3 to take his 13th Men's Singles title, his first being in 1993. Not many professional tennis players are still at the top of their game after 18 years! I should clarify that part of that 2 hour match included a rain break, when the heavens opened and every committee member to a man ran onto the courts to pull out the protective covers, before remembering that we didn't have any.
A short sharp shower it was however; play quickly resumed after a swift 10 minute break in the clubhouse (during which Kevin had a cup of tea and a bag of cheese and onion crisps).
The Mixed Doubles was played out on Court 2, giving some spectators the challenging decision of which court to place their garden chairs alongside. Carole Thorp and (tennis) partner Simon Mitchener had the tough task of playing club coach Sara Leavy and her partner Glen Wigley. Sarah played a 'blinder' with some magnificent contributions from Glenn (or so he told me afterwards, when I told him I'd be writing my Focus report later), and despite strong resistance from their opponents, Sara and Glenn won in straight sets 6-4, 6-1. That match was quickly followed by the Ladies Doubles final, consisting of Jane Cross and Claire Fox-Wilson against Judy Venn and Alison Lowe, by now fully recovered from her earlier victory (the stamina of these youngsters)! Judy and Alison played superbly, taking control of and winning the first set, and despite Jane and Claire raising their game in the second, they couldn't prevent Judy and Alison taking the title 6-1, 7-5. Two titles in one afternoon for Alison, and Judy's 3rd title overall, her first being back on our inaugural Final's Day in 1989. Still winning titles after 23 years is some achievement!
The final match was the Men's Doubles between Simon Mitchener and Peter Messetter, playing Darren Kerins and John Slater. Darren and John put up a good fight and made it a very close encounter, but Simon and Peter emerged victorious at the end of an exciting tie-break,6-3, 7-6. And so ended a fantastic day of tennis, but being Eaton Bray Tennis Club, the day was only just beginning! There followed a social evening in the clubhouse with around 30 members (some suitably hosed down after their exploits on court), both adult and junior, enjoying various savoury and sweet dishes brought along by members, the quantities of which could have fed most of Eaton Bray for a week. Our clubhouse fridge was bulging with copious amounts of bottles and cans of suitable liquid refreshment, consumed whilst regaling ever more exaggerated stories of heroic exploits on court earlier in the day. Cups and prizes were awarded, and as night fell, everyone slipped away happy, contented and proud to be a member!
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, you can visit our website at www.ebltc.org.uk.
Source: Focus, October 2011
Things are hotting up – literally – at EBLTC this summer. Some of our Tuesday and Sunday social playing sessions have even been accompanied by the occasional glimpse of sunlight! One intrepid individual was actually spotted wearing shorts last week. He hopes to be over the worst of the frostbite soon. But the lighter evenings mean two things. First, it means that the Earth's northern hemisphere is tilting towards the sun while the southern hemisphere tilts away from it. So as the UK is tilted toward the sun, the daylight lasts more than 12 hours because the sun is at its northernmost position from the equator. Second, it means that we can play more tennis. It is this second fact that is the most interesting (or less boring) to our merry band of members, and thus encourages them out onto the courts after dinner like bees round a honey pot.
Thus, our junior members are coming on leaps and bounds thanks to coach Sara Leavy's enthusiastic and fun Saturday morning sessions. Our internal club tournament is at a peak, with members vying to get into the next round, the incentive being a place on court on Final's Day on Saturday 10th September. Final's day always draws big crowds, nearly 25 turned up last year. This time though, there is an added highlight. As well as our usual scrumptious 256 menu choice barbecue, I will be attempting once more to conquer that death defying annual challenge which is the umpire's chair. Last year I got halfway up and felt dizzy, and despite bravely continuing to the top, couldn't turn around to park myself in the seat. As such I descended backwards down all 6 steps and walked round and round in circles in a very stressed state, demanding to anyone who would listen that I was immediately released from umpiring duties. Ross then very kindly sat me down, made me a cup of sweet tea and persuaded me to umpire from ground level, which I was very happy with. I've now spent a year in therapy with an acrophobia specialist and am already able to go upstairs on my own, so don't miss my second attempt at 'the chair' on 10th September..! I just hope I'll fit into it; it does seem to shrink a bit every year whilst in storage. The clubhouse must be damp, I'll have a word with the committee.
Our various teams in the South Beds league continue to fight hard against some excellent competition. It's a difficult year; with several of our teams having being promoted into higher divisions after last season, the quality of the opposition has likewise improved. We're a bit like Stoke City though, stabilising our position this year before going for total domination next season. In total, 48 matches have so far been played (or occasionally postponed as the opposition struggle to find brave-enough players to face us). Our Girls Under 16s are doing very well, with Alison Lowe and Alicia Franklin winning all their matches. Our Ladies team has won 2 matches (with Alison again appearing in both...) as have our Men's A and our Mixed. Unfortunately Alison wasn't allowed to play for the Men's A team, although they could do with her based on some tough matches coming up! But there's a way to go yet, and a full report of our final positions will appear here at the end of the season, so stay tuned! Someone called me to say that it will also appear on BskyB, but only if I left them my mobile phone security details, and a summary of the tennis club's recent financial transactions. Based on our Vietnamese financier Phut Pholt's recent record, I declined and told them that if I ever heard from them again, I'd get their newspaper closed down. The power of EBLTC.
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, you can visit our website at www.ebltc.org.uk
Following our loss of the Tottenham Hotspur ground-share contract, life in Eaton Bray can now return to normal; there being no need to widen School Lane, park Alan Sugar’s multi-axle caravan on Moor End, or evict the Wigleys' ducks to live with ‘Arry Redknapp and his newly acquired orange grove.
It was all going according to game-plan until our Vietnamese lawyer, Phut Pholt, ran off with all our money. We suspect there’s a racquet going on between him, our Russian lawyer Braikov Zerve, and his assistant Annette Call who have been taking backhanders. It’s their fault, due to their unforced errors they’ve sold us down the line, and there’s no love lost. We’ll see them in court, appoint a receiver and smash the underhand service they’ve given us in a single stroke. There can only be one winner whatever spin they might serve up, and they won’t return to poach from us again. Let that be a lesson to them. Five years in the grand slammer would be ace. Or even double.
Meanwhile on planet Earth: Membership renewal is going well for 2011, and eight lucky members have been awarded the opportunity to buy Wimbledon tickets through the annual club draw! They will be heading down to SW19 in June with their scrumptious picnics and hopes for a British victory. Well at least the picnics won’t disappoint. Coaching continues to thrive, and we’re delighted that club coach that Sara Leavy had passed her NVQ Level 2 – congratulations Sara! Dates have been arranged for some Junior Matches, and we’re introducing a Girls under 16 team and a Mixed under 9 team, plus two Boys under 12 teams. Competition for places will be rife, and there’s always room for more juniors who’d like to be considered, so if you’d like to play some fun tennis this summer, get in touch with us, or ask your parents/guardians to call us for you!
Or... come up to our Play Tennis Day on Sunday 15th May, just a few days from when you’ll be reading this! Adults and youngsters are all welcome, just come and knock a few balls about with some of our members and see if you like it! There’s absolutely no commitment, and we’ll even provide you with a racquet, tea or coffee, and biscuits. It runs from 11.30am until 2pm so you can put the Sunday roast on, pop up to the courts for an hour, have a knock around and build up an appetite for lunch. What better way to earn your roast dinner on a warm May Sunday morning (we hope)!
Finally, our club competition kicks (sorry serves) off soon, which will see various matches played over the next four months culminating in our Grand Finals Day on Saturday 10th September. This is always an excellent day at the courts, where the sun usually shines, the crowd relaxes on a various assortment of garden furniture, and the barbecue gently sizzles, sending an aroma of burnt sausages wafting over the green.
Worth putting in your diaries now, and booking your summer holidays around it. To quote one EBLTC member: “I’d rather spend an extra couple of grand and go during the school holidays, than miss our club Final’s day”. So there’s one that will definitely be there (providing the authorities have let him out by then).
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, you can visit our website at www.ebltc.org.uk.
What an amazing few days it has been here in the boardroom of EBLTC. There have been various comings and goings of internationally recognisable stars from both business and sport.
Late night negotiations have kept us up until breakfast, and our lawyers fees alone are already running into the millions (note to self; ask Chairman to put subscriptions up a bit next year).
So what is all this about, I hear you ask?
Well I can exclusively reveal, here in Focus, before you read about it in the newspapers or see it on News at Ten, that we have negotiated a multi-million pound deal to sell our tennis courts! You will have read that West Ham United have won the right to take over the Olympic Stadium after the 2012 games. That left THFC - Tottenham Hotspur Football Club - with nowhere to go. So sensing the chance to make a few quid, we phoned White Hart Lane and asked to speak to ‘Arry. We made an offer; for 25 million pounds you can buy our courts and build your new stadium there! We agreed to start negotiations in the coffee tavern that evening, and we’re delighted to announce that a deal has been struck! (First time round we got the wrong number and got through to Harry, the manager at the White Hart in Dunstable who was very surprised at being asked to pay 25 million quid for 3 tennis courts. He said “I’ll give you 15, luv”).
All arrangements are in place, contractors organised, contracts signed and bribes paid. The courts will be dug up next week, turf laid, and painted like a football pitch (penalty areas, six yard boxes, the lot). However, and this is the clever bit; after each match on Saturdays, the pitch will be ‘re-branded’ (our marketing manager came up with that) as tennis courts and re-painted accordingly. So we will have Spurs playing on a Saturday with 60,000 people watching from the new all-seater stadium to be constructed in the rec (sorry about the skate park lads) but then on a Sunday we can take over again and play proper lawn tennis with our usual crowd of about 3. We’ve agreed that they can sit anywhere they like, but the burger joints and bars won’t be open. This, therefore, is the ultimate ‘ground share’ where Spurs and us both benefit from a mutually beneficial business venture (the marketing bloke again). They keep the gate money and we get 25 million up front, as much white paint as we can store in the clubhouse, a box for life (that’s one to stand on not to watch from), and free parking and burgers for life. Simples.
Clearly School Lane will have to be widened to accommodate the extra traffic expected, and a couple of Hemel Hempstead type roundabouts built, but that’s a small matter and we reckon we won’t need planning permission if we do all the work at night. Striker Peter Crouch has already been into Densons, and has his sights on a nice semi in the Orchards. Manager Harry Redknapp intends to base himself in the bar at the White Horse and will conduct transfer negotiations there over a few pints of Spitfire. His wife was concerned about how she will fill her time in a small village, but has found employment at the Happy Valley where she will be section leader of the chip department. Chairman Alan Sugar required a dwelling a little more up-market, so has chosen a 35 foot chrome-trimmed caravan (double axled at that) for which we have gained planning permission to be parked on the unused grassy triangle at Moor End. Well we haven’t actually got it through in writing yet, but our lawyer Phut Pholt says in won’t be a problem. It will add a bit of class to a rather run-down area of the village and help stop cars parking there in Carnival day. Finally, training facilities for the team have been leased (or rather commandeered). We all measured our back gardens and Glenn Wigley had the biggest, so the team will train there 4 times a week. The ducks will have to be re-housed so ‘Arry has offered to sneak in one night next week and take them somewhere safe where he can look after them. Apparently he’s also ordered 10 pounds of oranges from Tescos to be delivered the next morning. I never even knew ducks ate oranges. Amazing what you learn at EBLTC.
Source: Focus, March 2011
Well it's been an event packed summer at EBLTC so I've no time for idle banter this month. As if I'd ever do that.
So let's start with our Summer League results, where we entered 5 teams competing against such mighty opposition as Luton & Vauxhall, Linslade and our local derby opponents Edlesborough (although there's never any crowd trouble, and there's not a single vuvuzela to be heard thank goodness). In total our teams played 33 matches, winning 17 of them (over half!) with the stars of the show being our Men's C team who won 6 out of their 7 matches, just one more win than our Men's B team. In terms of overall scores, our teams achieved 369 points against the opposition's 311, so another 'victory'! It's possible that our C team may get promoted next season, although look what happens when West Brom and Burnley do that - usually straight back down again. So we may claim insanity and stay where we are - these things are all sorted out by people a lot further up the tennis hierarchy than me! But overall an excellent season's campaign, and congratulations to all the EBLTC players who took part and played so proudly for our club.
From Summer to Winter. It's still not too late to join our club if you'd like to try some tennis over the cooler months (at bargain discounted rates of course...) - committee member Glenn has once again brushed the mothballs off his ZX-81 and compiled a competition spreadsheet so hugely complicated that an Enigma operator would have been proud to crack it, and only a very brainy one at that. However once he explained it to the committee in a meeting that lasted several days, all eventually became clear, and the long and short of it is that we're running a winter league where you can play about once a month on a Sunday from October through to March; this is organised around our normal Sunday social sessions. Players are placed in a section according to their standard, so it's open to absolutely everyone, and should be a lot of fun. The winner is awarded the Mike Venn trophy in memory of one of our club's founding members. Last year over 30 members played in the league, with Kevin Todd coming out as overall winner, So please do call us if you'd like to take part; as I've said we're very cheap at this time of year ☺
What next...? Ah yes the Chairman's barbecue. I can report on a good sized gathering in early September comprising of members aged from 4 months to, well, a tad older. Chairman Bernadette Hillman once again hosted whilst husband Dave was put in charge of burning the steaks and spilling the wine (although Peter Hale was in charge of spilling the beer). In fact the steaks were huge and juicy, the chicken was cooked to perfection and the beer and wine ﬂ owed as freely as the Zambezi (mostly onto the Hillman's decking). Young Sophie Anne Booth, our newest recruit, was passed around for several members to coo at without once crying (Sophie, not the members), so we're sure she's made of stern enough stuff to lead our Ladies team one day. Maybe, Rosie and Jon, you can get her up to the courts on a Sunday morning? It's never too young to start, so they say, and we have some quite small racquets and can lower the net a bit.
Oh gosh this is exhausting, so much news. I'm all worn out. So to our club Final's day which took place on 11th September. 'Focus' have very kindly 'held the front page' for these results, and it was worth it! We saw two relatively new club members walk away (quite slowly) with championships. Stuart Adolph, with partner Jane Wigley, took the Mixed Doubles title in a tight match against Danielle Tansley and Martin Clarke. In the Ladies Doubles, Jan Hale and Judy Venn beat Carole Thorp and Des Antoniou in a game umpired by yours truly; I performed this task from ground level, due to the extremely small seat at the top of the steps not fitting my body shape. This was Judy's fourth title since the inception of the tournament in 1989, but Jan's first, so there was much celebration in the Hale household that evening. During a quiet moment in the scoring, I decided to add up the player's ages which, when added to mine, made a total of 307. I think that must be some sort of record for 5 people on a tennis court, unless of course Ilie Nastase and Billie Jean King made a comeback.
The Men's Doubles was another close contest with another recently-joined member taking the title; John Slater and partner Darren Kerins got the better of Nick Boys and Glenn Wigley, and Darren went one better in the Men's Singles beating an in-form Keith Hillman in another excellent contest. This was, believe it or not, Darren's 24th title, an average of 1.4 a year since his first back in 1993. Now that will take some beating, and I'm planning to start with my first next year; I reckon I can beat Darren by the time I'm 108. In the meantime, congratulations are due to Stuart Adolph and John Slater for making such a rapid rise up the club rankings and taking their first tournament titles, and most certainly not their last! Just wait until they meet me, though...
Source: Focus, October 2010
Summer 2010 Discounted Membership And Lessons
Eaton Bray lawn tennis club is a friendly social club seeking to introduce or re-introduce new members to tennis. The club is hosting a number of events designed to encourage existing and new members to get actively involved in both social and competitive tennis and to improve their game through private or group tuition.
Get Back Into Tennis
(Saturdays 2pm From May Onwards)
Aimed at seniors who wish to take up tennis or for those of you who wish to blow the cobwebs away before getting more serious.
Play Day 19 June 12pm-5pm
Come to our play day. Meet some of the members, hit a few balls, get some free pointers from our coach, let your children play some mini tennis. Get half price membership.
Juniors Get Into Tennis
Come along to our junior open day on bank holiday Monday (31 may) from 2pm or turn up on any Monday 4-6pm or Saturdays 10am-12.30pm.
Contact our junior co-ordinator or coach to find out more about our discounted membership and lessons.
Free Taster Sessions
Seniors are welcome to attend our open sessions from 10am-12pm on Sundays and 6pm-8pm on Tuesdays.
For more information please contact visit the club website www.ebltc.org.uk.
Source: Focus, June 2010
You may think that it is bit early to be talking about Spring, but if you think about it, this is the last chance to talk to you before the February edition so I make no apologies in forewarning you of this fabulous event.
The same team that bring you the masterful Quizzes twice a year are at it again. We (that is the Village Hall & Tennis Club but I am sure you know that) thought what a wonderful idea to give you the chance for a dance.
We have organised a live band, Jim Balls and The Racquets. That is the Tennis club's infl uence, and they play our sort of music! Whilst the caterers are preparing a sumptuous two course meal, a choice of two main courses plus sumptuous desserts. (I suppose they are not actually preparing it now, probably on the day).
What have you got to pay for all this? Just £16 if booked by the 14th February or £18 thereafter. That is a real credit crunch beating deal!
So to book, just let me (Ross) know your requirements and remember that as usual the first person to ring me with the correct page number of our advert for this event in this month's Focus will be given 2 free tickets. Tel 221411
Well what about the quiz held on the 10th October, as you may remember I was absent (due to sister's in law 60th, is the apostrophe in the correct place? I am never sure; answers on a postcard please........). I hear that it was a great success and as usual was all the better for my absence. May I thank you all for coming and all those helpers who made it such a splendid success. Our greatest thanks must be to Keith Blackburn who continues to create the quiz questions for us all to enjoy. Don't forget after the Dance comes the next quiz in April 2010, more info in the next edition of Focus.
One last thing before I stop. The Village Hall front is being renovated and by the time you read this will be looking very smart indeed. You can see where the Village Hall is spending the money. Thank you all for your support throughout 2009 and we hope you will come to our Dance and Quiz in 2010, enjoy yourselves and help keep the improvements coming at your Hall.
Happy Christmas and a Healthy New Year
Source: Focus, December 2009
You would have thought that with the onset of the darker evenings, the colder afternoons and the ever-increasing risk of aquatic chaos, winter blizzards, snowdrifts and subsequent general mayhem, our on-court tennis activities would have begun to slow down, in preparation for that much anticipated hibernation period. That period where the tennis racquets are lobbed into the attic to gather cobwebs until the first rays of spring sunshine peep through the curtains, usually around April, to entice us less devoted players back out onto the courts so that we can play wearing less than six layers of clothing. But no! This year things are different; and as I pen this, one dreary Sunday morning in mid October, there are no less than 24 members due on court to take part in the first leg of our new Winter League Ladder. The brainchild of committee member Glenn Wigley (although we all think he used his computer), the competition runs over a six-month period playing once a month, with players competing against one another in groups, to move up the 'ladder'. At the end of March there will be a declared winner who will be the proud recipient of the 'Mike Venn Trophy', named in remembrance of Mike, late husband and doubles partner of club founder member Judy Venn - still a regular player and a mixed doubles finalist this year!
Thus at EBLTC, tennis stays as a true year-round sport, and despite my protestations even I might have to relent and drag myself down to the courts one bleak midwinter Sunday morning in an attempt to move my peg a few places higher up the ladder. I'm also going to suggest a ladder for barbecues, but no-one else will be allowed to join, therefore I can't fail to finish top. Or bottom thinking about it...
As 'Focus' goes to press tomorrow, I can just squeeze in a report on last night's Quiz at the village hall, jointly organised by the village hall and tennis club committees. No less than 172 people battled in teams with names such as the 'Eggheads' and 'Braindrain' to answer questions on everything from atomic atmospheric elements to football players. At this point I wish it to be known that I said 'Argon' but no-body believed me. And no, that's not the footballer. I wasn't the only one - no-one believed Jane Wigley's 'Tufted Puffin' either, but somehow our team still came second to the 'Magnificent Seven' who took home a magnificent seven bottles of quality wine (or so the notice said in Aldi). 'Mary's Ladies', now re-named and down to seven following the sad passing of Mary French, took their usual 'consolation' prize of seven boxes of fine chocolate; I'm convinced those ladies are actually mega-intelligent with IQs to match that of Stephen Hawking, but use that intellect to purposely come up with all the wrong answers and come last, to purposely win the chocolates every time. Seems to work though, but beware ladies, I've seen through your crafty plan and next time my team plans to answer the question before last, just like the Two Ronnies did in 'Mastermind'. That way we'll have all the right answers, but not necessarily in the right order, and get to take home the chocolates. I'll keep that quiet until the next quiz though.
The change of usual compere to yours truly, was forced upon the unsuspecting audience by Ross Bagni's long planned holiday to Scotland with equally long suffering wife Shelagh. The holiday itself was briefer than planned, as whilst unloading their car, poor Shelagh took a tumble and managed to break her femur which has resulted in a fairly long enforced hospital stay there. Our thoughts are with Shelagh for as speedy a rehabilitation as possible; Ross has promised to encase her in bubble-wrap for her next outing. That said, we still managed to make a total profit of £1,300 to be split between the village hall and the tennis club; £431 of which was from the superbly supported raffle alone. Huge thanks go to Katrina Hurley and her team of helpers, Keith Blackburn our quizmaster extraordinaire, ably assisted/hindered by Glenn Wigley, EBLTC Chairman Bernadette Hillman, and everyone involved for making this such a successful evening. Put the next one in your diaries now - Saturday 24th April 2010 and book early!
Source: Focus, November 2009
I know our twice yearly quiz (held jointly with the Eaton Bray Tennis Club) is popular, but can you believe it as I write this, on September 8th, we are already sold out for the Quiz on October 10th! What can we say, but thank you to all our fabulous supporters who have rallied round and done the business. And a really big SORRY to those of you who had wanted to come, but, we are unable to fit in.
See you there, don't forget 7.30 for 8.00pm.
On a very sad note I am sure many of you know of the passing of Mary French. She had been a keen supporter of the hall since its building and was, until only very recently, a trustee. She taught me a lot when I joined the trustees, as she was a “doer” not a talker and did many things to support us.
Recently she gathered many members to the 200 Club and collected their monies on a regular basis and I hope that they will continue with their support for the “Club”. She always organised a team for the quiz which, always managed to come last! We are sure they only did this to collect the special booby prize, which is usually some nice confectionery! We are delighted that Mary's ladies are coming to the quiz and we wish them the best of luck in trying to maintain their record!
You may have noticed that the inside of the hall has been repainted and that we have a new sign over the front door. We are really trying to make sure that the hall is kept in excellent condition. We will hopefully start work on redoing the paving at the front, so the entrance is user friendly and a lot smarter than at present.
We know that the car park needs a lot of attention, but that will be very costly so we need to keep fundraising. We will be announcing further fund raising events next month, do keep a look out for more information. If you have any queries or just want a chat about the hall, contact me, Ross.
Source: Focus, October 2009
A magnificently sunny Saturday afternoon hosted our club's Final's Day on 12th September, the culmination of several months of eagerly competitive knock-out rounds, and the barbecue sizzled succulently as once more our 3,016 menu options were hungrily devoured by players and supporters alike. Helen Woodhead donned the apron as my sous-chef, whilst the day's umpiring activities were carried out by Dave Hillman, Peter Hale, Ross Bagni and the visually challenged John 'how am I going to get up into that chair?' Palmer. John actually tried to blag a free burger on the basis of being an OAP and even flourished his bus pass in an effort to avoid paying the £1.50, but the promise of a nice sit down later with a cup of tea was sufficient to entice him into the chair. Thinking about it, I don't recall anyone helping him down again, he might still be there. If anyone's up at the courts, would they mind checking?
On court, the Men's Singles final was a rematch of last year's, but this time Darren Kerins was able to overcome Michael Tatham in two sets, beating his own record of being our most prolific Champion, making this his 22nd title overall, and the 29th for the Kerins family. His first was all the way back in 1993 when he won both the Singles and the Men's Doubles. This year though, Darren could only make runner up in the Men's Doubles final with his partner Dave Williams, when in another very close encounter they just lost to Simon Mitchener and Pete Messetter, whose unique style of serving left his opponents open mouthed. Those that have seen Pete serve will understand this ironic juxtaposition....! The Ladies Doubles saw Danielle Tansley and new partner Carol Thorp play very well together as a team to defeat Jane Cross and Anne Moxey, giving both ladies their first title. Later however, Jane did take her 11th overall title in the Mixed Doubles when paired with Keith Hillman, who took a day off from his football, badminton, squash, rugby and basketball (he's almost as fit as I am...), in victory against Judy Venn and Simon Mitchener. Simon was standing in for the injured Peter Hill, who had a fault with his foot. This was Judy's 20th year competing in the club tournament, having won her first title in the Mixed Doubles back in 1989 at the club's inaugural Championship. No clubhouse, floodlights or barbecues back in those days; we used to bring up our own chairs and picnics and if you were caught short then it was off into the bushes!
We also savoured a keenly competitive junior tournament: in the under 8s Finlay Tarvit won in a close match against Mollie Baylis, and in the over 8s, Sophie Mitchener ran out the winner against Laura Baylis, in a reverse of last year's competition when Laura won. Judging from the talent being displayed on court three by these juniors, the club has a great future to look forward to; who knows what records will be being broken on Final's Day in 20 years from now! One thing's for sure; it won't be me breaking them.
As a 'change from the norm' this year, Madame Chairman had the excellent idea of staging a social evening in the clubhouse following the Finals. So after a quick hose down, about 30 members, both adult and junior, all gathered together having brought along various savoury and sweet dishes, the quantities of which could have fed most of Eaton Bray for a week. Our clubhouse fridge was bulging with copious amounts of bottles and cans of suitable liquid refreshment, consumed whilst regaling ever more exaggerated stories of heroic exploits on court earlier in the day. It was after one particularly potent can of lemonade that I was asked by the Chairman to act as master of ceremonies for the trophy presentations. Matters were not aided by Ross, who despite being in charge of the junior tournament couldn't remember the names of any of the winners, or indeed any competitors at all. Despite this setback, I struggled through the address with an almost 100% record on the finalists' names, my only challenge being my interpretation of Peter Hale's handwritten note confirming a 'Dave W' as a runner-up in the Men's Doubles, which for some inexplicable reason I interpreted as Dave White, another member but one not present on the day. It was of course Dave Williams, who was there, to whom I apologised profusely blaming dementia, poor lighting and Peter's lack of written clarity, but not necessarily in that order.
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, you can visit our website at www.ebltc.org.uk; Alternatively please contact Chairman Bernadette Hillman, Coach Nick Boys, or if they're all out and I'm not mixing up people's names, me, Randy Coss.
Source: Focus, October 2009
Don't forget our annual Play Tennis Day, which we're holding as part of the National Lawn Tennis Association's 'Play Tennis' days.
It's on Saturday 20th June at the courts from 12.00am to 3pm.
This is a free tennis taster session for both adults and children, members and nonmembers, so you can bring along as many friends and family as you can muster; we'll have spectacular offers available for any new members joining on the day!
We'll be having a go at putting up our gazebo, and if it's windy it's worth coming along just to watch that event alone; last year never had so many committee members had so little success in so long a time in such strong a wind. It didn't help that the instructions blew away as soon as we opened the box and flew off towards Billington, so bring your camera; it could be worth a shot of us all crumpled in a heap in the mud underneath various poles and a hundred square metres of uncomplying white canvass. Anyway, once we do get it up, there'll be lots of fun tennis related games and activities, competitions such as Fastest Serve and Longest Rally against the Coach, free giveaways, tennis equipment and clothes for sale, plus our famous BBQ (small charge applies but there'll be up to 48 menu options)! Our ball machine may make a special appearance too... so come along and have some fun for a few hours, even if just to sit in the sun with a burger and chips (bring your own chips...)
The recent blue skies have encouraged our fair weather players back onto the courts for our social tennis sessions on Sunday mornings and Tuesday evenings. In fact our Tuesday evening session has been extended to run from 6pm to 9pm, so that those who may work late still have the opportunity to come along. Last Sunday morning was a good example as 15 finely honed athletes demonstrated their skills, competitiveness and amazing fitness levels. Then I switched off the rugby, and went down to the courts for some tennis to join a dozen somewhat different looking individuals, but nonetheless equally enjoying a gentle run-around in the sun and hitting a few balls now and then, when one fortuously went anywhere near a racquet. My best effort was a thunderbolt of a backhand that headed straight for the tramlines; unfortunately they were those in Birmingham rather than on the courts. Then I was aced by membership secretary Jon Moon; thinking back I'd had time to make a cup of tea whilst that ball went past me but I still missed it. I made a mental note to work on my reflexes. Well, work on them when I get some.
The summer South Beds league season has started with, I think it's fair to say, mixed results so far. Whilst our Ladies team is performing admirably, the team I represent, the infamous Men's D team, has been less fortunate. Our last outing was to Flitwick and Ampthill where the highlight of the evening was a spectacular tea of crusty baguettes, ham, cheese, pasta salad, coleslaw and tomatoes, all consumed in their clubhouse in the company of their adopted cat 'Hoop'. It certainly made up for our performance on court, where we didn't unduly trouble the scorers. Team captain Glenn Wigley is a great motivator however, and told us we'd all played to the very best of our abilities.
Which unfortunately weren't good enough and so we're all dropped. Well that's what I think he really meant, but he was very nice about it. I look forward to my next callup and promise to do better next time. I really must focus on the tennis part of the evenings, rather than spend my time on court trying to lose as quickly as possible so I can get to the after-match tea and choose the largest piece of baguette.
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, you can visit our website at www.ebltc.org.uk; alternatively contact Bernadette Hillman, Coach Nick Boys, or if they're all out and I'm not having an argument with a gazebo, me, Andy Cross.
Source: Focus, June 2009
'Play Tennis' Day
Saturday 20th June 2009
at Eaton Bray Tennis Club,
School Lane, Eaton Bray
'Play Tennis' day is a FREE tennis taster session for adults and children. There will be lots of fun tennis related games and activities, competitions, free giveaways, tennis equipment and clothes for sale by racketsportsdirect.com, BBQ and much more.
Join the Fun
at Eaton Bray Lawn Tennis Club on School Lane
12noon to 3pm.
Contact Bernadette Hillman
with any questions or queries
Six weeks into our new committee under the rigorous leadership of Madame Bernadette, and already there's a feeling of excitement about all our plans for the coming season.
We come of age this year, as this spring sees the 21st anniversary of that first small gathering of tennis-minded enthusiasts in the Coffee Tavern back in 1988. It's amazing to ponder that our club has been in existence for longer than the Nurseries development, and even the invention of the internet! So with all the positive vibes emitting from our little band of members, we'd love you to share our feelings of optimism this coming year, and come along and join us! Here are a few reasons why you might enjoy some tennis in Eaton Bray...
- Membership fees held at last year's levels. That means a whole family can enjoy a year's tennis for around £10 per month. A junior member pays less for a whole week's playing than the cost of a single Daily Mail - so there's no competition really!
- Three courts - all bookable and accessible by your own personal solid brass key.
- 8 Teams entered in the League this year - with free tea and sandwiches for away matches!
- Floodlights! These magnificent illuminations, allegedly purchased by ex-chairman John Palmer from BHS Homeware in Luton, now allow play 24 hours a day (providing you switch the lights off by 10pm!)
- A dedicated Clubhouse with changing rooms, toilets, tables, chairs and famous wonky cupboard.
- Social playing sessions on Tuesdays and Sundays - everyone made welcome whatever standard.
- Our own dedicated website - www.ebltc.org.uk - with all the latest news and gossip from the club.
- A 'Buddy' system for new members - someone to offer support and encouragement.
- Our own Professional Tennis Coach! An ex-Great Britain player, Nick Boys is available for 1-2-1 or group coaching and specialises in Junior's coaching on Saturday mornings, beginners upwards. No wonder the other South Beds teams quake in their trainers when they see us coming!
- Come and try our Electric Ball Machine! Nick swears by it (and frequently at it...)
- And last but by no means least, a Social Calendar that includes:
- Saturday 11th April: Round Robin competition at the courts, a fun contest with strange rules that most people master within a couple of years, it's just as much fun to watch as to take part!
- Saturday 18th April: Quiz night at the village hall. £8 per person, with the usual excellent food thrown in (not literally).
- Saturday 20th June: Our annual Play Tennis Day. This is a free tennis taster session for both adults and children, members and non-members, so bring along as many friends and family as you can muster; we'll have spectacular offers available for any new members joining on the day! There'll be lots of fun tennis related games and activities, competitions such as Fastest Serve and Longest Rally against the Coach, free giveaways, tennis equipment and clothes for sale, plus our famous BBQ (small charge applies but there'll be up to 48 menu options)! Our ball machine may make a special appearance too... so come along and have some fun for a few hours, even if just to sit in the sun with a burger and chips (bring your own chips...)
More dates to come soon, including our Club Final's Day in September, more Round Robins, and another potential Quiz Night in October.
So there you have at least 11 good reasons to call us to find out more about how to both get fit and enhance your social life all at the same time!
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, you can visit our website at www.ebltc.org.uk; Alternatively contact Bernadette Hillman, Coach Nick Boys, or if they're all out and I'm not having another argument with the ball machine, me, Andy Cross.
Source: Focus, April 2009
They say that 24 hours is a long time in politics.
That may be true, especially if you're a Lib Dem because that means it's been an extraordinarily long time - several hundred thousand years in fact - since David Lloyd George held office, but for us, 2 months is certainly a long time in tennis. Since our last report concerning our Final's Day results, the final positions from last summer's South Beds league were confirmed.
Best performers were our Men's C team who play in Division 4, who finished in 2nd place out of the 7 contenders, and the Mixed A team who finished a very credible 2nd out of 8 in Division2 with 5 victories. Our Men's A team managed 3rd place out of 8 in Division 1 despite winning 6 of their 7 matches, such was the overall high standard of the division. The full final standings were:
|Men's A||1||6||0||1||3 / 8|
|Men's B||2||3||0||3||4 / 8|
|Men's C||4||3||1||2||2 / 7|
|Ladies A||1||2||0||5||4 / 8|
|Mixed A||2||5||0||2||2 / 8|
|Mixed B||2||3||0||3||6 / 8|
|Boys U. 16||2||0||0||5||7 / 7|
These are extremely satisfying results for a small village club in a league which includes big names such as Dunstable, Linslade and Luton & Vauxhall. It was great fun to play such competitive tennis during 2008 against some high quality but very friendly opposition - we always enjoyed a few sarnies with a nice cup of tea and some cake afterwards, no matter who won!* Congratulations to everyone involved in the teams.
Our focus this year will be to bring our younger players up to the same standards, and the coaching team will be working hard at this over the coming months.
So what else has been going on? Well, our membership Secretary Jon Moon has revealed that he has a secret talent which to date has remained known to only very close friends and immediate family. No, not what you're thinking. He can design Web sites, you know, those things that begin 'www' with a few random letters and numbers, which you key in (has to be in the right order or all sorts of things can go wrong) to enter an exciting world of information and entertainment.
Not to be outdone, we commissioned him (one free pint in the pub when it's finished) to develop a site for us, and lo and behold, it's up and running! The things that man will do for a free pint. Take a look at www.ebltc.org.uk and you'll find everything you always wanted to know about the club. See the photo archive page - image number 7 - for a special preview of Peter Hales new patented compact wrist-attached umpire's scoresheet illumination device.
Finally, arrangements were completed for the joint Eaton Bray Village Hall Fund Raising Committee & Eaton Bray Tennis Club 'Food, Humour and Dance' event on Saturday 28th February 2009 in the Village Hall. Our aim is to titillate your palates, make you laugh with our pair of comedians and finish off by getting rid of those extra Christmas calories with dancing to live music. A completely guilt free evening!!
Tickets are just £19; so for more information contact Ross on 01525 221411.
* To avoid libellous action from the Chairman**, when I say 'we', I don't actually include myself in that. Although I did help cut the sandwiches once. 'Cut one, eat one. Cut one, eat one. Cut etc...'
** This relates to last year's Chairman. This year's will be much more understanding!
Following the January AGM a new committee has been formed - full details next month!
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, you can visit our website at www.ebltc.org.uk
Source: Focus, February 2009
Of all the events in all the towns in all the countries, the one that is most anticipated by those fortunate enough to be fully paid up members of Eaton Bray Tennis Club is the annual Chairman's barbecue. This year, as last year (and possibly the one before, I've really lost count of how long Ross has been Chairman) it was held at chez Bagni. A more delightful setting would be hard to imagine; tall yew trees swinging gently in the light breeze sheltering vibrantly colourful fauna borders, pitched against a beautifully manicured lawn (well it was when we arrived...) all in a sizeable L-shaped garden with an enchanting vine-covered pagoda providing a welcome sanctuary for the drinks bar from the sun. I tell you, there's more money in hats than you can imagine. Either that or he disappeared once in a canoe.
So there we all gathered at 2pm one sunny mid-July Saturday afternoon, 28 of us eager to obtain maximum value for money from our £12 ticket, entitling us to a choice of thick steak, succulent chicken or generous vegetarian lunch, a veritable feast of salads, potatoes, pastas and delectable desserts, and 'as much as you can drink' before dusk creeps in and we're all sent home. Everyone was responsible for barbecuing their own food, which caused a little confusion during peak cooking times over whose steak was whose, but most disagreements were settled amicably without resorting to threatening behaviour with a pair of tongs. The highlight, of course, was the liquid refreshment situation, where six different types of lagers and beers languished invitingly submerged in ice in cool boxes; French red and white wine was laid on abundantly, and if you popped inside when Ross and Shelagh were otherwise engaged cleaning up the spilt sherry trifle you'd cleverly arranged as a diversionary tactic, you could help yourself to as much of his malt Laphroig whisky as you liked. Plus there was an extremely smooth vintage brandy, which he kept hidden away for special occasions. If this wasn't a special occasion I don't know what was, so clearly it had to be sampled.
As you'll appreciate, dusk in July comes quite late, so by 8pm several of us had enjoyed more than our fair share of the Chairman's beverage benevolence, and weighing up the options of either staying until it got quite dark and probably falling over on the lawn (with subsequent further damage to said lawn's previously superior appearance), or calling a taxi for the short hop back home, we chose the latter. Some locals stumbled back to their homes with the aid of their satellite navigation systems (that's their wives), but even I was able to calculate that walking back to Dunstable was not really an option, based on the previous trouble some club members had put Dunstable Downs Mountain Rescue to some years before. So bidding our fond farewells to friends old and newfound, we found ourselves sharing a taxi with those very same club members who once spent the night wandering the wildernesses that are the Downs, and we all mutually congratulated ourselves on how sober and sensible we'd been to remember to call a taxi. Or maybe that was our wives too....
Needless to say, the Sunday morning social tennis session was not too well attended that weekend, most members preferring a little lie in and a leisurely breakfast of black coffee and dry toast. I panicked when, whilst pouring a third strong coffee, I glanced out of the kitchen window and noticed with much alarm that someone had stolen my car during the night. It's amazing how quickly you sober up when you realise you have to call the police. Fortunately my wife was able to grab the receiver from my hand before I further embarrassed myself, and quietly reminded me that I'd left it at the Treasurer's house in Eaton Bray when we drove down to the barbecue the previous afternoon. Sure enough, some considerable time later that day, there she was patiently awaiting my return to once more be admired and pampered in the manner to which she had become accustomed. So was the car.
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 replacing divots in the chairman's lawn, me, Andy Cross.
Source: Focus, October 2008
The sun's shining brightly, there's a gentle breeze, the temperature's currently in the mid seventies (or mid twenties if you're one of those new fangled metric modernists), and being a Tuesday afternoon I've decided to head up to the courts to enjoy one of our regular weekly club sessions for an hour or two. I must admit I haven't played for a few weeks, but I've run out of excuses - there's only so many elderly relatives who can unexpectedly pop round at the last minute - and my waistband has subsequently expanded to a level whereby I'm having serious problems inside my shorts. I'm convinced that it's partly due to the move to metric when all the tennis trouser manufacturers messed up the inches to centimetres calculations, and so what I thought was a 38 inch pair of tennis shorts actually turned out to be a 34 inch, or something similar. Anyway with that and my slightly expanded midriff there's no way I can squeeze into these without giving my fellow players a very nasty shock, so it's up into the loft to find the 'fat boy' box into which I triumphantly threw all my larger clothes the last time I managed to lose a few pounds. Hmm, even the loft hatch has contracted since I was last up the stepladder; must be something to do with the central heating. And the ladder's developed a worrying creak too.
Right, ready to go. Nicely decked out in a pair of khaki shorts which spent a previous life as a circus tent, and an old grey t-shirt emblazoned with the slogan 'Glastonbury 1985' Fortunately I don't have any photographs of me from that era, mainly because no-one would risk breaking their cameras and take one. Imagine the big hairy guy from 'Lost' and you're getting near. Throw my racquet in my bag, chuck in a couple of cold cans of Stella for emergency refreshment, and head off.
It turns out perfectly; there are 12 of us, so three sets of doubles. We play the best of five games in each set before mixing ourselves up into different pairs and doing the same again. My partner and I stroll to a five-luv defeat in our opening set, which I was disappointed to find meant a lot of running around, mostly fetching balls that had whizzed past us. It's extremely hot still and I begin to regret leaving my favourite iron lung at home. Determined to put in a better performance in the second set, I find myself paired with one of the club's better players, who's very gracious and kind repeating phrases like 'oh bad luck', 'better luck next time' and 'what the blazes was that?' as he finds himself on the losing end of a set for the first time in several months. Still it was four-one so at least we got a game, I remind him - the one in which I don't think I touched the ball once - which doesn't seem to appease his steely stare towards me. By this time my powers of speech are suspended due to my urgent need to use what little energy I have left, just to breathe. According to my heart monitor I should be in resus. So imagine my delight when a 13th person appears wandering up the path from the car park! They wouldn't want to sit out, would they? No sooner does she pass the clubhouse, I have my racquet packed away, my bag over my shoulder and am dragging myself off court in the general direction of my car in a somewhat haphazard manner due to my legs refusing to go where my brain is pointing them. After all, I don't want anyone else getting any ideas about an early bath! And anyway I'd locked them all in when I shut the court door.
Of course I'll be back. We have a lot of fun both on and off the courts, and no-one minds at all if you're a beginner! You could even pair up with me and teach me a few things!
We have several social playing sessions every week plus coaching, competitions, league matches, and the most amazing ball-machine that has to be seen to be believed. It even has a remote control just like my telly, although my telly doesn't shoot tennis balls at me at 100 mph. Mind you, nor can the ball machine get BBC One, so each to their own. So do give us a call if you'd like to join us, even if just for one session to see if you like it. We'd love to see some new faces up there this summer.
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 having a little rest in my iron lung, me, Andy Cross.
Source: Focus, July 2008
'Play Tennis' Day
Saturday 21st June 2008
at Eaton Bray Tennis Club,
School Lane, Eaton Bray
'Play Tennis' day is a FREE tennis taster session for adults and children. There will be lots of fun tennis related games and activities, competitions, free giveaways, tennis equipment and clothes for sale by racketsportsdirect.com, BBQ and much more.
Join the Fun
at Eaton Bray Lawn Tennis Club on School Lane
12noon to 3pm.
Contact Ross Bagni on 01525 221411
with any questions or queries
OK so I've been rumbled. I admit here and now that maybe I allowed my journalistic juices to run a little out of control in my last article. Let me explain.
When I reported that the lady at the party (to celebrate my homecoming, or the chairman's birthday, I'll let you decide which one it was..) asked me to sign my Focus article for her, she didn't actually say, in as many words, 'Would you please sign this for me'?
What she actually said was more along the lines of, well nothing. It was me who said to her, in a somewhat pleading voice, 'Would you like me to sign that for you'? Or it might have been 'Please please can I sign it for you in front of all those people'? So I did, somewhat lavishly.
I have to reveal the truth this month because a little bird, who was listening in to our conversation, has told the Chairman who in turn has threatened to ban me from public office if I don't say what really happened. So I'm happy to set the record straight, and to assure everyone that I've put a contract out on that bird. No one likes a grass.
The recent heat wave has resulted in a queue to use the tennis courts! Last Sunday morning there were far more players than places available for them to stand (unless you put eight on each court and it gets confusing then, and it's really difficult to keep the score). So we had players sitting out occasionally so that everyone had a chance to play a few games. We'd decided to have a barbecue at the courts that morning, so as our exhausted members crawled off court, heavily perspiring in the baking heat, there was a cool glass of squash and one of my infamous burgers or hot dogs awaiting them!
There was the option of sizzling onions and several tasty sauces to complement the main meal; needless to say once a burger or two had been consumed it soon solved the problem of too many people on the courts. Most participants then just collapsed into a chair and sat in the sunshine watching the die-hards on court one finish their set. It proved a mammoth game, taking nearly an hour for Peter Hale and Ross Bagni to narrowly defeat Jon Moon and Simon Mitchener by six games to four. By then unfortunately all the burgers had been eaten, but there were plenty of onions left over, at which they unceremoniously turned up their noses. Can't please some people...!
The next outing for the barbecue will be on Saturday 21st June at our annual Play Tennis Day, and it's open to everyone to come along and try out some tennis for free.
Running from around 11am, we'll have both Fastest Serve, and Longest Rally Against the Coach competitions. Think I'll blindfold him to give everyone a chance. Racquet Sports Direct will be there with tennis racquets to try out and maybe buy, together with clothes and shoes at discount prices. With half price membership for any new members joining on the day, plus did I mention the barbecue, there can be no better way to spend an hour or two on the 21st. We look forward to seeing as many villagers there as we can squeeze onto the Green!
And finally Cyril. Can I pass on my congratulations to all Portsmouth FC supporters in the villages after I was lucky enough to witness their magnificent FA Cup victory against Cardiff at Wembley? A very well deserved victory, we can be very proud of our club! Oh by the way, if Cardiff won I'm sorry, but I had to get this article in the week before the final. I'm sure it'll all be fine. I did go along to a clairvoyant's convention to try to find out who will win, but it had been cancelled due to unforeseen circumstances.
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 call either Chairman Ross Bagni, Coach Nick Boys, or if they're all out and I'm not banging my drum shouting 'Play Up Pompey', me, Andy Cross using the contact page.
Source: Focus, June 2008
The latest quiz held jointly by the Village Hall fund raisers and the Tennis Club was sold out 3 weeks before the event and I was sitting on a waiting list of 10 good and honest people. Well maybe I should have sold them the tickets and not the team that won! They might not have been as good as them. The net result would have meant that our team came 11th instead of 12th. Well one must think up ways of getting better mustn't one.
It was a great night and our thanks must go to Keith Blackburn who generously gives his time to creating and presenting these quizzes. For all his efforts and our feeble ones in trying to answer the questions over £1,300 was raised on the night. Thanks to all of you who came.Just a reminder; The next quiz is on Saturday 11th October in the Village Hall and the booking office is now open so don't be disappointed, ring Ross on 221411 to book your places!
Source: Focus, June 2008
Everyone has a dream. Some come true, others slowly fade away into oblivion. Such was ours; thanks to the imminent relegation of Luton Town, they can no longer afford to rent our tennis courts and play on our artificial Subbuteo pitches. I was only sent two anyway and one of those had beer stains on it. No one bought a plank, our grandstand builder has vanished (VAT issues I think...) and I've had to walk home from the Cayman Islands having spent all my spare dosh on one last rum and coke. So bringing league football to Eaton Bray will have to remain a dream. Always optimistic though, I've put a letters in the post to the London Wasps and Inter Milan (with a few Euros) so we'll see what comes of that...
My homecoming caused much excitement, and a huge party was thrown for me at the Village Hall. To keep it a surprise from me, the Chairman booked it under the pseudonym of his hur-humphth birthday party (I'm not allowed to say which one but it wasn't his 59th or 61st). Whilst entertaining some party-goers I'd cleverly manoeuvred into a corner so I could regale them with interesting stories of my secret assignment in the Caribbean, I was approached by a lady I didn't recognise. Now this usually starts alarm bells ringing due to past experiences, but as she wasn't dressed as a policewoman I acknowledged her, at which point she reached into her handbag and extracted a folded photocopy of my last Focus article. Having introduced herself as Lesley, a founder member of our tennis club back in 1988, she proceeded to ask me to sign the article. My first ever autograph! My cornered partygoers looked on in awe (or something resembling disbelief) as I gave her my full attention and commenced a detailed narrative history of the last fifteen years of my involvement on the committee.
I'd only got to 1997 when she excused herself to attend to a 'personal matter' and I never saw her again. I expect the excitement of obtaining my signature had overwhelmed her; same for the other people I was talking to as they'd gone too. The band played 'I Think We're Alone Now' and I danced with myself.
I don't believe I've reported yet on our other recent moment of fame? A few weeks ago, Eaton Bray Tennis Club was the answer to the third clue on BBC Three Counties Radio 'Treasure Quest' programme where studio contestants have to solve clues to guide their intrepid reporter, Victoria (aka 'Cookie') around various locations in the county to find the treasure. This week there was a sporting theme, and after several false starts, the clue 'Old Macdonald's place by the river. Can you hear a donkey make a racket'? was successfully found to be our club! There were 12 of us playing as the reporter arrived, running breathlessly from the car park, followed at some distance by a huffing and puffing soundman carrying most of Dixons on his back. We hid her fourth clue in a bucket of tennis balls, which we asked her to hit over the net (with my new racquet!) until she uncovered the clue. She was pretty good in fact and asked what happened if she got all ten balls over. 'If you get ten balls over', quipped John Palmer of dodgy umpiring fame, 'then you're in the first team'!
Having successfully found the next clue, which was something about local leisure centres, Cookie turned her attention to me and thrust a microphone in my face as I was unexpectedly interviewed about the club, live on air! To say I was a tad nervous is a huge understatement, but as this is our 20th anniversary year, it was a good opportunity for a 'plug' about what we do, both socially and on the courts, especially in the wonderful sunny weather that adorned our three new courts that morning. She then scurried off with her heavily laden soundman in pursuit, in search of the next clue, leaving us to enjoy our tennis and bask in our newfound fame within the three counties.... I did drop her a note asking if there were any top media jobs going at Three Counties, but I guess she's been too busy to get back to me. So I put 'On the Radio' by Martine McCutcheon on continuous loop on the CD player and danced with myself....
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 call either Chairman Ross Bagni, Coach Nick Boys, or if they're all out and I'm not presenting News at Ten, me, Andy Cross.
Source: Focus, May 2008
Dear Mr Chairman,
As requested, here is my weekly report from the Cayman Islands. As you'll remember, you sent me here last month 'for tax purposes' to await the arrival by air-mail of 7,000 Subbuteo pitches and around a hundred grand in used tenners. As I recline in the shade beneath a coconut tree on the white sandy beach sipping a rum and coke, I have to report that, to date, we are substantially short on the pitch front having received just two, one from my mother who found a reasonable second-hand one at a car boot sale in Solihull, and one from a Mr Robin Banks of London who included a ransom note demanding a million pounds or he'd 'spill the beans' about our builder's VAT situation. I've stitched the two pitches together (I could only get red cotton) and will send them to you, so if we don't get any more then just try to stretch them a bit over the courts. We'll just have to make do with a red half way line, but as Luton never get over it anyway, it shouldn't be a problem.
Money-wise, things aren't a lot better. Apart from trying to find a million quid to send to Mr Banks, I've received no tenners at all. Did you give everyone the right name? The big fat bloke in the next deckchair keeps getting loads of well-stuffed envelopes brought to him on silver platters by the waiting staff. I think his name's Max or something because the locals keep saying to him 'how are you Max, well?' Then he laughs, mutters something about a fake body near the Canaries, and raises his glass of champagne toasting some pension funds. All very strange, I think he's deluded. So please make sure some come to me because so far I'm spending all my own money, and it's not cheap being an excommunicated communications officer, this rum's pricey I can tell you.
Whilst I remember, please make sure that everyone knows about the Quiz Night on Saturday 26th April, which we're hosting with the Village Hall Fundraising Committee. I think you've still got some tickets available. Also there's the BBQ and social tennis up at the courts on Sunday 11th May morning where, again, everyone is invited to come along to see what we're all about. Finally please promote the infamous Gazebo construction demonstration during our Play Tennis Day on Saturday 21st June. Again with BBQ providing I get home in time. I still think it was a tad stingy of the club just to get that one-way ticket, and having to travel as hold luggage in that cage with the six amorous skunks wasn't the best way to start an assignment. Good job you got me a 'room' near the sea so I could bathe easily; so easily in fact I didn't even have to get out of bed, the tide just came in.
Still it's a nice hole in the sand, and I'm thinking of making a roof out of palm tree leaves to keep the seagulls out.
Anyway I must sign off as 'Max' has just received another parcel and I'm going to ask him for a loan to pay off Mr Banks and secure another week's worth of rum and cokes. Then I've got to chop a palm tree down, post off the Subbuteo pitches and go for another swim to remove the latest seagull messages. After that I'll need a rest so if you need me I'll be in my hole, just ask for me at the hotel, most of the waiters know the hole because that's where they throw the kitchen leftovers.
Speaking of which - lunch has arrived! I just need to scrape the wet sand and congealed gravy off last night's sea bass. Yummy!
Thank you again for the opportunity to serve you and the club so loyally, I remain,
Your obedient servant
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 call either Chairman Ross Bagni, Coach Nick Boys, or if they're all out and I've not been thrown into a Cayman jail for subversive money laundering, me, Andy Cross.
Source: Focus, April 2008
As the nights progressively draw in, the less hardy members of our club (including myself) are sometimes less inclined to venture outside in the dark damp evenings for a set or two of tennis, and more disposed to sitting in front of the fire with a warming brew and the dulcet tones of Bruce 'nice to see you' Forsyth blaring from the TV set as he once again tells the couple, with a celebratory possessing the dancing skills of a pregnant warthog, that they are his favourites. So in order to entice a few of these lounge-lovers onto the courts, we organised a 'Round Robin' tournament last week and were delighted that 12 members turned out on what was actually a rather nice afternoon, and we only had to pay 7 of them. For those not in the know of such colloquial tennis terms, a 'round robin' involves games of doubles where everyone plays with everyone else in rotation, swapping partners after 4 games (tennis partners, not what you're thinking) and keeps count of their own scores as to how many games they have won. It's all quite simple after you've played in a few hundred competitions, but fortunately there's always someone there who nearly understands it, so by the end of an afternoon's play punctuated by cries such as 'who swaps with whom?', 'is it sudden death deuce?' and 'ouch that hurt' a winner was decided and awarded the usual lavish prize of a bottle of cheap plonk. As befits tradition, the last placed player also receives a special consolatory prize, so at least I went home with something.
As Focus goes to press, I'm delighted to bring 'hold the front page' news about last night's Quiz night held in our clubhouse. It's not known as the Tardis for nothing; from the outside one would never imagine that any more than 32 people could be 'reasonably' comfortably seated inside, but blow me down if we didn't have 33 people including quizmaster Keith Blackburn ensconced. Let me tell you about Keith; although he's never made the same big time as brother Tony (and therefore never munched on tsetse fly larvae in the jungles of Australia) he does put together a rather excellent quiz, and would make a welcome fellow passenger on a long haul flight to that same country, as he can keep one amused for hours, nay days, on fascinating trivia to prevent you from falling asleep and therefore making a complete hash of adapting to the vastly different time zone. 'Who invented NASA?' and 'What decade was Zinc' might have been 2 of the questions, but I may have got those mixed up, as I did most of the answers. My team, '4 Js and an A', consisted of myself (the 'A') plus four others whose names began with a 'J'; quite clever we thought, but no bonus points. I can reveal that three of the four were a Jane, a Jan and a John, but the fourth member has begged anonymity which I have to respect (thanks for the fiver J*nny, 29). Up until the last round, we were level pegging with Chairman Ross's team "One overly loud Italian and his long suffering wife (Shelagh 'where's me mini') plus a couple of hangers-on".
The last round was critical. Could we make up the two points required to overtake them and prevent another six months of insufferable smugness? It all hinged on the last question; 'Which three small islands in the British Isles issues their own postage stamps?'. 'One overly loud' etc went for Jersey, Guernsey and the Isle of Man, whilst I, as chief scribe, was persuaded to note down the Isle of Wight, Isle of Dogs and Isla St Clair. Inevitably we were pipped at the post and our Chairman delighted in handing out to his team their much deserved prizes of quality wine, one of which my wife and I had donated, so at least one of them will have a shock when they open that at their next dinner party. Home made is always the most enjoyed, I find, and Goldfish wine has to be savoured at almost freezing to be fully appreciated, although we didn't make that clear on the bottle notes. Thinking about it, we missed out any reference to the goldfish either. Probably best though after all the media trouble last time, although the guinea-pig fruit cake has since proved a gastronomic success at our local market cake stall in Dunstable. Call for further details, but leave it a couple more months until my release date.
Source: Focus, December/January 2008
Another mammoth month for EBLTC: Our third court is painted and in use, our club Final's day saw some amazing wins, a joint Quiz night with the Village hall committee raised over £700 for the club, and our membership has risen again to almost 150, the highest ever in our 19 year history. That's now one member for every 17 villagers, so yes we are slowly taking over the village and at this rate we aim for world domination by next summer (if we get one). We might need a bigger clubhouse though, and I hope Hines can ramp up to supply that many burgers for our barbecues.
The sun shone brightly on our club Final's day, the culmination of several months of knock-out rounds, and the aforementioned barbecue sizzled succulently as once more our 48 menu options were hungrily devoured by players and supporters alike. I'm not sure that Darren Kerins should have had 3 burgers and a hotdog before going on court to play his Men's singles final, but clearly the calories counted as he beat Kevin Todd to take his 10th singles title and incredibly his 20th title overall including 5 men's doubles and 5 mixed doubles over the years. Kevin took revenge later though, winning his 7th Men's Doubles title when he partnered Peter Hill to overcome Darren and Martin Clarke. Jenny Baines closed in on Darren's total by defeating Rebecca Garrard in the Ladies Singles to take her 11th title, and in so doing matched the previous club record for a lady held by Jenny Moore. Jenny's husband Wayne has 12 titles and is 2nd overall in the club. In the Ladies Doubles Jane Cross and Val Abercrombie got the better of Jane Wigley and Danielle Tansley to take their 'title totals' to 8 and 4 respectively, whilst in the final senior match, the Mixed Doubles, Jane Cross made it 9 titles and Peter Hill claimed his 2nd by taking victory over Janet Hale and Simon Mitchener.
We also enjoyed 2 fascinating Junior competitions; the Under 10s culminated in Isaac Gordon just overcoming Jacob Shooter to take the cup. In the Over 10s, William Peck narrowly beat Alison Lowe in a closely fought match; definitely 2 potential stars for the future. I wonder if one of them will eventually overtake Darren's total of 20 titles? Not if I get there before them, but then I still need my first and I haven't entered for about 5 years and I don't have a forehand and I'm 35 years older than them but where there's hope there's a way. Oh did I mention my weight?
The Quiz night held jointly with the Village Hall committee was another resounding success with 155 people organised into strangely named teams, competing against one another to answer peculiar questions such as 'what is sturnutation'? and 'name the land-locked countries of South America'? The answers got progressively harder as the evening progressed on an exponential scale with the amount of 'bring your own drink' consumed. By round 8 after a wholesome paté and salad dinner, most of my team had trouble even seeing the quizmaster let alone understanding the questions, and we even got 'what time is news at ten?' wrong, and nobody knew 'in the 1976 Irish sheepdog trials, how many dogs were found guilty'? Nonetheless, we came a credible 9th equal (out of 10 I think) so went home happy, not surprising based on the empties we left in the recycling bag. Oh and apparently the answers to the above were 'Sneezing', 'Bolivia', 'Paraguay', '10pm' and 'all of them', but not necessarily in that order.
Finally we'd like to thank the Village Fete committee for taking pity on us after our over-easy 'tennis ball through-the-hole' stall (and all my subsequent moaning) and donating £100 to the club. Thank you, it was much appreciated. We'll spend it on some decent prizes for next time, and a new box with a smaller hole. Or bigger balls, or possibly all three. Or maybe we'll all just go to the pub.
Source: Focus, November 2007
As I write this one Sunday morning, I just don't know which channel to watch. BBC1 for the European football qualifiers, ITV for the Rugby World Cup and Formula One Grand Prix, Sky for the Tennis US Open or ITV4 (or is it 5 or 6?) for the Cricket. I'm sitting in front of my telly in a state of confusion; smoke pouring from my remote control due to over-exertion of the programme buttons, empty cans of SkolsbergCarlbrau carelessly surrounding my armchair, and my England flag flopping aimlessly from the curtain rail. Let's face it, the possibilities of England winning, or even featuring in the finals of any of these events is slightly less than the chances of my daughter's guinea-pig designing and building a spaceship, launching from our back garden beside the potted bamboo, and becoming the first rodent on Mars (after Anne Robinson). So, with no hope of a national victory (with the possible exception of the Formula One Championship if Lewis can 'sort out' Monsignor Alonso) I decided to switch off the box and get down to the tennis courts in order to motivate my fellow Sunday morning social players to bigger and better things, so that one day we may once again stand proudly at the top of the world tennis mountain.
Unfortunately it wasn't to be. Our club is blessed with several top class players (I'm too modest to count myself amongst them) but the motley crowd of eight that gathered this morning to take on the elements and one-another were not part of that elite group.
The top people were apparently watching the cricket. So with goodwill and brave hearts, we set to the task of splitting ourselves into pairs and commencing battle. Now lets look at the day-jobs of these eight people, We had a hat seller, an X-ray equipment seller, a Construction Material Testing engineer, a retired Vulcan and Easy jet pilot, a Silverlink train driver, a Cambridge graduate, an office worker and an about to be student. But bring these together with the single objective of winning the best of five games and all day-jobs fade into oblivion. Victory is the one and only objective! Such an example was when one of my superbly executed topspin lobs landed clearly right-on our opponent's baseline, only for it to be called 'out' by my opposite number.
Now this is a man who back in 1982 (even when he had much better eyesight and a co-pilot to boot) couldn't hit a runway 2 miles long and 300 feet wide over Port Stanley, so what chance has he of calling a ball in or out over a 27-foot line just an inch wide? The hat-seller agreed with me, but the train driver sided with the pilot (must be some sort of transport union) so the point was replayed whereupon I served a double fault to settle the matter unequivocally. Moral of the story? Always play against the Student because you can threaten to tell their parents about the latest scratch on their car, and hence take away their allowance if they don't award you the point. Firm but fair I'm sure you'd agree.
Almost finally, some good news about our recent accomplishments. Our third court has just completed its resurfacing programme at a cost of around £18,000. We have received £2,000 from the Flagship Fund towards this through South Beds District Council, along with a grant of £1,920 from the Local Network Fund, both for which we are extremely grateful. Now we are now one of the few lucky clubs in Bedfordshire to have three brand new courts all with floodlighting, and a growing membership ishing to avail themselves of the facilities (1 in every 19 villagers, remember...).
To end on, many congratulations to Junior member Alison Lowe, who took a magnificent runners up place in the Beds County Mini Tennis Green competition under 10's. This is a major feat as there were some excellent youngsters from clubs all over Bedfordshire competing, and we should all congratulate Alison on her achievement. No pressure Alison, but Wimbledon starts in eight months time... J
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 locked in the bathroom sulking about the latest dodgy line call, me, Andy Cross.
Source: Focus, October 2007
Next 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
Anyone for tennis? Over 100 people braved the showers to attend the launch of Eaton Bray's new tennis courts.
Free taster sessions were available on the resurfaced courts, which cost £35,000, partly funded by donations from Sports and Arts Foundation and the local Network Fund. Local MP Andrew Selous had a few games and later officially opened the courts.
The event, in School Lane, was arranged as part of the National Lawn Tennis Association's Play Tennis days.
Club members rallied to provide a barbecue for hungry tennis players and 26 new members signed up on the day making it their most successful single recruitment event ever.
The club netted a National Lottery grant four years ago which helped to build a clubhouse with excellent facilities and also install floodlights on two of the courts.
A third court will be re-surfaced later this year at a cost of £18,000, "so the fund-raising continues" said club member Andy Cross.
Source: Leighton Buzzard Observer, 26 June 2007
It's that time of year again. With Wimbledon on the horizon, tennis clubs up and down the country are braced for a couple of weeks of mayhem as budding Tim Henmans and Andy Murrays queue up to hone their skills.
And Eaton Bray Tennis Club is no different. On Saturday (16th June) there's going to be a free taster session for adults and children, and South West Beds MP Andrew Selous is due to be there to officially opening the new courts at the top of School Lane, Eaton Bray, at midday.
There will also be a barbecue, tennis equipment sale and tennis-related games.
The event runs from 11.30am to 3pm.
Source: Dunstable Gazette, 13 June 2007
'Play Tennis' Day
Saturday 16th June
at Eaton Bray Tennis Club, School Lane, Eaton Bray
'Play Tennis' day is a FREE tennis taster session for adults and children. There will be lots of fun tennis related games and activities, competitions, free giveaways with Chiltern Radio, tennis equipment and clothes for sale by PWP, official opening ceremony for new courts by local MP Andrew Sealous (midday), BBQ and much more.
Join the Fun
at Eaton Bray Lawn Tennis Club on School Lane
11.30am to 3pm
Contact Ross Bagni on 01525 221411
with any questions or queries
Source: Focus, June 2007
I'd like to commence this month with a top tip for all your shoppers who find parking charges prohibitive at big shopping centres like, for example, Milton Keynes. My thanks go to one eminent club member for recounting the following true story regarding how to get free parking for three days in a two hour parking bay. This member, who for legal reasons had best remain nameless (I can't afford a good lawyer, or even a bad one for that matter), parked her car at Sainsbury's in Milton Keynes last Friday whilst she nipped in to purchase a few essentials for husband R....oh gosh nearly gave it away. Once finished she popped into another couple of shops before returning via a different route to Sainsbury's to find her car gone. Vanished into thin air, disappeared, missing, departed, in fact, assumed stolen. Police were alerted, insurance companies contacted and claims lodged, CCTV camera footage studied, witness statements taken, and a full scale Missing Mini alert launched (oh no, there I go again, that rules out all non-Mini owners).
Our member was distraught; not only had her car been nicked but she'd left her very expensive Gucci sunglasses in the glovebox. And worse of all, she had to call her husband, break the news and ask him to come and pick her up in his Cit....(oh good just stopped myself).
Exhaustive enquiries continued over the weekend with the police diverting all available resources into tracking down the exclusive gold Mini (oh heck). By Monday morning they were running out of ideas when they received a phone call from Sainsbury's along the lines of 'There's this car been abandoned in our car park, could you come and take it away please'. They duly arrived and were clearly delighted to discover the 'missing' Mini, which had evidently been sitting in the same car-parking space since the previous Friday, un-moved and very definitely un-stolen. Yes, when our member had returned to find her car, she'd been looking in the wrong car-park!! To say she was a little embarrassed is like saying that Jose Mourinho is a little shy. Oh how the police sighed with relief and smiled about it. MI5 were stood down and the insurance company's claims team were re-deployed. As for our member, all's well that ends well; she got her car back, plus her sunglasses, and as a bonus three days free parking and she didn't even lose her no-claims discount! Apparently her other half was very good about it all and there was absolutely no barney (uh oh that's torn it .... do EasyJet fly to Brazil)??
Following our Spring Dance (see last month's report on the drumming) we followed up in April with a joint Quiz Night with the Village Hall committee. Over 170 people across 20 teams tried to answer questions on subjects from the symbol for the chemical element Barium, to the birthyear of George II. Or was it the III, or it may have been the year of his death, but by then it was all a bit of a blur. We stopped after four rounds to enjoy a magnificent cheese and pate platter provided for each table together with crusty bread, and supped some more beer and wine from our cooler bags. I was seconded to a team who couldn't think of a suitable name, so we appropriately called ourselves 'The Team with No Name'. The second half of the evening saw us rapidly climb up the scoreboard as we sailed through the Sports and Geography rounds thanks mainly to a very intelligent dentist in our ranks, aided by a bank manager who knew the currency of Azerbaijan (1 manat = 100 qapik, in case you ever need to order any), and by some miracle after the full eight rounds we found ourselves overall winners by half a point! We accepted our prizes of bottles of wine with gusto and determined to keep them away from our chairman who was eyeing them with more than a passing interest. The evening raised around £750 each for both the Village Hall committee and our tennis club, and everyone seemed to have a good time as well, so look out soon for booking details for the next Quiz on 5th October. 170 people can't be wrong!
Finally, see the advert in Focus this month for our Play Tennis Day on Saturday 16th June. Chiltern Black Thunder, Andrew Selous MP, free tennis, competitions, and my famous BBQ. Don't miss it!
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 Barney Bagni, Coach Nick Boys, or if they're all out and I'm not fighting extradition from Sao Paulo, me, Andy Cross.
Source: Focus, June 2007
It's official - the Chiltern FM Black Thunder is coming to Eaton Bray!! After months of secret negotiations, wheeling and dealing, ducking and diving, I can reveal that the famous Thunder complete with crew of two from Chiltern FM will be joining us for a couple of hours at our Play Tennis Day at the School Lane courts on Saturday 16th June. From midday they'll be handing out freebies and joining in with the various tennis activities, whilst playing all our favourite tracks of the moment, hopefully something for everyone. Together with the free playing and coaching, games, competitions, equipment and clothing sale, BBQ, local MP Andrew Selous and half price membership for anyone joining on the day, it promises to be a day to remember, so do come up and join us and meet the Chiltern Black Thunder crew!
Talking of days to remember, our recent Spring Dance at the village hall was certainly an evening to remember. Tables covered with crisp white tablecloths and festooned with yellow and green helium balloons and ribbons, hosted over 100 people who enjoyed a scrumptious dinner, after which we were all treated to the largely '60s sound of Jim Balls and his Racquets (or is it Jim Racquets and his Balls, I can never remember..) who relentlessly strummed their way through virtually every recording featuring loud drumming that EMI ever produced. They made an exceptionally brave attempt at Oasis's 'Champagne SuperNova', and encouraged by the fact that no-one left, had a crack at U2s 'With or Without You' before moving mercifully back into their comfort zone of some more loud drumming. Nonetheless, the dance floor remained practically full for most of the evening so hats off to Jim and his band, they do know how to play a good gig ! A raffle followed a brief break in the drumming, during which the Chairman's wife won first prize (always happens; I think next time we'll just deliver the top prize to their house beforehand to save the hassle of bringing it down to the hall), before it was back to Jim's big band to close off the evening with some nice romantic slow numbers, with lots of drumming.
I can't close this week without mentioning that stalwart of British tennis, Greg Rusedski, who announced his retirement from the professional sport this week. He spent 12 years playing for Great Britain and reached a career best of being ranked number 4 in the world, as well as holding the fastest serve record for some years at 149mph, only recently beaten by Andy Roddick. Clearly our own Roy Cook's serve has never been officially measured on our courts, because that would certainly take the new record; I'd estimate his first serve must reach over 500mph but unfortunately they very rarely go in, and his second serve is around 4mph, so if you manage to avoid being hit by his first serve, which would almost certainly be the end of you, then you can watch him play his second serve, nip off for a cup of tea in the clubhouse, take the dog for a walk around the field and meander back to the court all in time to see the ball lethargically approaching the point where you may have to consider hitting it back. Games with Roy aren't rapid affairs. Mind you, my second serve is even slower, and we're purposely kept apart in the competitions because of the requirement to finish a game in the same week in which it was started.
For those interested in trivia, the longest singles match in recorded tennis history took place at the 2004 French Open when Fabrice Santoro defeated Arnaud Clement 6-4; 6-3; 6-7; 3-6; 16-14. The match lasted for 6 hours and 35 minutes of actual play, and was spread over 2 days due to it getting dark at the end of the first day!
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 Chairman Ross Bagni.
Source: Focus, May 2007
First this month, a date for your diary. Saturday 16th June. Mark it in now, as that's when we'll be holding our Play Tennis Day at the School Lane courts. As part of the Lawn Tennis Association promotion to encourage more people to take up the sport, we'll be starting off around midday with free playing and coaching for everyone, with special sessions for the youngsters, and you don't even need your own racquet as we can lend you one! There'll be games and competitions, tennis clothing and equipment for sale, the ubiquitous tasty BBQ, and as I write we are in secret negotiations with Chiltern Radio to come along! We'll keep you informed on that one, as they haven't answered my e-mail yet! Plus, our local MP Andrew Selous will attend from midday for 45 minutes to try his hand at tennis against some lucky volunteers, and to officially open our resurfaced courts. Finally, there's half price membership for anyone who joins on the day! So please do come up and join us for an hour or two, and enjoy some good company, hopefully some sunshine, (it's bound to be typically English summer weather, i.e. rainy with sunny intervals, or sunny with rainy intervals), a burger or two and some gentle exercise on the tennis courts (maybe have that burger afterwards...). I'll have to make sure they're properly cooked - I could go to the tower for attempting to poison a Member of Parliament.
The onset of spring has thrown me a challenge. Over the previous few months, on a Sunday morning I've been able to peek through my bedroom curtains and persuade myself that it's either too wet / cold / foggy / dark / slippery or even too cloudy to go up to our Sunday morning social tennis sessions. This has given me the perfect excuse to dive back under my duvet and begin the traditional ritual of 'discussing' with my wife who's turn it is to get the coffee. I normally lose, and such were my expectations last Sunday when I nosed through the window at about 9am. Quelle Horreur, as they say in Germany. The sun was shining brightly. Not a cloud in the sky. The birds were singing and next door's cat was sunbathing on top of the guinea-pig hutch. I was all out of excuses, it was now or never. I slipped into my tennis shorts (which once again had shrunk over the winter months), donned my XXL t-shirt, which I really should have put in for washing after my last appearance on court back in September, collected my racquet from the back of the shed where it had been thrown in disgust after that last defeat, and drove to the courts to find that 12 other people had had the same idea. There was no getting out of it; I was going to have to play some tennis.
I must admit to being a tad rusty; in fact 12 gallons of WD40 wouldn't have helped me much, but at least I could still hit the ball most of the time. My serving was, lets say, unique, but not as weird as my first opponent Martin Clark, who's self-taught technique caused the ball to travel three sides of a square before it finally plopped down on my side of the court. I think it was all that running around back and forth, left and right, trying to return his serve that set off the alarm on my heart monitor, whereupon I decided that a nice sit down was called for, whilst everyone else discussed the next pairings for the subsequent set. I began to wish I hadn't left my iron lung at home. By a quirky chance of good fortune I was paired with a lady called Claire, whose day job is a paramedic.
I felt a wave of relaxation drift over me as I served off in the next game knowing that if I did keel over at any point then at least there was help close by; I was sure she'd have at least a defibrillator in her tennis bag, plus a wide variety of additional highly technical life-saving equipment, and probably knew a very quick way to the L&D although how she'd have got me in the back of her sports car I'm not sure.
Fortunately I saw out the rest of the morning without incident, and can thoroughly recommend our Sunday sessions as a way to blow away those winter cobwebs. If I can survive it, then so can you!
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 call either Chairman Ross Bagni, Coach Nick Boys, or if they're all out and I'm not giving myself a medical, me, Andy Cross.
Source: Focus, April 2007
I haven't had much time to concentrate on my normal duties over the last few weeks due to the enormous number of planning meetings I have had to attend following our development strategy for the School Lane courts and bringing Wimbledon to Eaton Bray. Apparently there's a potential issue with School Lane not being quite wide enough for the envisaged dual carriageway. No problem however, as Servya's newly appointed American architect U. Kanbe-Zerious Jnr has slipped a few dollars to the Parish Council for a new floodlit footpath between the White Horse and the Five Bells (with refreshment points along the way) and we're assured all will be OK; limited housing demolishment will be required along School Lane (you'll get a few quid and a bit of bog-land in Kazakhstan) and the central reservation will include a fully equipped motorway service station complete with Q8 petrol, beef and salami sandwiches (half price on Wednesdays) and a Travelodge for those visitors who wish to enjoy the magnificent facilities on offer in Eaton Bray without the requirement to limit the night out to just two bottles of Smirnov and a pot of Stroganoff with sprouts.
With regard to our recent improvements, I am obliged, nay delighted to offer out thanks and appreciation to the Foundation for the Sports and the Arts who contributed magnificently to our new courts and fencing. I don't think they know about the forementioned 'enhancements' with our Eastern European colleagues, so best not to mention them if someone from that organisation happens to knock on your door one day for a chat and a cup of tea. Just say that everything is in hand and ask them to call John Prescott who took a personal interest in our planning application; I have no explanation for why two Jaguars were parked outside our Chairman's house for most of November, but who am I to ask. I just write the articles and generally get sued afterwards, but I've played tennis with Tony Blair so there. And anyone who disputes that, just read Focus back in the late 90s sometime. That was a great report; political misunderstandings, wrongly-called line faults, our chairman being arrested by the flying squad, straightjackets, all night court sittings, oh what a weekend that was. And we're still here to tell the tale, albeit mostly about prison food, and some bloke called 'Lucky Bunny' which he probably was but our chairman certainly wasn't.
The Winter League has commenced and Eaton Bray is doing fine so far- our Men's team have beaten, no thrashed, Slip End (I'm sure they'll improve once their M1 bridge has been widened) and we expect to continue our magnificent results in this year's summer league where we were presented with no less than three trophies at the awards ceremony in October at the Luton & Vauxhall club. We collectively took over two tables and left all other clubs in no doubt as to which club was the rising star in 2006! So why not come and join us for what promises to be an 'Absolutely Fabulous' 2007, commencing with a Valentine's Dance at the village hall on Saturday 10th February, starring the 'Best UK Live band in 2006 (Eaton Bray South of High Street section) Jim Balls and his Racquets (don't ask…) who served us well last year. Served us… get it? Oh never mind, just join us on the night!!
Finally, congratulations to club coach Nick Boys and his wife Karen who have recently become the proud parents of Daisy Elizabeth. Mother and daughter are doing well; husband is running around like a headless chicken. Mind you, don't all us new fathers do the same?!
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 'where've I put that baby?' Boys, or if they're all out and I'm not at a planning meeting, me, Andy Cross.
Source: Focus, December/January 2007
Just 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
It has been a truly remarkable summer at our Tennis Club. Bearing in mind our size - we have just over 100 members around half of whom are regular players - we have achieved fantastic success in the South Bedfordshire summer league by winning definitely 3 and possibly 4 league titles! I say possibly 4 as there are some 'irregularities' to be clarified in the Men's division 3 league which I can't discuss or the authorities will have to shoot me (they make the recent Italian football scandal look like a tea party, however I can confirm that our club is totally 'clean'...) but we may well take that title too for our Men's B team, so for the record those that we have certainly won include:
- Men's division 1 with our Men's 'A' team of Nick Boys, Darren Kerins, Michael Tatham and Kevin Todd.
- Men's division 4 with our Men's 'C' team squad of David Arnold, Ross Bagni, Roy Cook, Simon Mitchener, Alan Painter, Danny Sunderland, David Hillman and Keith Hillman
- Ladies Division 2 with our Ladies team squad of Val Abercrombie, Jenny Baines, Jane Cross, Olga Davison, Lynn Dorman and Carol Karnon.
Bearing in mind the quality of some of the opposition in the big clubs like Luton & Vauxhall, Dunstable, and Leighton Buzzard, this is a tremendous achievement for our village club and we are justifiably very proud. Congratulations to all who organised, participated, prepared the teas and supported the teams. There's not many tennis clubs around who can claim such a record AND have the social appetite that we do. And you can still join us for the rest of this season at some amazingly good prices, just call one of us for more information or pop round to my house with a brown envelope stuffed full of fivers and I'll do the rest. Trust me I'm a salesman.
By the time you read this, work on our new courts will be well underway by local company Complete Tennis Service, and we're very grateful to all those who have contributed towards this £35,000 project, to include new fencing; we're saving up to get it electrified to keep out the rif-raf.
Thanks to Ross and Judy on the committee who single-handedly (or double backhandedly) provoked various organisations into giving us grants of over £5,000, to the South Bedfordshire District Council 'More Active' Grant Scheme who donated £270, to Roger Bowden for donating his Wimbledon ticket, and to all members who took out extended memberships at inflation busting rates, all of whom have enabled this project to happen. Floodlights, new courts, winning leagues, barbeques at any excuse, quiznights, dances ... can any other organisation offer so much to so many for so little? Hold on I missed out the 'so few'. Oh I'm too tired now, you'll have to add that in for yourselves at an appropriate point.
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 call either Chairman Ross Bagni, Coach Nick Boys, or if they're all out and I'm not doing a barbeque, me, Andy Cross.
Source: Focus, October 2006
As I write this in early June, the weather is turning from several weeks of solid tennis-spoiling rain to some good old court-inducing sunshine. Out of interest, after the third week of non-stop rain and hail and the inevitably consequential hosepipe ban, I reluctantly took the advice of Three Valleys Water and invested in a water butt. It took four weeks to arrive due to 'excessive demand' for the Slimline version (a bit like me). By the time DHL turned up with it, we’d had another four weeks of downpours, and I was looking forward to enjoying seeing it fill to capacity within hours. As co-incidentally it had stopped raining the day it arrived, I ventured outside with instructions and a hammer, installed the thing using a rather nifty device to my downflow drainpipe, and returned indoors to await the next storm. What’s happened? Not a drop since. Eighty degrees and blue skies for over a week now. My butt’s as dry as a bone. A dormouse is using it as a sauna. I’ll have to hose it down to stop it cracking up. Oh I can’t, there’s a hosepipe ban. I’ll use the water from the water butt. Oh there’s none in it. Catch 22. I’ve been done.
Sorry back to tennis things. The sun was there shining brightly on the evening of 31st May for our ‘Play Tennis’ event. Over 60 people, half of them youngsters, came along to the courts to enjoy some shots and a spot of coaching from Nick Boys and other press-ganged willing volunteers like John Jones and Mike Abercrombie. Some sat and watched over a cup of tea (or at least that’s what we told Ross was in the cups), some brought their own picnics and chairs and made an evening of it, but everyone, and I mean everyone, wanted one of my deliciously tasty sausages or burgers made from the finest ingredients by Hines butchers, cooked to perfection over searing hot coals, served in a fresh bun or roll with a choice of fried onions and several accompanying sauces, presented in an England flag type napkin with a friendly smile from my lovely assistants Jane Hosey and Lorraine Stonelake. And all for only a pound you know. You couldn’t get a daytrip to Bangor for that these days. For the first time ever, we sold out! Fruitless cries of ‘more sausages Mr Chairman’ went unheeded. Overall it was an excellent evening which was a lot of fun, and has encouraged half a dozen new members to join our merry throng!
Last month we held an Indoor games night in the Village Hall which proved very popular by becoming more confusing as the evening wore on. One hundred people were divided into teams named after pubs and competed against one another in games such as shove ha’penny, skittles and bar skittles, Quoits, Bung Hole, and Roll a Penny to name a few. The committee, one of whom was stationed at each game as adjudicator, were trained and drilled on the rules of each game by Judy Venn, and the rules of the scoring system by Chairman Ross, which proved far more complicated than the games themselves. The affect of a pint or two on the adjudicators didn’t help the matter and by half time during the excellent fish and chip supper, there was much frantic running around by those committee members still able to run (or even walk) to try to determine which team was in which position. So we had a raffle to give us some more time to try and work it out. By the end of the evening it was only down to the Eurovision Song Contest type scoring system invented, installed and implemented by Mike Abercrombie (which took up more space than any of the games themselves) that enabled us to declare a winner. I’m afraid I can’t remember who it was (or any details of the scoring system) but we’ve had so much feedback on what a good evening it was, games, convivial atmosphere, confused committee, raffle prizes, food and all, that we must have got it right! Judy, Jan and Ross, all is forgiven, and let’s have another one soon (but with a slightly smaller scoreboard). Also can you ask if Carol Vorderman is free to pop along to help?
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 call either Chairman Ross Bagni, Coach Nick Boys, or if they’re all out and I’m not hosing down my butt, me, Andy Cross.
Source: Focus, July 2006