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I’ve Got A Lovely Bunch Of Coconuts!

26 July 2010

On 20 July 2010, the Radley team of Maggie Henderson-Tew, her son, Jamie Henderson-Gibb, Mark McArthur-Christie and Steve McKechnie lined up against the ‘Hambusters’, a team from RTC, Hampton Court Palace.  The ‘Busters comprised Graham Aston, Martin Bronstein, John Clark and David Glover, who claimed an aggregate of over 120 years membership of RTC and even longer as players of real tennis.

 It was an extremely enjoyable match, played in a splendidly competitive and convivial atmosphere.  Although, under the baton of able conductor Martin Bronstein, the ‘busters were undoubted victors in the battle of dedans banter, they were defeated on the court by Radley, 1-6.  

 There were two notable aspects of the fixture.  One was the video recording of the entire match by David Glover and Graham Aston, using a splendidly Heath Robinson configuration of string and rubber bands to keep the video camera firmly fixed in the top left hand corner of the dedans netting, and there was extensive use of impressively-lensed, hand-held cameras as well. 

 The second, and arguably more unusual feature of the match, was that, rather inexplicably, each member of the winning Radley team was presented with a fresh coconut by the ‘busters.  The significance of the coconuts was never fully explained.  Perhaps that was just as well…   The ‘busters did say they had brought the nuts as a consolation prize for the losing side, which they had confidently expected to be Radley, but, having lugged a bag of coconuts down the M40, the ‘busters decided that they did not want to haul  them all the way back to London.  Thus the nuts were presented, with due ceremony, to the victorious Radley side. 

 The match format was three singles (one 6-game set) and four doubles (one 8-game set) and each member of the team played three times.  The Radley team effort was characterised by rather slow starts in almost all their matches.  This pattern was broken in the final rubber of the match, which was a singles encounter between Mark McArthur-Christie and Martin Bronstein.  Martin is a highly experienced and thoroughly wily player, but his guile proved no match for Mark, whose handicap appeared to be 10 points better than it had been only 30 mins beforehand.  Mark steamed through to win the rubber 6-0, thus bringing the match to a thoroughly satisfying crescendo for the home side.

 Many thanks go to Mick for marking the first rubber, to John who marked the rest of the match and to Chris for setting up the fixture.  All the aforementioned then repaired to the Bowyer Arms for an excellent meal and disbanded at about 21.30 having had a very enjoyable match.

 Maggie Henderson-Tew

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