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2012 Newmarket & Cambridge Tour

5 June 2012

It was 4th February; the day was seasonally fresh with snow forecast, perfect conditions to consider setting off for friendly matches at Newmarket and Cambridge. Undaunted by the prospect of a challenging journey our team of Roger Davies, Nick Manby-Brown, Julia Kettle, Ian Balding, Martin Moss, Paul Kettle and Liz Leach set off full of hope and expectation.

Our first stop was Newmarket and a court with a reputation for occasional sweating resulting in it being too slippery for play. At the start of play the doubles pairing of Roger and Nick was greetedby a wet floor. However, rather than sweating, this was the result of condensation from the previous day freezing on the roof and then thawing in the early morning sun. Play continued with the court resembling Costa del Sol sun loungers with players nimbly dancing around towels strategically laid out below the major drips. Alas the Radley duo narrowly lost out 6-5, 6-5 in the chase the towel challenge but they dried and polished the floor nicely for the rest of the team.

Next on was Julia with consecutive singles matches against the young and promising Wells Brothers. Julia entertained the crowd in the dedans with a bobble serve master class while the home gallery cheered for James. The bobble was too much for James and Radley drew level at 1 rubber all.

More of the same from Julia as she took on Charlie, the younger member of the Wells family.  Offers to purchase bobble lessons increased in frequency and size of bid as the bottles of red satiated the dedans thirst. 2-1 to Radley.

Ian and Martin paired up to take on Barry Peak and Jeremy Richardson. This was a close match with potential to become tense. Fortunately the supply of red wine fuelled the dedans banter machine to maintain good humour on and off court. Both sets were decided by 5 all, 40 all sudden death points with Newmarket edging both sets.

Next on Paul faced local pro Andrew Knibbs who gave away a receive 15 owe ½ 30 handicap to the visitor. Partly due to the influence of fumes from the dedans and partly due to Andrew being cold and stiff from marking the previous 4 rubbers Paul raced to a straight sets victory.

Poised at 3-2 it was left to Liz to secure victory for the tourists. After leading for most of the match Ian saved a match point with a lob into the dedans via the penthouse. However, Liz’s comeback by virtue of her commitment to striking every ball was complete 1-6, 6-5, 6-4.

Victory secured the Radley team said goodbye to Ian and Newmarket before seeking cover and regrouping in Cambridge.

From their adjacent B&Bs Roger, Nick, Julia and Paul arranged to meet and wander into Cambridge for sustenance, to compare notes about the days play and to develop strategy for the match against Cambridge. Nick pointed out that he had been back in the UK for less than a day having left the Australian summer. His return home was met by the winter’s first snow fall as we walked to our chosen hostelry. Fed, watered (well wined & beered) we waded back through the snow to our beds.

Sunday morning started by digging our cars out of drifts, an excellent way to sober up and develop appetites for a full-English.

It seems Cambridge learned of our success at Newmarket and decided to divide and conquer, scheduling our games on both of their courts and limiting our ability to support fellow team mates. Fortunately Liz brought her parents along to cheer but as it was their first encounter with real tennis they were not too sure when to cheer.

The match started badly with Paul being hammered by a rapidly improving Olly Watson (a Radley family member – so could be considered a draw?). Nick, Roger and Julia provided the results we craved moving the score to 3-1 to Radley. This left Liz on the green court and Martin on the blue court to secure victory.

These last two rubbers were tight and entertaining with Liz’s parents joining in the red wine theme to show solidarity and compliance with tour etiquette. Alas Liz and Martin lost out 10-7 and 10-9 making the result 3 rubbers each so a count back on games. End result 47 games each. On the face of it a perfect draw with potential for claims by Radley thanks to Olly Watson’s membership.

A cracking tour, thanks to excellent hospitality, especially from Newmarket (more wine!).  A highly recommended weekend tour, please arrange weather to suit!

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