Janie (Daisy) and I normally play (modern) tennis every Saturday and Sunday morning, so my response to requests to fill in for late cancellations on the real tennis court at the weekends normally contains the answer “no”.
But I had noticed that the weather was set utterly foul for Sunday, so when Chris Swallow asked me on Friday if I could possibly do a couple of hours doubles to help the MCC Team prepare for the Boomerang Cup in Melbourne – click here to learn about that premier international sporting event, I thought Janie probably would sooner watch me play “realers” in a good cause than watch the rain wash out any hope of us playing “lawners”. I asked; Janie said yes.
Actually the weather forecast was wrong. It didn’t rain.
It snowed. Noddyland looked resplendent as we set off for Lord’s.
We allowed plenty of time to get to Lord’s in the snow, but actually the roads were empty yet perfectly passable so we got there in a record 20 minutes from Noddyland.
The wise doctor, Doctor Wyse, who was to be the third of the Boomerang Cup team in practice on the day, was not so lucky with the weather and phoned in snowed in. Iain Harvey and Oliver Wise were the two Boomerang Team stalwarts there for some match practice ahead of the antipodean batttle.
Carl Snitcher very kindly stayed on for a valiant extra 70-80 minutes after his hour of singles, to help make up the four.
Initially I partnered Iain against Oliver and Carl. Iain took pains to point out at one stage that he was bringing an extra “I” to our partnership…while I was bemoaning the fact that I hadn’t been using both of my eyes to watch the ball enough.
After one Boomerang set in the above permutation, Oliver and Iain felt that they should get used to partnering each other, so I then partnered The Mighty Snitch for a while (see above photo).
Once Carl had to leave, Chris Swallow took over as my partner for just under an hour, immediately bringing better performance out of me through some form of coachy-osmosis or something.
The Boomerang Cup has slightly different rules. Boomerang sets are “first to eight” (best of 15 games) rather than the regular “first to six” real tennis sets. Games are decided on “one point” at 40-40, even when there is no handicap to play. Also, if the receivers are three or more games behind, they can do a switch during the set (just the once) to try catch up by each facing the alternative opposing server. (In regular rules, the receiving pair decides who will receive against whom at the start of each set).
Janie (Daisy) enjoyed Rose Harvey’s company while watching and while taking some photos and vids. Three short clips below – the first is me serving and playing well:
…the second is what happens when that serve, the demi-piquet, goes slightly awry against a good player…
…the third shows me playing quite well again – this time from the grille side of the hazard end (I’m not making these names up as I go along, honest):
It is terrific experience for me to play doubles with better players like this; somehow I manage to lift my performance (at least a bit) when I play in these circumstances, which must be good for my game. In any case, it was a great fun morning of tennis.