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Thursday, September 20, 2007

Ultimate Doubles weekend Sat/Sun 20/21 Oct

Now is the time to sign up for this event!
You can do this either by email to:
or at the club.

We need to know:
Your name and your partner,
whether you prefer all day saturday, all day sunday, or half a day both days.

The aim is to get two groups of 8 pairs with all pairs within 10 handicap points in each group. The exact grouping will depend upon the entry.

Rules are as before:

All pairs play the same number of matches (sets)
all games played off level with 40-alls (no deuces)
best of one 6 game set.
one round-robin group then the "ultimate filtering" to gain a final ordering of 1 to 8.

Any questions to

or give me a call.

See you then if not before

Tom Povey

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Real Tennis Article in The Times 15th September 2007

In their latest husband-and-wife challenge, Rosie and Philip are baffled by the rules of the court.
She thinks
“Neither of us has played before, so we start as equals”
My husband is a royal pain on a tennis court, either as opponent or partner. He never lets you win just to be nice and, in a doubles match is for ever stealing your shots. He even takes pleasure in thrashing the children at Swingball.
However, on the elegantly decorated real tennis court at the Queen’s Club, West
London, it looks as if we might be equally rubbish. It is so complicated! Howard Angus, our coach, is charming and looks a bit like a matinée idol.
When the ball starts moving around the court it is clear that behind Angus’s smiley exterior lie muscles of steel. It’s ferociously challenging, though. Each end of the court is different; the ball usually comes to you not over the droopy net but via the sloped walls, or “penthouses”, and you have to aim for the “dedans”, a sort of raised goal at the end of one court. And don’t forget about the “hazard chases”. Whatever these are.
Angus starts off by serving me some underarm “bobbles”, which I think means easy shots.
When I at last get one back over the sagging net he yells “Hurrah!”, as if I have just won a rally against Andrew Murray.
Maybe I could take to real tennis, I think. Then I start playing Mr Millard. With irritation, I can see my spouse has realised that real tennis is a bit like squash, only with hazard chases to enliven things. He starts firing off balls to me, via the penthouse. I am lost. Real tennis is played with minute balls that have no bounce. Essentially, you have to run about, all the time. After five minutes of muffed returns it is clear we’re in a stalemate.
“Shall I take the serves for you?” says Angus, gallantly.
Mr Millard takes this as a huge compliment and starts firing balls off at Angus. One goes into the “grill”. This is a big deal. “My word!” says Angus. “I would say that you have a natural court manner. Have you ever thought about taking up rackets [a game similar to squash]?” Blah, blah, I think, furiously. We continue to rally. At least I try my best. “This reminds me of when I first played real tennis at Cambridge,” chirrups Angus. “Couldn’t get a single ball on to the penthouse. Tell you what, why don’t you both play me?” He’s so sweet. However, alongside Mr Millard on court is even worse. At one point, Angus lobs us a nasty forehand. “Yours!” Mr M shouts. Naturally, I miss it. He shoots me a furious look.
Angus then starts explaining the finer points of the hazard chase to us. Mr Millard nods as if he understands, and makes intelligent remarks. God. He does understand. Maybe I am less clever than I originally thought. Maybe my brain is dying. Maybe the fact that I can’t understand the point system of real tennis is the first sign, at 42, of senility.
As I ponder my withering intellect, Angus is lobbing a few bobbles around. “Come and let me show you the championship court,” he says to us in a kindly way. But, instead, I go back to the ladies’ changing room, where I discover, to my pleasure, there is a giant whirlpool, not with bobbles but with bubbles.
I’m sorry, I don’t care how authentic real tennis is, I couldn’t get the hang of it. Nonbouncy balls, indeed.
He thinks
“I expect I’ll be good at this, as I’m normally a whizz with bats and balls”
I’m warming up with the three-times real tennis world champion, Howard Angus, on one of two courts at the Queen’s Club, a private members’ sports club in West London.
This is a confusing game that resembles a cross between tennis and squash. It is played indoors across a sagging net within a high walled court.
A favourite sport of king Henry VIII, it has several sexy ornaments including a roof called the penthouse which you have to serve on to, and some nets carved into the side and the end known as dedans, which help your scoring along if you hit them. I’m tempted to think that the court was designed by a distant relative of the man who invented the pinball machine.
It’s going all right although the court’s many lines – some with mysterious coloured crowns on them – the complicated rules, and the French-sounding court positions are distracting me.
Not as distracting though as Rosie’s intepretation of Queen’s strict all-white dress code. Of course, it’s also a good idea if the white clothes are the right size, which isn’t so easy if you wear shorts belonging to your seven-year-old son. Rosie looks equally uncomfortable with her spoon-shaped wooden real tennis racket, probably because she is holding it the wrong way round. The geography of sports equipment being as testing for her as the correct way round a road map. It is as well that nobody else is watching her pirouette around the ball in this, one of England’s most hallowed sports clubs.
Angus exudes only noble charm as she again and again fails to find the racket’s admittedly miniscule sweet spot. When she finally pokes one over the ancient netting he shouts out: “That’s a winning shot.” Angus, who is convinced that real tennis is not as complex as it first seems, lists four easy rules for winning at tennis (and any other racket sport): hit the ball over the net; hit it where the opponent is not; variety; and play to the other person’s weakness.
Angus, who won his last world title some time ago, is living proof that it is worth persevering with this crafty game. Many play well into their late middle-age long after cricket, tennis, skiing, and squash have given up on them. I suspect this group will not include my wife.
I’m up for this at any time: even, perish the thought, when I can play no other sport. I hope the Queen’s Club will invite me back.
Lessons cost from £30 an hour. To find an instructor contact the Tennis & Rackets Association 020-7386 3447; or The Queen’s Club, Baron’s Court, West London, is a private members’ club: 020-7386 3429

Tuesday, September 04, 2007

Brownlee and Brown win In The Hat Doubles

Report to follow!