Martin Daly writes:
Barker Adds Bite
This year they had the added fun of the Christmas Frost Fair. That’s fun as in “massive traffic jam”. There was also the new complication of all of the matches being played with the home side giving a handicap of owe 1/2 15, independent of handicaps, in an attempt to reduce the lopsided home versus away win statistics.
The 45+ doubles started the day, with the unfamiliar pairing of Doug Sheperdigian and John Mather, playing the unfamiliar game of doubles, on an unfamiliar court. Despite all of that unfamiliarity, Sheperdigian’s consistency and Mather’s handy knack of repeatedly finding the grille kept the match tight. The first set went to the wire, with Hatfield’s Chris Handley and Jim Foxall just edging it 6/5. The second set was competitive, but not quite as close, with Handley’s all-round excellence, and Foxhall’s rackets-bred volleying coming to the fore, and Hatfield took it 6/4.
On paper, and in Peter Mather’s head, the 30+ singles against Stephen Brewerton looked like the home player was the favourite. Mather cried foul, claiming that his handicap would be worse if he hadn’t won some higher handicap weighting National League matches recently. [Not 100% sure about the logic there, Peter, Ed.] As it turned out, Brewerton, despite playing relatively well, never stood a chance. Mather repeatedly tracked down his best shots, and regularly punished everything else, always finding a balance between length, power and precision for a comfortable 6/2 6/3 victory.
Next up, in the 40+ singles was Martin Daly, whose loss in last year’s Brodie Cup Final was the only blemish on the otherwise perfect singles record of RTC. His opponent, Tim Harper represented Daly’s kyrptonite: a previously low (21) handicapper now cruising in the less glamorous part of the handicap range. As with the 45+ doubles, the first set was close, with Daly nicking it 6/5. Harper faded somewhat in the second set, and Daly took it relatively comfortably, 6/2, to edge RTC in front 2/1.
Brodie Cup debutant Ivan Barker (son of you-know-who) completed the singles matches against Nick Pickard (who expressed his extreme relief not to be playing Doug Sheperdigian, after his 2/6 1/6 defeat/massacre the previous year). Again the first set was tight, but Pickard, with his wrists-of-steel, don’t-try-this-at-home-kids, backhand volley in front of his face style, found his form at the crucial moment to prevail 6/5. Barker, to his credit, did not let his head drop, and instead raised his game, played several shots of which dad would be proud – we know this for a fact because dad was in the dedans, beaming from ear to ear – and took the next two sets 6/4 6/2 to seal the win for RTC. That’s two RTC members that Pickard will be hoping to avoid next time around…
As luck would have it, the 35+ doubles rubber was dead, because Paul Wright (a late-ish replacement) had mistakenly selected Clown Mode™ in the morning, and wasn’t able to help a bemused George Sleightholme defeat Louise Mercier and Andy Goldsmith, the Hatfield pair winning 6/5 4/6 6/4. Still, at least Wright was able to get a scented candle or two at the Christmas Frost Fair; so not a completely wasted trip.
In any normal week, Peter Mather’s performance would have sealed the Man of the Match award before 1pm, however Ivan Barker’s tender age, but mature head, mean that Peter will have to wait for his (inevitable) prize*.
RTC’s next match is at home, and therefore against the owe 1/2 15 handicap, against Holyport, on Sunday 11th December. Having won their two home matches 5/0 and 4/1 last year, it will be, ahem, interesting to see if that has any bearing.
|45+ Doubles||Chris Handley / Jim Foxall||beat||Doug Sheperdigian / John Mather||6/5 6/4|
|30+ Singles||Stephen Brewerton||lost to||Peter Mather||2/6 3/6|
|40+ Singles||Tim Harper||lost to||Martin Daly||5/6 2/6|
|50+ Singles||Nick Pickard||lost to||Ivan Barker||6/5 4/6 2/6|
|35+ Doubles||Louise Mercier / Andy Goldsmith||beat||Paul Wright / George Sleightholme||6/5 4/6 6/4|
*There is no prize