Owen Saunders writes:
In the inaugural RTC Men versus Women match the ladies, led by Nicola Doble, triumphed over RTC’s men by a convincing 4 1/2 to 1 1/2 points margin.
Billed as the Battle of the Sexes, the men chivalrously let the women secure a healthy victory, as anything else would clearly have been caddish behaviour. On a balmy afternoon and evening in late May, competitors also engaged in a range of subsidiary competitions to decide overall athletic supremacy. The negotiations for what these competitions should be included suggestions from men’s captain Owen Saunders of hunting/gathering, arm wrestling and reading a car atlas, and suggestions from Nicola of home baking, soaking in a long hot bubble bath with a Marian Keyes book, and giving partners the silent treatment. Eventually they settled on a boules tournament, a coconut shy and a mini golf style putting contest throughout the club room.
By general consent it was agreed that none of the couples should be pitted against each other.
In the main event Glyn Saunders led off the men against double varsity Charlotte Barker, with steely determined Charlotte’s giraffe serve and piercing ground strokes proving too much for Glyn who went down 10/6. Next up was experienced Alec Miller and newby Elwyn Hughes against steely determined Helen-Frances Pilkington and steely determined Kate Lawrence. The ladies got off to a great start, but somehow the men got to 7/5 up… before losing the next seven games in a row to lose 12/7. Things didn’t look much better for the men with Simon Edmond 4/0 down against world number two Karen Hird in the first singles match. However, Simon persevered with accurate width and well judged forcing and used his handicap to maximum advantage, eventually bringing mistakes from the steely determined Karen and winning 8/6, although Karen had her chances at 6/6.
In the next doubles Owen Saunders and George Sleightholme took on the world’s top two left handed women, the steely determined Sue Haswell and the steely determined Nicola Doble. The boys had their dander up and race out into a 4/0 lead, but were eventually pegged back in an entertaining game with some frantic rests. The ladies clung on to level the match at 8/8 with the last hit of the match.
Karen Prottey fought hard to hold of Saverio Campione in a very tense battle that could have gone either way, especially when Saverio’s railroad started firing, but with steely determined Karen’s 10/8 victory came an unassailable lead for the women. In the final rubber, Dick Cowling and Dorian Drew looked all at sea as Sue Haswell and Elvira Campione, both playing with steely determination, volleyed their way to a 10/7 win.
Most Valuable Player awards, decided by the opposing captains, went to Helen-Frances and to Simon, with Elvira and Dick taking the champagne for the subsidiary events. The glorious trophy now adorns the trophy cabinet, to spur men on throughout the year to trying harder.
It was great to see such a range of handicaps play – 21, 24, 27, 31, 34, 35, 36, 37, 42, 43, 45, 49, 50, 56, 57, 62, 64 – showing that everyone can join in these sorts of events.
The men have now decided that this match forms the first leg of a three match challenge. No more Mr Nice Guys: the next challenge will be full contact 15-a-side rugby in the club garden.