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Cambridge v Newmarket, Sept 30th 2017

Posted on October 3, 2017 | in Match Report, NewsTicker | by

It is always a pleasure to visit Newmarket to enjoy the marking of Andrew Knibbs, the Brian Blessed of the Real Tennis world, whose volume is matched only by the dramatic intensity with which he calls the score. “FOOURT-TEEEE” (delivered at high pitch) “ FIFFF-TEEEEN” (with a downward swoop to a basso profundo of disappointment).

But when not admiring Andrew’s marking, how was the tennis? We fielded a large group of players, with handicaps ranging from the 80s to the 40s, so play started early, with Gillian Moore against Philippa Wells. The comment from Andrew was: “A close match, but Gillian made the better decisions.” Since the score went 10/2 to Gillian, her perspicacity must have been very much in play.

Ben Geytenbeek got 4/1 up against Newmarket’s Jamie Robertson, (putting an awful lot of balls in the net at first), but then allowed Jamie back in, to finish 9/10 down.

Joe Zygmunt was helped by his opponent Bill Mackintosh’s habit of just getting the edge of his racket to in-coming balls, thus gifting Joe at least 6 or 7 more-or-less free points. Ben’s leftie serve was helpful too, in taking him to a 10/5 victory for Cambridge.

Catherine Stewart was (I believe) making her foreign-match debut against Henry Edwards, who first tried to bribe Ken the marker by scattering copious coins at his feet, and later took advantage of his advancing years by having a lie-down (Catherine following suit, followed by Ken….). At 1/5, Catherine got in her stride, showing true grit to reach 8/9. This galvanised Henry into actually running for the ball at least three times, but Catherine had no mercy for age, and took the match 10/9.

By now the scoreline was 3/1 in Cambridge’s favour. The doubles match, however, did not go our way. Husband and wife team, Jeremy and Linda Fairbrother, had great difficulty finding any serves to bother their opponents Ian Lindsay and Jeremy Barnett. In both sets, games crept up level to 3/3, and then, in both sets, the home team pulled ahead to win: Newmarket 6/5 6/3.

The final match involved the two players with handicaps in the 40s, Ken Smith (wearing his Newmarket hat) against Howard Mason. Ken romped ahead to 5/0, 6/0… 8/0! His spinning serves, and fine use of the dedans corners, were proving deadly weapons. It looked like being a whitewash, but at 9/0 Howard found some serves that worked, and Ken, tiring and spooked, began to make mistakes. Howard started to win points and deuces; and won the next three games. Could he scramble up the mountain all the way? Alas, no, it was too steep by this point, and Ken stopped the come-back to win 10/3.

So the end result was a very fair draw, 3 rubbers each, with an entertaining mix of tennis, psychology, and cunning – plus a good lunch too.

Linda Fairbrother


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