Anyone for tennis?

‘I’ve never played tennis,’ Trace said as a ball sailed through the gap in her tennis racquet. ‘Maybe I’ve found a sport I’m crap at.’

And with that she trapped the ball in her tennis racquet. She was impressed.

Trace and her trick shot
Trace and her trick shot

A few days before I’d sent a text inviting people to join me for in Mountsfield Park for the Freyathlon tennis events and received a few expressions of interest: ‘I don’t have a racquet but I’m happy to play’ ‘Can I just watch?’ ‘I’ve got a racquet but it’s missing a few strings’

There was a chance tennis of some fashion could happen.

Paddling and playing

On the day I left my dragon boat training session clutching tennis racquets for two (thanks Denise and Wendy!) and hurried home to refuel before heading to one of the two courts at the park.

Trace and I started leisurely hitting the ball between us, sometimes managing to hit the ball over the net. I sensed it might turn out to be a long afternoon and started to reflect on how a two-hour paddling session with WaveWalkers, in what had turned out to be strong wind and choppy water, might affect my tennis game.

Freya attempts a ground shot
Freya attempts a ground shot

Vanessa arrived and offered to umpire, with a much-needed and very-welcome permissive approach to her duties. I’m not sure the Lawn Tennis Association would approve but it worked for us. We decided to play the best of three games: I lost a game and won the next two.

Two singles, one doubles

With the arrival of Gill and Catharine and one randomly-strung racquet, a doubles match was a possibility. Catharine took Trace’s place on the court and, a not-so-speedy warm-up we started to play. It quickly became clear Catharine had played a bit of tennis over the years and knew how to use the whole court. I hadn’t and didn’t.

At one game all and everything to play for, Caroline arrived with Monty and play was halted briefly for canine appreciation. The final game went to match point more than once. But it finally ended: Catharine won.

Umpire Vanessa checks Gill's kit
Umpire Vanessa checks Gill’s kit

During the refreshment break (water, no Robinson’s), Caroline assessed our attire: ‘You look like you’re about to go snowboarding.’ She was right. We looked more suited to snowy slopes than a tennis court in SE London.

The crowd were getting restless so we took to the court for a four-game doubles match: Trace and Gill, Catharine and I. Some serves went over the net, some shots were in, some balls were caught by Monty, some of us congratulated each other on our shots, some of us used our lacrosse skills, some of us tested our umpire’s decisions.

Monty interrupts play
Monty interrupts play

We’d been playing for almost 90 minutes and the players were getting restless. Everyone had held their service game. And I was due to play the final service game. There was no pressure.

I lost.

But a rematch is planned.



Tennis. 28 February 2016

Mountsfield Park

TeamFreya: Caroline, Catharine, Gill, Trace, Vanessa

Cost: Free