Leicestershire Motor on to Podium Position

With Chief Sports Writer and all-round entertainer, Robbie Wynne on sick-leave, this week’s write up is brought to you from our Motoring Columnist who has been pulled in at short notice, who just so happens to be, Robbie Wynne.

Hi Sports Fans, in what is a first for me, I have been given the honour of producing the write-up for the clash between Leicestershire Tennis and Squash Club Second String, and visitors, Charnwood First Team. It is therefore my pleasure to welcome you to my ever-popular Motoring Column from The Wynne Motoring Times. As my knowledge of Sports reporting is limited, I will be reverting to my comfort zone and adopting a ‘car review’ style approach.

The line-ups:

1. Ollie “The Tactician” Wood vs Jez “Nice Guy” Cromie
2. Robbie “The Natural” Wynne vs Charles “Howzat” Wootan
3. Chris “The Don” Trafford vs Vince “Greenfingers” Gardner
4. Andy “Manky” Maynard vs Paul “Didn’t see him” Calland
5. Matt “Embers” Williams vs Cameron “In Matt’s Head” Baxter

With the familiar sound of Luke “Lukey-Boy” Parker drilling his ailing charge within an inch of his life on the adjoining court, the number 3’s got the tie underway and Captain Trafford took to the court aiming to get his side off to a quick start.

Match 1: Chris “The Don” Trafford vs Vince “Greenfingers” Gardner

Exterior (Appearance)
*****
(5 Stars out of 5)

Looking resplendent in Team colours and sponsored top, Chris “The Don” Trafford took to the court and looked every bit the Team Leader. Chris has seemingly only ever worn one pair of squash shoes so you could be forgiven for expecting a lower score in this category, but I am pleased to report that relentless spins in the washing machine have maintained a whiter than white appearance for the now 5-year old shoes.

In contrast, his opponent had the look of a be-spectacled drifter, somehow managing to appear both intelligent yet homeless. Quite a feat.

Equipment
****
(4 stars)

The Don’s weapon of choice is a tear-drop style Tecnifibre which has been with him throughout his meteoric rise to number 8 in the LT&SC* Order of Merit. The Don’s ample racquet bag is home to a previous version of said bat as a replacement should it ever be needed, and because of this, top marks cannot be awarded. Only like-for-like replacements can be seen as perfect in this regard.

*NOT LLT&SC as Part-time Junior Sports Contributor, Matt “Embers” Williams insists on writing

Performance
****
(4 stars)

The Don seemed to have the bit between his teeth from the very first point and this hard-hitting affair was a barnstormer from start to finish. Both players looked to enjoy giving the ball a good old pasting, but it was Captain Don who had greater control of both the two-dot, and also the vast majority of points. In the first game it appeared that there was a slight lack of patience in hitting down the backhand side, and a number of times The Don went cross-court to his opponents stronger wing, and was immediately put on the back foot. That said, a much tighter short game saw The LT&SC Captain apply the pressure and take the opening game.

With The Tactician acting as marker, a few wise words were imparted during the change of ends, and the second game got underway. Unfortunately at this stage this handsome reporter was forced to leave the action to oversee the match on Court 2, but I imagine it was more of the same from there on in.

A straight sets victory for The Don against an opponent who has yet to register a victory in the division, but who has taken games off both Dave Wood and Nick Marshall this term, so clearly has calibre. A dominant display of hitting improves The Don’s record to 3 and 3 at an average string of 2.3, showing that Captain Trafford is holding his own in the league and promising there is plenty more to come.

Ride and handling (Movement)
***
(3 stars)

The Don was at his scampering best when moving to the ball but a deep T position left him open to wider attacks which forced him back into the corners. Being higher up on the T means these wider balls can be cut out and made to look like bad shots. Thankfully, this was adopted in the second game. There is also a slight tendency to ‘hit and stop’ when playing in short, meaning there is a danger of a Stroke ball being called if the shot is slight loose, or the opponent is on the sniff for an easy point, so this is something I am sure The Don and his Team will be working on behind closed doors.

Running costs (Fitness)
****
(4 stars)

The Don is a fit lad, there is no doubt about that. This was a game played at a frantic pace and he looked strong throughout. Some tactical breathers in between points breaks no rule and the LT&SC Captain is a master at taking the time when it needs to be taken. Only misses out on 5 stars due to it being a 3-game match so full judgment on fitness could not be made.

Interior (Mental Strength)
****
(4 stars)

Never in doubt in this match but never really called upon. This was a rip-roaring match but not a mentally tough one. Sure there were moments where The Don had to take a step back and assess, but he was never made to delve into the depths of his resolve to draw from the well of fortitude and resilience.
Tougher battles to come.

Reliability
****
(4 stars)

This was a game on paper that The Don would have expected to win. His opponent has shown glimpses this season but has yet to string it all together in a single performance so the result is a good one but not an unexpected one. For his efforts, The Don receives a 4% increase on SquashLevels taking him to a career high of 2080. His record this season shows an equal win/loss rate, but at the highest position he has played at thus far in his fledgling career, that is some achievement.

Match 2: Matt “Embers” Williams vs Cameron “In Matt’s Head” Baxter

Exterior (Appearance)
***
(3 Stars)
Despite matching the purple piping of his tracksuit bottoms to the colour of his training top, as ever, Embers took to court looking like a bag of spanners.

Equipment
***
(3 stars)

With Williams announcing in the week that he has signed a short-term sponsorship agreement with Dunlop, he was seen for the first time in a competitive environment with his new blade. Matching the colour of his watch-strap (more by luck than judgement), the bright orange frame looked akin to a club of fire wielded by a Norse God. Unfortunately for Embers and the scoring criteria for this category, it now means that of the 5 rackets Matt has in his (albeit quite cool retro) bag, none are the same. So he loses marks. And don’t get me started on the shoes.

Performance
***
(3 stars)

Before the game, all the talk (from Matt), was about one thing. Cameron. How he should be playing higher, how he’s their second best player, how he bears the mark of the Chosen One and will one day re-unite the masses and storm the palace to capture the fair maiden and reclaim his rightful place atop the Throne. You may therefore forgive this reporter for hearing alarm bells as the players knocked up, but to his (mine, my?) and many others surprise, it was Embers who stormed out of the blocks and opened up a commanding lead in the opening game. Some excellent hitting down the backhand side (a more common and welcome sight these days), saw Baxter forced into forcibly forcing the play and hitting a number of errors and loose balls that were calmly put away by a confident looking Embers. However, this was not to last as Williams got caught up in the pace of the hitting and reverted to trying to match Baxter’s game. As Baxter increased his level, Embers’ seemed to drop off and some trademark errors saw the game slip away. As Luke “Lukey-boy” Parker looked on he was heard saying:

This guy’s rubbish, all Matt needs to do is keep it tight and he will do something stupid. He hasn’t hit a good shot yet”.

And with that he was off to impart this wisdom on the shorn Williams. I should add at this point that Williams was sporting a new hair-cut, taken very much out of the “Can you make me look younger please” look-book.

The second game got underway and Williams began by creating a number of good openings in the front forehand corner, usually a happy hunting ground for him. However, on this night he had decided inexplicably to hit every drop-shot by dropping the racquet-head to below his heel, and hitting a rolled “top-spin” that was both readable (to the extent Steve “Chef” Parker christened the shot “The Telegraph”), and utterly gettable. With Baxter on good form, this was not a good recipe. With these chances gone, Williams spirit seemed to go with it, and seeing the game out with his customary errors, we went into the third.

With Adam “Hands” Popowicz looking on and expressing:

He doesn’t think he can beat him

It appeared that the pre-match hype had indeed got into Embers’ shaven head, and the end was nigh. The final game was not much of a contest and we were left wondering what could have been.

Ride and handling (Movement)
***
(3 stars)

Like his Captain, Williams suffered from being too far from the T, meaning he was left open to short attacks, wide cross courts, and the shouldn’t-be-a-winning-shot reverse boast. Knowing his weakness is the backhand corner, this has to be something he looks to address with friend and long-term hitting partner, Robbie “The Natural” Wynne. Unlike his Captain however, he was unable to address this in the match (albeit against a stronger player), and this ultimately was one of the main contributing factors that led to his downfall

Running costs (Fitness)
****
(4 stars)

Looked fit, no mistake. Not as fit as years gone by, but certainly fitter than some years gone by. No longer do we see a heaving lumbering Williams who is noticeably tired after a gruelling rally. This is a good sign and shows that with a little more dedication and a little less premium grade Whiskey, the corner that needs to be turned may be just around the corner.

Interior (Mental Strength)
**
(2 stars)

Unfortunately it seems that this match may have been lost before it started. Cameron “In Matt’s Head” Baxter has had some good results this year and having claimed the scalps of both Williams and Trafford in months gone by, it never really seemed that this was a match where the result would be any different. Statements such as:

Let’s see if I can get closer than last time
He’s their second best player
Can you make me look like Bruno Mars please

Only go to show that mentally, this was not one of Embers’ better nights.

Reliability
***
(3 stars)

An expected result based on the respective levels of both players, but not the result an in-form Williams would have been looking for. This takes his record this season to won 3, lost 3 which is far from being a disgrace based on the calibre of opponent he has faced. Some fine tuning in practice and some Tecnifibre strings in his new bat will see Williams turn things around and become a “banker” post-Christmas.

Match 3: Andy “Manky” Maynard vs Paul “Didn’t see him” Calland

Exterior (Appearance)
*
(1 Star)
Not an intimidating look.

Equipment
**
(2 stars)

His Wilson racquet has been around the block more time than his rig has been around the M25.

Performance
(N/A)
Didn’t see it.

Ride and handling (Movement)
(N/A)
Didn’t see it.

Running costs (Fitness)
(N/A)
Didn’t see it.

Interior (Mental Strength)
(N/A)
Didn’t see it.

Reliability
***
(3 stars)

Fair play to “Manky” who is making his long-awaited and somewhat reluctant comeback this season. He has played his three matches now and helped out the Teams so there is nothing but respect for him. Word has it that following these three matches he has been forced to take a mid-season break from the game to re-cooperate, so we all wish him well.

Match 4: Robbie “The Natural” Wynne vs Charles “Howzat” Wootan

Exterior (Appearance)
****
(4 Stars)

A dashing, sculpted visage matched with (slimming) black kit accessorised beautifully with over-sized sweat band, means only one thing…top marks. Or does it? The lack of sponsored Team top means a point is deducted as perfection was not achieved.

Equipment
*****
(5 stars)

Three identical racquets housed in a genuine vintage Adidas leather “violin case” style racquet bag. State of the art Asics pumps. Pioneering ankle supports. Prototype in-shoe heel supports. Three different varieties of energy supplements. Four different hair products. The list goes on.

Exemplary.

Performance
****
(4 stars)

I won’t dwell on things. Started slowly against a player who either hit hard or harder. Lost the opening exchanges to a flurry of winners but then managed to steady the ship and move the ball and his opponent around. From there on in it was a matter of sitting back and watching the Cricket enthusiast Wootan beat himself.

A solid if not eye-catching performance following a brief injury lay-off. Did what needed to be done with the minimum of fuss.

Ride and handling (Movement)
***
(3 stars)

Slightly edgy given his recent injury but in all honesty as his opponent was largely hitting the ball back to the middle of the court, not much movement was required. Too far back from the T in the opener saw him dropping points to balls what should not have been winners, but after the fifth or sixth time of seeing the ball roll past his foot, this was quickly remedied.

Running costs (Fitness)
****
(4 stars)

The back held up which must be the most pleasing thing for the unbeaten (in the division) and endearing Wynne. There is work to be done to get back to the pre-niggle levels but overall he looked comfortable.

Interior (Mental Strength)
***
(3 stars)

Not an evening where mental toughness was called upon. Had to figure things out in the middle of the first game but was plain sailing from there on in.

Reliability
*****
(5 stars)

Wynne maintains his perfect record in the division and improves to 5 from 5, dropping only 3 games in the process.

Match 5: Ollie “The Tactician” Wood vs Jez “Nice Guy” Cromie

Exterior (Appearance)
****
(4 Stars)

For up to a non-negotiable maximum of three days a week*, The Tactician can be found at the head of his conference table in the heart of the Market Town, Market Harborough, shouting orders into a speakerphone at a bemused and intimidated Russian Oligarch. For a man of such stature it is not a surprise therefore to see him impeccably turned out on the Squash court. Despite being the correct colour however, his t-shirt did not bear the name of Team sponsor Withers (www.withersonline.co.uk), and therefore a star is lost.

* The remaining 4 days are spent buying cars, bathing in unicorn tears, frequent holidays, and mowing the lawn his gardener refuses to

Equipment
*****
(5 stars)
His racquet bag is a veritable treasure trove of modern technology and sentimental artefacts. Indeed, Wood is known to carry the very racquets he used when he played President Reagan during a trip state side circa 1986. Knowing he was a keen player, Wood used the opportunity to have a game and negotiate himself and his Business a favourable trade deal over the post-match coolade.

Full marks.

Performance
*****
(5 stars)

Going up against a player who has long been seen as the line in the sand for quality in Division 2, few people could have expected the kind of performance that The Tactician laid on. Having come fresh from a high quality encounter with Guy “Hollywood” Pearce the night before, Wood’s eye was very much in. Drawing gasps and cheers from the expectant gallery with his sheer force of hitting and ability to put the ball anywhere on court irrespective of where or how tight is was, this must and can only be described as a master class.

Restricting his foe to a meagre two points, this was impressive on a number of levels. Wrong-footing, out-manoeuvring, out-witting and out-gunning his opponent, The Tactician reminded everyone just how much of an asset he is to this Team, and how important he is if they are to maintain their push for the top of the league.

Ride and handling (Movement)
*****
(5 stars)

“Nice Guy” Cromie was unable to shift Wood from the T area, and even when he did, The Tactician was able to effortlessly return to his adopted home on Court 1 with consummate ease. In contrast, Cromie was made to cover every inch of the court, much like Williams covers every inch of a takeaway menu.

Running costs (Fitness)
*****
(5 stars)

Despite making it look easy, this kind of display cannot be possible without inherent fitness and strength. The fact Wood was not barrelling around the court does not hide this fact. The ability to take the ball early and play in front of his opponent for 99% of the match is backed up by fitness reserves only found in men with gyms in their home and a lot of spare time on their hands.

Interior (Mental Strength)
*****
(5 stars)

Come on, seriously?

Reliability
*****
(5 stars)

The Tactician moves to a Division 2 record of 3 wins from 3 with the loss of a single game. The Sumptuous Seconds know they must use him sparingly, but it is a sure fire bet that when they do, they will have at least one mark in the ‘W’ column.

So that brings to a close this edition of the Wynne Motoring Times.

I hope you have enjoyed the ride.

Picture Section – Stars and their cars.

Ollie “The Tactician” Wood

Robbie “The Natural” Wynne

Chris “The Don” Trafford

Andy “Manky” Maynard

Matt “Embers” Williams