Leicestershire Tennis and Squash Club Seconds made the short trip to the famed sporting institution Loughborough University, for their first away fixture of the season against the Universities 3rd string. With team tactician and international playboy taking a well-earned mid-season break following 2 easy matches, Dan ‘The Professional’ Willets re-joined the quartet of tennis to squash converts.

 

Despite a combined age of 181 years compared with the students 94, the outfit were confident they could build on their strong start to the season. Sitting 6th in the table, a strong victory could see the team close in on the top-spot and take a step towards the teams’ primary objective of survival in the division. Upon arrival the students were on court warming up and discussing tactics, whilst the LLT&SC players were recounting the previous evenings drinking exploits. This reporter has managed to get hold of these stunning pictures which raise questions about the teams dedication to the sport.

‘Taken in the homes of Messieurs Pops, Wynne and Williams – 19th Oct 2016’

 

Opting to allow the students to tire themselves out further, Captain Don gave an inspiring team talk which included motivational phrases such as ‘we can’t afford to lose to these guys’, ‘they look much fitter than us’ and ‘Pops you’re playing a girl, so you have to win’. With the team talk done and the warm-ups complete, the match got underway.

String 4:  Adam ‘Hands’ Popowicz vs Martina ‘continental head’ Meibl 

Next-up, Pops was ready to unleash his unique brand of squash against another unwitting opponent; this time his opponent came in the form of a young Austrian Fraulein. From the first few exchanges it was clear that despite a solid squash game, Pops movement and front court game would overwhelm the overmatched international recruit. The match will be best remembered for an incident in the second where, not happy with just dismantling his opponent Pops decided to embarrass her in-front of her peers. Throwing in an audacious reverse-face volley drop, Martina scrambled to change direction before hitting the deck hard at Pops feet.

The spoils went Pops way 9-2, 9-0, 9-4 continuing his undefeated start to the season.

 

‘Artist impression of the unfortunate event– Embers 2016’

 

String 3: Matt ‘Embers’ Williams vs Ben ‘more knitwear’ Gear

Once more into the breach dear friends, Embers settled on to court for what many were expecting would be another drawn-out encounter, the strike to his riposte was another knitted jumper wearing young gun. Determined to impose himself early on, Embers played as far up the court as his aging legs could manage, the full court press was too much for his opponent as Embers raced through the first. Settling into the match, Embers usual tactic of sitting behind his opponent was employed to full effect in the second and third games, allowing the young runner to keep the games close. Luckily following the ‘encouraging’ words raining down from the balcony, Embers was able to find a few drops and close out the match in 3. Whether it was strengthened mental resolve or the call of the pizza and beer at the union, it was good to see Embers closing one out without the usual mid-match collapse (9-2, 9-5, 9-3)

 

String 1: Rob ‘The Natural’ Wynne vs Lewis ‘baby-face’ Chan

With the match won, attention turned to the opportunity of a maximum points haul. During the knock-up, it was clear that the backhand wing of Lewis was weaker than Trumps grasp of current affairs and Rob could exploit this at will. Predictions from the balcony were that The Natural would win in 3.

From the outset, the gulf in class was obvious to all, the balcony began taking wagers on how many points would be lost with estimates from 2-3 points up to 6. If Rob had been playing at full throttle it is likely that he could have pulled off the holy-grail which is a 27-0, but Rob seemed content to give his plucky opponent a bit of a run and strung it out to a 9-3, 9-2, 9-0 victory. Although the victory was never in doubt, the dominance shown bodes well for the rest of the season.

 

String 2: Chris ‘The Don’ Trafford vs Daniel ‘Calf-man’ Mitchell

Saving the best to last, The Don took on the big hitting Dan Mitchell; playing with no pressure The Don was looking to pick-up his first win of the season. Although the Loughborough order showed Dan at 2, the assembled masses agreed that he looked the students strongest player. The Dons powerful forehand and full stretch retrievals caught his opponent cold as the first and second games went the Dons way. The brutal exchanges were taking a toll on both players but the younger athlete managed to nick the third. As we entered the fourth, with the scores close at 4-5 another epic rally was unfolding when Dan, as if struck by one of The Dons mighty blows, collapsed to the floor holding his calf. In an act of pure sportsmanship The Don aided his fallen foe, stretching the cramping calf happily grinning whilst Dan writhed in clear agony!

 

Image courtesy of ‘Popowicz Images International’

Not knowing what the rules were in such a situation, The Professional aided the home marker explaining in detail the differences between stoppages for injury compared with those for cramp. Ignoring the ruling that he should forfeit if he couldn’t continue immediately, the fallen student left the court for 5 minutes (or 15 if you were the Don), to walk the cramp off. Upon the student re-emergence, The Don attempted to finish it off quickly; forgetting the proverb ‘beware the wounded tiger’ he stopped playing his usual game and Dan blazed 4 winners to take the match to a decider. The Don clearly insesnsed by what he thought may have been a false injury, took to the 5th with renewed resolve. Fuelled by righteous indignation, the Don rattled through the last in double quick time, coming through 10-8, 9-3, 6-9, 5-9, 9-0.

 

 

Twenty points in the bag and a table that makes very happy reading; whether it was the pizza of the Japanese lager speaking, talk turned to whether a promotion push could be mounted. A good start and there will be sterner tests round the corner, this reporter is left with Claudio Ranieri words reverberating in his mind ‘safety first and then we will see…’.