From flying ants to record breaking weather, and from epic battles to a fond farewell it has been a wonderful week of league tennis in Britain's parks
It has been quite a summer of tennis in the park. It was played beneath flying ants and a drone in Wandsworth, among midges in Edinburgh, with bloodied knees in Dundee and next to lads smoking weed in Portsmouth which, admitted Roger, may have helped with the match being played in a good spirit.
Rackets were broken in Hove and in Wandsworth (where Alex kindly lent his spare to Jack); in Cavendish Rec & Queensmead, Gianfraco drew blood when he hit himself on the head with his racket, Tim in the AELTC Community Sports Ground league played on his “beloved grass”; and in Wandsworth, Simon says:
“I asked Tom to give me a set because it was my birthday.”
Nor was it all about great tennis. In Waltham Forest Anthony says he even got to have a go on Eric’s electric scooter.
It was definitely a week of marathons. There was the “epic tussle” between Patrick and Mark in Ipswich, the "oh-what-a-match" between Gareth and Marko in Docklands and Jordi and Craig in High Wycombe and in Haringey, Ruesharn said “I’m absolutely knackered” after the 3-6, 7-6, 6-4 victory against James. “These 3 setters and tie breaks are killing me!”
It was also a week of debuts. “Good to meet you James,” said Mike, in Sheffield, “enjoyed my first game in the league.” “Welcome to LTL Alex” said Richard in St Albans, and in Norwich, Ian said, “An enjoyable and memorable match for my debut. Thanks, Cathy, for welcoming me into the league.”
The unofficial prize for effort and determination this week goes to Tony and David in Crystal Palace who played a “great match that nearly didn’t happen”. When something went wrong with their 4pm booking at Crystal Palace they “raced down to Croydon Road and took possession of a vacant court,” said Tony.
“All went my way in the first set but then David started accumulating games and before I knew it, the score was one set all. We were then thrown off by the people who had booked. We found another court and the tension mounted as the score crept up to 4-3, 4-4, 5-4. By then we were both desperately tired and somehow I held on to win. Thanks David for a really great match.”
It will not be forgotten that this was also the week of record breaking heat or as Jeremy from Hove put it, “Scorchio”. Simon and Stephen played “an epic game in blistering heat” and Jacqueline in Richmond came through “a battle and a half on a court without a shade.” Thursday 25 July was not just the hottest day of the year in the UK, it was said Wonil in Wandsworth, “the hottest day in my life. 39C is phenomenal… But the match itself [against Ash] was amazing... we played like professionals with towels and bottles of water.”
There were personal records too. Muhammad says his three setter against Cass in Lee Valley was “one of the best games I’ve ever played in”; in Sheffield, Martin says his match “turned out to be the most fun match so far for me in these leagues” and in the Christchurch Park league in Ipswich Daniel achieved his first victory against long standing rival Avery on the 5th match point.
Back at Tennis HQ, we were also delighted to see record entries this summer in Liverpool, Greenwich, Cardiff, Sheffield, Southwark & Borough, Wandsworth, Lee Valley, Kilburn Grange Park, Parliament Hill, Bristol, Cambridge, West Ham and Newham, Haggerston Park and our flagship and very first league, Highbury Fields with 190 players.
As always this was a week of rivalries re-newed, as Robert and Alex went “backwards and forwards” once again in Craiglockhart, Karen and Chris re-fought an old battle in Northampton and Mary in Hove said “it was good to play with David again after a long time”.
Finally, it was a week of a fond farewell, which was very much in the spirit of the league. “Great to play with Simon after many years since our last meeting," said Omar in Wandsworth:
“I have added a net game since the last time and used it to good effect here, especially once my forehand errors start racking up. Simon will be moving on to bigger and better things after this round and I wish him all the best with new projects. From one awkward lefty to another, it’s been a pleasure.”