The inaugural Philanderers’ Real Tennis Tournament was staged at Newmarket Real Tennis Club amidst great expectation on Sunday 28 October. Organised and managed on the day by John Burnett, the event met those expectations, and more. Real tennis courts are notoriously cold places to spend a Sunday, or any other day come to that, but the welcome was warm and the kitchen and social area had the dual benefits of adequate heating and the usual Philanderers’ banter.
As far as the participants were concerned, what appeared, at first glance, as a motley crew turned out to be an enthusiastic, if sartorially challenged, group of individuals – few had noted the dress code prescribed by the organiser. Some had come out of retirement, whilst others displayed good recent form and reasonable agility. The youngsters, one suspects, were dealing with the after-effects of a heavy Saturday night out.
The ancient and much revered game of real tennis is underpinned by its rules and etiquette. A good grasp of the former is very much to one’s playing advantage and non-adherence to the latter is normally a hanging offence. Those new to the game were given an induction and some handy hints before play got underway.
There then ensued a full day of decent tennis, competitive edge and a huge amount of fun, not to mention a stellar buffet lunch courtesy of our organiser, John Burnett. A range of hearty soups was also available but, with umpteen graduates present, it was a shame that none of them could work the microwave properly!
The aforesaid etiquette was rudely disturbed on the arrival of the Führer as play was suspended whilst he took his seat. But our leader was a welcome addition to the occasion and had generously provided a sponsorship contribution.
For some it seemed like the cricket season had not ended as there was Pimblett providing tips on the rules and scoring. But it was David who did his share of marking (umpiring) and produced the best tennis on the day to run out winner of the Players’ Group.
With odd shaped racquets, furry balls, a tambour, the dedans, a grille, and hazard chases better than half a yard, it was an enlightening affair for the two young novices, Campbell and Gill, both of whom acquitted themselves with honour.
The results of this landmark event are set out below, but thanks go to the Newmarket Real Tennis Club for the use of their facilities, to Sue Dixon for her help with the lunch, to Heggars for turning up at an hour’s notice, and finally to John Burnett, whose enterprise and endeavour produced yet another Philanderers’ day to remember.
Group 1 - "Players" (max games available (30) David Pimblett won 28 games (Players Group Winner) John Burnett won 24 games Gerald Coteman won 23 games Rob Cassels won 23 games Lawrence Bailey won 18 games Graham Hegarty won 14 games
Group 2 - "Novices" (max games available 18) Henry Campbell won 16 games (Novices Group Winner) Rob Gill won 14 games Nick Redmayne won 14 games Gabriella won 12 games (Ladies Winner)