The result was never in doubt.  Hobart won the Bartlett Cup for the eighth straight year as the toll of Tassie hospitality wrecked the promising start of the Ballarat team on Saturday 12th July.  At the end of the first stanza The Rats led 7 matches to 5 and ran close in a couple of others with promise to break a losing streak which is becoming something of a hoodoo.

Analysis of the first day’s play revealed that Will Hoskin and Rob Jolly had a 3-1 scoreline, Hamish Oates down from Sydney for the event, and Ben Jolly down from Footscray stood at 2-2 and Greg Henderson, with a crook wrist, stood at 1-2 for the day although one of those losses for Greg was after two match balls to his team and by the closest of margins at deuce advantage all.  The highlight for the day was Ben’s win over the very experienced gentleman from Hobart, Hans Drielsma.  It was book-ended next day by a loss to ancient and canny Iain Burrows, but that’s another story too painful to retell.  In doubles, Jolly the Elder and Hoskin got the chocolates against the experienced Ron Booth and Graeme Holloway.

As Ian Chambers commented on Ballarat’s facebook at the time, we have lost from such positions of strength before and how prophetic he was.  The stop-at-home Nostradamus called it correctly.

After a fine repast at restaurant Smolt, which I am reliably informed is named after a small salmon, the team succumbed to the wiles of leading Hobart player Hilton Booth.  The lure of good times was siren-like and the hopes of the team were dashed on the rocks….of ice.  And $30 a glass whiskey and much more besides.  There was an Irish pub in there somewhere, Ben had the stamp of entrance to a nightclub on him, but there is no living memory of this venue, and so it all went pear-shaped next day with a solitary win from 9 matches.  Will and Hamish won a fine doubles match and it should be reported that even with a dodgy wrist, Greg Henderson played better than Saturday.  But for the rest, the less said the better.

For those who would like to see first hand the fine play on Saturday and “the other” on Sunday (oh the shame faththther) you can check out the streaming of it all on UTube available also through Ballarat facebook, as well at the Hobart RTC web page.  A good job of live tennis all round set up by Hobart player Simon Dwyer.

And we shouldn’t be too quick to blame team mascot Stuart Strange who was in attendance and supporting and marking (thanks), nor the cooees from Cath, and support from Annie and her sister (is that a movie title?) and Dayna and Amy.

So you see the team had the civilising influence of fine WAGS, but still got off the leash to lose.

The weather was fine, the handicaps realistic this year, frankly we just stuffed up our big chance.  Stage fright?  I don’t recall that being an issue for the 9.00am Sunday start after I was downstairs letting Ben in the front door of the motel at 4.30am.  I’d already had all of two hours sleep by then.  Maybe, it was a condition my late father was apt to warn against, perhaps we were simply over-trained.

Post script:  thanks to Barry Toates for organising and congratulations to Hobart for turning up sufficiently and in good condition to claim the trophy.

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