By Mark Hartnell, well known Real Tennis tragic and amateur reporter highly regarded for his objectivity.

The weekend of the 12th and 13th of September featured the highly anticipated return leg of the Hobart versus Ballarat tournament.  Regular readers of the Grille will remember yours truly recounting how we somehow managed to get done 6-0 in Hobart last November – but narrowly record a moral victory in several key areas.  Apparently this lead the “Hobartians” to think they had us comfortably covered on our home court and could rest two walk up members of their ideal starting four (there were some rumours that Pete Boyles wife had a child last Thursday and ‘Paris’ Hilton Booth may be injured but I like to think poor judgement and complacency were to blame).  They also didn’t bother to bring the trophy with them (apparently “it’s a bit large” – lame excuse guys, lame) and had some sort of heckling stitched into their Tshirts.


GAME 1 David Parker v Patrick Dunne (number two’s)

Game one saw the power game of ‘Punisher’ Parker matched against the finesse of Patrick ‘Verbal Diarrhoea’ Dunne.  This was an engrossing and extremely tight encounter with repeatedly alternating games between the two.  David applied very good pressure and came up with some good touch.   Pat demonstrated some suprising power, served up a widely varying array and came up with many long winded and fascinating theories explaining the outcome of each and every point (note: this is not confined to his own games).  Pat has recently toured the Real Tennis World and maybe this gave him a slight edge on the big points.  David looked set to get on a roll if he could pinch a set but Pat did just enough to take all three sets 6-5.

GAME 2 – Daniel Williams v Al Ramsay (numero uno’s)

Game two pitted the Big Guns.  This was a match that promised lots – and delivered.  Daniel Williams has recently slipped past Wayne and David on handicap (apparently this does NOT get your name on the Club Championship board automatically).  Al has a lower handicap again but was rumoured to have been in a Good Paddock post recently getting married and to have lost some of the Hunger and Passion.  Apparently the latter is a croc.  The spectators got 5 great sets of tennis.  The game swung through some exhilarating extremes.  Al showed some great power mixed with precision, any slightly loose serves from Daniel seemed to end up at very short chases. Daniel was showing some great court coverage and footwork and constructed a really smart game.  He dominated through most of the fourth set and well into the start of the fifth by serving tight bobble first serves to nullify some of the power on Al’s returns (Al denied they were any good but does anyone ever come off court admiring their opponents bobble serves?).  At 4-0 up with nothing to lose Al threw caution to the wind and left Daniel with a huge dilemma – persist with a tactic which had him within a whisker of winning or change up?  We will never know if boomerangs or any other recipe would have worked and Al won yet another Widmer-Bradfield 5 set rubber.

GAME 3 – Wayne Spring v Graeme Bradfield (number 3’s)

I was heavily criticized after my last Widmer-Bradfield Report for controversial references to the colour of Wayne Spring’s hair and his age.  I will merely quote Wayne announcing in our practice and tactical session that he was looking forward to playing Graeme Bradfield as someone “more his own age”.  This was a fascinating struggle of two players with unspectacular looking serves that don’t give away anything cheap.  Wayne started showing his better court coverage as the match progressed, overcoming Graeme’s heavily hit and accurate floor shots.

GAME 4 – Mark Hartnell v His Own Inner Demons and Graem Holloway (number 4’s)

The day finished an hour and a half behind schedule with few spectators willing to push through the pain barrier in watching what degenerated into a farce.  I will simply say: golf is more exciting than this particular game; it was far from pretty; I apologise to anybody deafened by my screaming; and that I got the job done.

At close of play on day one we had a contest poised at 2-2.  The serious business of putting livers to the test in the battle for hepatic supremacy began.  No clear winners here with the slightly younger demographic outlasting the slightly older demographic – but no clear advantage to either team.


Game 1 – Daniel Williams and Mark Hartnell v Graeme Bradfield and Graeme Holloway

Williams and Hartnell: too fast, too strong and not too hungover.  (Hey, I am writing this crap, I can say what I like)

Game 2 – Spring and Parker v Dunne and Ramsay

This was another great one for the spectators.  A game with the lot.  Highlights included: the unusual ability of Dunne to hit consistent ‘dirty’ winners volleying from the galleries (why use the centre of the strings when tickling the frame is so much harder to read?); the Wayne Spring slightly topspun backhand force at the Grille didn’t seem to miss; and the David Parker ‘keep hitting the ball harder until it doesn’t come back’ tactic. Apparently the idea about Al and the Good Paddock (as mentioned above) is actually some of the male cow manure located in that paddock.  He has now played more sets of Widmer-Bradfield tennis than anyone without losing a match.  He can legitimately say he has a proven five set track record.  Great show guys.   At an early stage of this match it became apparent we couldn’t lose on sets.  I like to think that Wayne and David eased up a bit to make a point – it’s a bit like beating Collingwood, better to do it by the narrowest margin possible.  ‘Til next time.

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