Colston Mens A v Mapledurham, Saturday June 25th 2016


England completed the whitewash down under and the fab four repeated the feat at Colston.

Gavin and I started well against their first pair who had one very good player- we just kept it away from him as much as possible- he had a top spin backhand as good as any we’ve faced and moved fast but with good play we took the first set and were neck and neck in the second despite some erratic volleying from his lordship- the best of which saw him standing at the net as the ball gently arrived at waist height and not only did he miss the court with the volley he hit Chris on the adjoining court!!

Thankfully Gavin’s ground strokes were brilliant and after a “gentle” word from the captain he started volleying as well.

We took the rubber with a 7-5 second set.

Miles and Chris made short work of the 2nd pair and then it followed it up with a strong performance against the 1st to take the match.

Gavin and I stormed to the 1st set but then went to sleep a bit and found ourselves 3-1 down in the 2nd.. More stern words and we took the next 5 games

Finally we get the result that reflects our capability.

Onwards and upwards

Colston Mens A v Appleton A, Saturday June 4th 2016

Things did not begin well on Saturday as 5 mins into the warm up Miles screamed in agony as he chased a ball- It turns out he was not fully recovered.

We took a tactical decision to change the pairings and give him the young, fit Fyson to run for him.

As they beat a good 2nd pair 0 and 2 the plan seemed to be working. One half of this pair was stronger than the other and indeed was in the 1st pair when we previously played them. Meanwhile Chris and I were pushing a very good 1st pair hard, narrowly losing 4 and 4  but with each game lasting through several deuces- good prep for the 2nd pair in terms of us working out how to play together, less good in terms of energy reserves!

So at the half way point things were going pretty well given the enforced change.

Chris and I started well and although the weaker player in the 2nd pair was annoyingly starting to find form we still took the first set 6-3.  But we just seemed to run out of steam and lose a little of our edge- allowing them to take it 6-2. On the other court the story was the other way round- Miles and Henry losing the 1st and fighting back in the second.

So, as against KB in our first match, we entered deciding sets in both rubbers. And as against KB, despite stiff resistance, we lost both.

A disappointing end that masks some outstanding tennis by all players, but I think we just ran out of gas.

If we had known how strong their 1st pair were (One player in particular barely made a mistake all afternoon and attacked at every opportunity) we probably would have left the pairs as they were and settled for a draw- think both original pairs would have beaten the 2nd pair, but hindsight is a wonderful thing J.

So with  1 point from 3 matches the priority is to secure a couple of wins to alleviate the pressure of being in the relegation zone. We’ve had our chances to win all three matches but just fallen short- Next time………..

Colston Mens A v David Lloyd B

Acting captain forgot the chalk and I’m afraid we had to settle for a draw.  Read on for further detail…

Not knowing when I would get the honour of captaincy again and wanting to leave some small legacy,  I took the decision to grant Gav his long held dream of a place in the 1st pair.  Lord S and Henry, his young padawan, fully justified their ranking by confidently dispatching the oppo’s 2nd pair 6-2 6-2.  Unfortunately on the neighbouring court Olly and me were living down to our no2s status against their 1st pair who were very accomplished match players, got out of the blocks quicker and played the wet conditions better 3-6 3-6.  Colston 1st pair for the day made a better fist of it vs their firsts.  One particularly flashy rally ending with a sublime Stevens backhand kill.  Those who saw it will never forget the Stevens celebration – for the closest vision I can think of please see attachment (Moller being something of a cult hero up in Scotland of course).  Despite some great play by our boys, their 1sts, while really not looking the part, were annoyingly good, and won the day 6-4 6-2.  Olly and I had to take the their 2nds to prevent a home defeat.  The step down from playing their 1sts was significant and we cruised the first set 6-1 and were 4-1 up in the 2nd when it began to rain again and we lost the plot pretty badly slipping to 4-5 down and staring a humiliating capitulation in its damp face.  Luckily we got a life (might have shouted that to myself rather loudly a few times) and closed it out 7-5.  Sadly neither Olly nor I played close to our best the whole afternoon, maybe two 1st pairs next match is the answer.
They were a decent bunch, who have won both their previous 2 matches.  Traditional Colston hospitality and bonhomie was to the fore after and we left the clubhouse in a better state than we found it, after a Swiss friend of mine, visiting for the weekend, took it upon himself to hoover the whole place – that’s how entertaining the tennis was!

Colston Mens A v Kingston Bagpuize Saturday August 22nd 2015

And so the summer season ends.

We had been promised thunderstorms but they didn’t materialise either climatically or on the court. Instead we played out the final game in 28C and bright sunshine with Mr Gibson struggling to keep going through the heat induced fatigue.

Miles and I started against the 2nd pair which consisted of a father and son pairing and it was soon clear that the 13 year old was a very good player already- If we play him in 3 years time we could be in trouble. His father was the weaker of the two and despite not being at our best, by concentrating our fire on him and avoiding the son we were always in control of the rubber despite only winning it 6-4, 6-4.

Gavin and Paul were locked in a close tussle with their 1st pair but they lost despite playing some very good tennis at times. Paul’s verdict- each of us played well- just never at the same time J. Hence we won several games without being able to put together the necessary number in a row to bring home a set.

So one rubber each at the half way point and all to play for.

Their 1st pair were also a bit of a mismatch in terms of ability with their captain (unlike ours!! Thought I’d make the joke before anyone else did!!) being very good and his partner less so. So Miles and I deployed the same strategy as the first rubber to race to a 6-1 victory in the first set. In the second their  captain decided to go for everything and be really aggressive and Miles and I relaxed a little and before we knew what was happening we were 3-0 down and even Miles’ serve couldn’t get us back into it. We lost it 6-0- Felt a bit like the ashes series.

So we regrouped, were more positive, and made it even harder for their captain to get involved. We raced to a 5-1 lead before again relaxing too soon and letting them win 3 on the trot.  But, summoning every reserve, Miles served us into a 40-0 lead and despite losing one match point took the 2nd and hence secured the half- unfortunately Paul and Gavin, despite again playing some brilliant shots (One backhand of Gavin’s in particular was sublime and left them in stunned silence) had lost to their 2nd pair.

So we finish with 3 wins, I draw and 2 losses- A total of 10 points which will leave us in 3rd or 4th slot depending on other results. If only one of the losses had been a draw we would probably be going up- annoying as Oxford City who we beat will now go up, possibly even as champions!

But as always it was fun, we played some good tennis, buried some opponent who have troubled us before, a few crucial sets slipped away, and we finished in the top half despite having been promoted the previous season.

Bring on the winter season- when hopefully Mr Foreshew will be recovered, Olly will manage more than two matches, Paul will continue his new found availability (Played 50% of the summer matches- unheard of), Miles’ country fairs/markets won’t clash with fixtures, Gavin won’t spend too much time shooting at  p(h)easants and with two matches each from the bears we can always put out a strong team!!


Dream on…………

Colston Ladies v Benson – Last Match of the 2015 Summer Season!

We played the last match of the summer league in probably the hottest day of the summer…..

After struggling to get players for this fixture Rosie the 12 year old super sub stepped in and I strapped up my dodgy knee and hoped for the best. Carol and Helen the other 2 fighting fit players in the team.

After an hours drive we found the club at Benson relatively easily and started to warm up while the other Benson players arrived. Although with the heat today we didn’t need much warming up!

Helen & I started against their 2nd pair and cruised the first set 6-0, although the second set didn’t quite go so smoothly….. we found ourselves 2-3 down and having to work hard to stay with them. The Benson pair were making less mistakes and one of the ladies was perfecting a high defensive lob landing on the baseline with an extremely high bounce and short run back area making it an impossible ball to get as you ran into the back netting especially for us vertically challenged players! It also cut out the net player, so a bit of frustration had set in.

We dug in although it wasn’t always pretty tennis getting the job done and pulled back to 4-4. Keeping the ball low to avoid the high baseline bouncing ball we managed to pull ahead for the first time to 5-4. Determined not to let the lead go after working so hard to get in front we finally took the final set 6-4, relieved and beginning to feel the heat headed to their clubhouse to replenish water bottles and try to cool down a little.

Meanwhile Carol and Rosie were up against their first pair and seemed to be having some long rallies, so it was difficult to know how they were doing from our court. The Colston pair were both volleying well at the net and placing balls deep behind the net player on the baseline for winners. Carol & Rosie had taken the first set 6-3, with plenty of re- assurance and direction from Carol, Rosie was playing well and they were working well as a team, whipping through the second set 6-1. I think taking them both by surprise as the Benson pair were quite hard hitting and strong at the net if they got the chance.

So first round of matches and Colston were 2 rubbers up…..

After a little rest and slight cool down we started the 2nd round of matches.

Helen and I started strongly against their 1st pair who were fairly strong , but they were inconsistent and lacked of bit of team work which worked to our advantage and we took the first set 6-1. Aware that in the last match we struggled to find the same form in the second set we continued to attack, even though the heat was beginning to sap the energy from us. We held form this time and took the second set 6-0 and glad that we could head out of the heat and have a sit down!! I think that Carol and Rosie had knocked the confidence of the first pair by beating them so easily in the first round of matches which worked in our favour.

Carol and Rosie were however in for the long haul.

With long rallies and the devilish high bouncing defensive baseline lob in full working order for the Benson pair our pair had their work cut out.

Colston battled on and still made lots of winners to take the first set a very long 7-5. The second set was just as tight as the temperature soared and Colston this time lost the set 3-6. A tie breaker would decide the match…. It was going to be tight. Helen and I tried to watch from a discreet distance so not to put them off, but as their energy levels were dipping rapidly they were unlucky to lose the tie break 7-10.

We had still won overall 3-1 in rubbers a great way to finish the season on a high.

Carol and Rosie were so close to taking that last match that it was nearly the perfect ending to the season and I would like to thank Carol for being so supportive and positive throughout both matches today which definitely brought out Rosie’s best tennis and they had great teamwork and communication which is essential for doubles play.

 For the other ladies who played today a little reassurance that even Rosie was shattered tonight and headed to bed early without being asked, she may  have more sympathy now when I get home tired after playing a long match!!!

 I think we will have finished mid table overall, which is a good solid finish for this season. I will let you now the final position once the last round of matches have been updated.

The next ladies social tennis night will be Monday 15th September, 7.30pm at Colston, please bring anyone else you may have been playing with over the summer who isn’t on my current email list as the more the merrier and any teenagers lurking in the background .

 Enjoy the last couple of weeks of the summer and catch up with you all soon.




Colston Mens A v Virgin Active B

Alors! Our tea may not have been up to its usual very high standard but fortunately our tennis was back on song With the help of one of the Bears stars, Hamish C, we ran out 4-0 winners against a solid Virgin Active team.

Despite a sluggish start by the acting captain, Olly and I only dropped a game against their second pair in the first set and bageled them in the second. We were nicely warm and ready for the 1st pair but as it turned out had quite some time to wait…Gav and H served for the 1st set twice against their number 1s but failed to convert. This, however, was clearly part of a longer term strategy to inflict maximum psychological damage as our boys went on to take the tiebreak and the second set more easily against a demoralised Virgin unit.

It was not all plain sailing for me and Olly against their 1st pair which consisted of a steady eddie and a talented youth – not steady enough however and despite a range of impressive topspins from the back of the court, the youth’s net game was not up to it and we took it 6-3 6-2. Again any ideas of a quick finish on the next door court did not materialise. The oppo’s 2nds took the first set but our boys redoubled concentration (or began to concentrate) and stormed through to take the next 2 sets 7-5 6-3

Frustrating that a team we have beaten is likely to go up instead of us, but if Wantage beat Ox City and Kingston B or Banbury manage a draw with Thame then we still have a chance……

Colston Wimbledon Fete a Great Success! Saturday July 11th 2015

A fun packed afternoon, attended by members and non members, saw the first ever Colston Wimbledon Fete launch on Saturday.

With our friends at Flint & Lambourne Marquees providing a perfect setting, with two magnificent red and white tents on the old grass courts, we were set for an afternoon of fun.



The egg throwing stall was quick to gather an enthusiastic audience as participants battled to throw and catch eggs as far apart as they could. The result was one particular child (the editors son!) ending up literally with egg on his face (well his head!!)


The fastest serve drew in some enthusiastic participants eager to show off their skills and attendees were fed and watered via a BBQ and bar.

To further add to the atmosphere Rod Bridge and Gareth Tridgell played and sung through the afternoon and, as the sun shone, a steady stream of visitors graced the Colston grounds.IMG_0945IMG_0946

Ben Morley, using his usual ingenuity, managed to pipe the Wimbledon Ladies Final into the club house with a core group settling in with their strawberries and cream and a glass of Pimms!

All in all a fun day and, one hopes, the start of an annual event.


Thanks to all who helped.


Colston Mens A v Wantage B, Saturday June 20th 2015

The tea was magnificent. Chris and Kelly providing a wonderful range of freshly made rolls, quiches and pork pies. And then in a novelty for the men’s A team two homemade cakes courtesy of Jane Stevens (Chocolate) and Paul’s mum (Victoria sandwich). Sure the ladies team rise to these heights but this was a first for the men (Albeit provided by 3 women!!!)

Oh yes- the tennis.

Well let’s just say the tea was a lot more enjoyable and of a far higher standard. Gavin and I had one purple patch where we won  7 games on the trot against the 1st pair dropping only 3 points- we attacked making passing shots and killing volleys. Bizarre that we only managed 7 other games in the rest of the afternoon. So we halved against the first pair and lost to the second. Other than that brief period of excellence we lacked consistency and the ability to kill the point against the best defenders in the division.

Similar story for Chris and Paul- just not consistent enough to bring home a set despite occasional brilliance and more worryingly Chris was struggling with his heel and it looks like it will take a while to recover.

So we lost 0.5 rubbers to 3.5 and Wantage will now march on to promotion (For sure) and the title (Probably)

Colston Mens A v Thame B, Saturday 14th June 2015

A fiercely fought afternoon of good tennis against a very good team who were demoted last season. If these guys were the worst in division 4 then promotion to that division (should it come) will give us no soft matches.

I decided to make Lord Stevens and myself the first pair and we started very badly- losing 4 games on the trot to a very solid and consistent 2nd pair before working out that we couldn’t win it by playing safe. We needed to attack, serve volley and get to the net whenever possible, we won a game and then lost another for 5-1 but from that point on we won the rubber convincingly 11 games to 7- but that still meant we finished with a tie break in each set. We lost the first 8-6 but won the second 7-4 (and it shouldn’t have gotten that far- confident we would have won a 3rd set if there’d been one!!). After 2hrs they were pretty exhausted and we had nicely softened them up for Chris and Paul (Now gelling as a partnership) to take them 6-2, 6-2.

If only Gavin and I had played well from the start this should have brought us a draw but 1.5 rubbers to 0.5 against the 2nd pair opened the door for their 1st pair to win the match.

And their 1st pair was very impressive- Chris commenting that one player was invincible- and they had beaten Chris and Paul before Gavin and I had even finished the first set against the 2nd pair. They began strongly against us also but we matched them before losing 6-4. The second set also felt close but the score line tells a different story as we lost 6-2 and with it the match. We could at least enjoy watching the last 5 minutes of Paul and Chris finishing off their opponents.

If only Gavin and I had managed a couple more points in that first tiebreak- or better still not given them a 5-1 head start- we would have a draw and a point!

And so on to next Saturday- back at home- same team- and a must win match against Wantage B.

Colston Ladies v Brackley, Sunday 31st May 2015

 We all drove to Colston through the rain wondering if our faith in the weather prediction was going to be false but as we warmed up the rain clouds drifted off leaving a pleasant afternoon to play our match against Brackley.
Jules (thank you for standing in last minute for an injured Karen) and Teresa started play against the Brackley first pair and maximising Jules’ height at the net and Teresa’s competent backhand confidently took the first set 6:4. They were playing well as they went into the second set however the match experienced Brackley pair regrouped, fought back and took the second set. So Jules and Teresa halved their first pair. Good tennis.
Helen and I started against the second pair and, after a warm up where Helen was cursing her serve, she unleashed some of her more devastating paced serves and we took the first set 6:2.  We continued into the second set and were relaxed and warmed up. My volleys were working and we were both running when we had to and after an enjoyable set we won 6:0.
The threatened rain clouds had passed over and so we quickly swapped courts to face our equivalent pairings. At this point Helen and I had a bit of a sugar dip (or absence of tennis accuracy!) and all of our previous cracking shots were just the wrong side of the line! In what seemed the flash of an eye we lost the first set 1:6! We critiqued our game and looked for solutions….. hit harder and all would be fine. After Brackley took the next three games we decided that wasn’t a good plan! Both of us were now getting cross (even behind her sunglasses I could tell Helen’s eyes were glinting fiercely!) and ‘crossness’ seemed to do the trick. We steadied up our game and traded shots while we worked out the spaces and suddenly the tables turned and we were on a roll. We had commitment in our shots and belief in what we were up to and the next four games came our way. Then we matched games up to 6:6.  Tie break to stay in it! At this point we had eaten enough of Helen’s sweets to be on a dynamic sugar high and we managed to get the 7 precious points. Straight into the third set of a previously agreed championship tie break (to ten points). Nothing really existed outside of the single court at this time and keeping score of the points. We kept our heads against a strong pair and although it seemed to take an age to get the last two points we were so pleased to win the tie break 10:5!
We paused briefly to watch the end of the battle between the second pairs and saw some amazing rallies. Both Jules and Teresa were strong at the net and had some very dependable ground strokes against the well matched Brackley duo. Most of the games went to deuce but the final score of 5:7, 5:7 doesn’t portray the effort exerted! An excellent standard of tennis.
We retired for tea of a mountain of delicious sandwiches and homemade cakes to try and work out the rubbers as a team game! We agreed on 2.5:1.5. So Colston were the winners in the end but Brackley should be pleased with how they played. Close match.
Well played ladies.