Colston Ladies v Benson C, Sunday 25th January 2015

Looking resplendent in our new team kit we set off from Colston to face our one pair Benson opponents. The pressure however was apparent as we all hoped to play as well as our attire suggested we should do…”All the gear and no idea” was not a good thought!
After much discussion about tactics as to who would play first, it was a ball toss which put Helen and Ann on court and Anna and I into the club house for an egg sandwich! Within minutes of stepping on court a nasty cross wind picked up making serves and ‘down the line’ shots difficult. The set began nervously with Helen losing her first service game, but they quickly broke back with some great drives from Ann. As the Colston pair settled, the confidence began to grow and the first set was taken 6:2 to Colston. The opponents came back confidently in the second set and dealt with Helen’s serves and Ann’s slice with tenacity and doggedness…. Some of the balls that came back over the net were definitely not expected by our hard hitting pair! After a bit of back slapping for ‘encouragement’ by Ann to Helen (resulting in a choking fit) and some hard volley practice straight at their net player (sorry afterwards) the second set was taken by Colston 6:2. Helen and Ann put back on their gloves and layers and retired to the club house for a cup of tea and see how Andy Murray was getting on.
So at this point Colston had won 2 sets outright and had been gifted 4 sets from the absent pair from Benson. It was quite tempting to stay in the club house and drink tea but with the crisp clear sky and soaring red kites overhead we started our two sets against a warmed up pair. Anna and I had warmed up during the game but although our muscles were warm and we were hitting the ball well, mentally we were not quite in the zone…This fact jumped up at us at the point we were 2:5 and 15:40 down in the first set. ‘A good point to get’ was foremost in my mind as I served for their set point and suddenly it all clicked into place. Anna and I battled it out and from that point we took the set 7:5. But a bit too much like hard work for comfort really! At this point we started to enjoy the game. The opponents were nice people, the courts had a lovely surface and the day was beautiful if you avoided the blinding sun at one end of the court. We settled into a stride and with a bit of scurrying from me to the drop shots and some precision hitting and volleying from Anna we took the second set 6:2. So much better for the nerves and grey hairs!
So with 8:0 to us to christen our new team outfits we retired to the club house for a chat and tea. A good afternoon with some great shots across the afternoon from everyone!

Colston Ladies v Brackley, Saturday January 17th 2015

Just a quick report from today’s match at Brackley.
After waking up first thing this morning to snow flurries, the last thing I expected to be doing was playing tennis in the sunshine this afternoon….
Unfortunately due to unavailability I struggled to get a full team out today, so Tessa and myself were the only pair to represent Colston and made the road trip to Northamptonshire to Brackley and made good time taking less than the hour we had allocated.
We arrived at Brackley and I then remembered that they have astroturf courts and although the sun was out the courts were only just thawed but perfectly playable.
We made a start and I think the temperature had peaked at 4 degrees so it took some time to warm up and get used to the unfamiliar surface. The ball either didn’t bounce at all or kicked off low and often sideways it was difficult to predict and with the courts also being damp the ball seemed to skid through aswell. So it definitely kept us on our toes and gave the home team plenty of advantage.
We started our first match against their first pair which was a mixture of experience and youth with a very good tall teenager playing…… Tessa and I started slowly and found ourselves 1-3 down as we struggled to predict the bounce, we eventually got it together and my serves were working well on the astro turf and with a couple of aces and Tessa doggedly getting everything back we drew back level to 4-4. We battled on but ended up losing the set 4-6.
We started the second set confidently having pulled back level in the previous set and with the play was getting tighter and tighter the smallest of margins or bounce of the ball was determining the games. We stayed pretty even but lost our concentration towards the end of the set and lost the set again to 4-6.
The temperature was beginning to drop as the sun started to go behind the trees and although Tessa had removed her hat I was still in full fleece and gilet!
We started the second round of matches promptly to another pair of experience and teen energy. This match was just as tight with some breaks and break backs till half way through the set, we kept battling on even though the teenager’s serve was skidding through more and more as the temperature dropped. We managed to stay ahead and by moving them around a bit found ourselves 5-4 ahead, we focused and took the next game to win the set 6-4.
The second set stayed tight with little room for error, but determined to win the set we tried to take advantage of the less experienced teenager and move her around to force an error as if she was in her hitting zone she produced some great shots. we held our nerve and took the second set 6-3.
So 2 sets won out of 4 played by us, unfortunately they get a walk over for the other sets the 2nd pair would have played, so the overall result was 2-6 to them. If we hadn’t played we would have automatically lost 10 points so 2 points is a good result in these circumstances!
Many thanks for Tessa for partnering me and we played some great tennis and a friendly club to visit, so a good afternoon all round.
Hope to catch up with those who an make it on Thursday night and see the rest of you soon.

Colston Ladies v Abingdon, Saturday January 3rd 2015

Just a quick match report from this afternoon, which if you were sat in the comfort of your sofa and an open fire was VERY cold,damp and misty in the outside world…… Perfect for playing tennis????
The very hardy Colston ladies turned up on time with tea in hand and 3 -4 layers of clothing and were raring to go (??)
I was beginning to think I should have bought the new soup maker I had for Christmas, it may be welcome at the end, but surely we would eventually warm up! I wasn’t sure if it was warmer inside or outside the clubhouse.
The Abingdon ladies were also in good time and were happy to get going and warm up, plus we were concerned light may fail us as the mist seemed to be getting thicker.
Helen & I played their second pair first and made good advantage of them struggling to get warm and took the 1st set 6-2, although they found their feet in the second set and 1 of the ladies had a fantastic serve which skidded through on the damp courts, but we upped our game and took the second set 6-0. Although warming up, we were not ready to take a layer off yet….
Carol and Karen had to play their first pair and also struggling to get warm against a very experienced pair and lost the first set 1-6, they battled on but the Abingdon pair were in full swing and took the second set 0-6.
Fortunately we were finished around the same time, so carried on with the second round of matches straight away while we were still vaguely warm.
So Helen and I still in about 4 layers of clothing took on their first pair which we had deduced were  very experienced match players. I think we had caught them off guard as we started out all guns blazing and found ourselves 5-2 up, I even had an ace! They soon regrouped and we were tied into long rallies which we were struggling to cut short and make winners, it came down to who made the  first mistake. We held the lead and took the first set 6-4. The second set was extremely tight and we were chasing all the way through as they served first and with breaks of serve on each side it was nerve racking stuff. Again the rallies were long and 2 left handers who didn’t always come upto the net made us have to think about the tactics a bit more, a couple of short balls would gain a few points, but another endless rally was in the lap of gods as to who would make a mistake. There was some great pick ups on both sides and great tennis played. Eventually we succumbed and lost a tight set 4-6, so drew the second round. Although disappointing to lose such a tight set, it was great tennis and the ladies were very gracious and fair with line calls etc and I think both sides appreciated the quality of tennis that was being produced. We had eventually taken off a layer of clothing by the end of the match!!
While we were battling it out Carol and Karen were playing their second pair, unfortunately I was unable to watch what was going on as our match was so tight. Their second pair had warmed up and I think their strong serve was working well. Carol and Karen seemed also to be having some long rallies and some tight games but lost 1-6, 1-6.
Fortunately we had finished before the Men’s C team so had set up the inside table for tea, although we did offer to squeeze up when they came in, but they didn’t think it was much colder outside!!
The final score was a loss overall of 3-5 sets, but considering it’s the first match since Christmas and most of us hadn’t picked up a tennis racket for several weeks and may have overindulged or is that just me…. It was a solid result.
Well played ladies and I returned home to a very welcoming hot bath to thaw out !!

Colston Mens A v Witney C, Saturday January 3rd 2015

We began our push for a top four finish rather badly I’m afraid. Miles and Chris as always dispatched inferior opposition with aplomb and without dropping a game. Dick manfully dismissed his tonsillitis so as not to let the A team down, but as he had been struggling to eat and felt very ropey we did well against a competent first pair and made it to a tiebreak but this was to be our highpoint of the afternoon- we lost it and the second set slipped away 6-4. Still a 6-2 win was clearly on and would be respectable as I was sure that Miles and Chris would have the measure of them. We took the 1st set 7-5 before slipping to 0-3 in the second. Regrouping, Chris and Miles took the next 6 games on the trot to seal their clean sweep and 4 points for us.

Meanwhile Dick and I were struggling against the 2nd pair- They  did pull off some remarkable returns and defended incredibly well, raising their game from the previous two sets but the truth was that Dick and I just didn’t play well enough. If I had thought about it, given Dick’s state of health,  we should have played as the 1st pair and then we would have Dick at his best against the weaker pair- Our form against the capable 1st pair gave us 10 games in the two sets and against the inferior pair we only got 6 as we faded away. Hope you recovered for the B team game today Dick and thanks again for playing even though you felt so rough- my only excuse was too many bottles of wine and too much food over the last two weeks!!

Colston Mens A v Banbury West End A, Saturday December 6th

And the winning ways duly returned.

It was difficult winning games from the end facing into the strong low winter sun- a typical Colston winter match- But at least we didn’t have to content against any wind!

Olly and I made short work of the 2nd pair, only dropping one game across the two sets.

Meanwhile John and Gavin were struggling against the 1st pair and lost the first set before going up a gear to take the second impressively 6-2. John hitting the ball with his customary ferocity and Gavin finding some great angles.

3-1 at the half way point and all was looking good but Olly and I struggles against the 1st pair- they liked to charge the net and volleyed well and we didn’t find a way to defeat this and worryingly Gavin and John were struggling to kill off the 2nd pair and arrived at a tiebreak- the match might depend on this and thankfully Gavin woke up in time to support his partner.

In the second set, like John and Gavin before us, Olly and I went up a gear and  served and volleyed well to halve the rubber and take the match followed seconds later by Gav and John finishing off the second pair in a comfortable 2nd set.

Left feeling we should have had 7-1 but can settle for 6-2 as it keeps us in the hunt despite the two previous losses

Just need another win next Sunday to set us up for a final push after X-mas- Uphill task and we’ll need some good wins but it is still a possibility.

Colston Ladies A v David Lloyd B, Sunday 30th November

Our match on Sunday was played in beautiful low winter sunshine with the gentle to blustery cross court wind that Colston hosts to perfection.
We gathered, Helen , Ann (super sub)  Anna and myself and gave ourselves a quick team talk. David Lloyd were second in our division and had only lost two sets this season but after the week Emma had been through we were going to try hard for her…. And a slice of the Victoria sandwich cake Anna had baked!
The men’s B team were playing also so we hid our homemade tea and started our match. Anna and I started against the second pair and enjoyed two great sets. We settled into our game and after some excellent tennis from both sides the scores were 7:5,6:4 to us.
Helen and Ann were also settling well and with their matching shades and shared cap they also took the first two sets 6:3,6:2. Good stuff into the brief break.
We resumed play and from the outset the first pair from David Lloyd were very focused and vocally supportive of each other’s shots. Anna and I tried a variety of shots but luck eluded us as the ball seemed to fail to clip the back of the line by a whisker on numerous occasions it seemed. So frustrating! The sun dropped and blinded us at times so it was a relief when it finally dropped! We couldn’t close out our games and lost the sets 2:6,4:6.
Ann and Helen meanwhile battled on with great volleys and ground strokes and clinched their two sets 6:4,6:3.
We retired to negotiate table room from the men’s team and rescue our food from the changing rooms to eat smoked salmon bagels, homemade Parmesan crackers, cakes galore and homemade choc cookies! Delicious!

Final score 6:2 to Colston and some excellent tennis played by everyone .
Good team effort.

Colston Ladies A v Portcullis, Sunday 16th November

After the long drive we arrived in a busy car park and dodged the puddles and the various rugby players to get the tennis courts. We started pretty quickly so we didn’t have to stand around in the cold for long. Karen and I had a shaky start against their first pair, having never played with each other before and lost the first set 1-6. We started to find our feet in the second and managed to get a few more games ending the set 4-6. Carol and Anna fared much better against the second pair and managed to beat them 7-5, 6-2 with some driving forehands and great volleys.

Karen and I were much better matched with their second pair and although we lost the first set 1-6 again, we came back with some great angled volleys and fantastic lobs to win the second set 7-5. This time Carol and Anna didn’t get on so well and lost to their first pair 2-6, 2-6. The floodlights had to be turned on mid way through the second match as the misty damp air meant that it started to get dark and difficult to see the ball.

We really enjoyed the afternoon of tennis even though we didn’t do as well as we would have liked, all of the opposition were great players and gave us a good game although we were happy when the time came to have a cup of tea and an amazing piece of Mary Berry’s Victoria sponge!

Colston Mens A v Oxford City B, Sunday November 9th

Alas it is not good news- we went down 7-1.

It was great to have Hamish and Foreshew reunited and Mr Foreshew in particular got through a lot of running against a good 2nd pair- they fought back from 5-2 down in the first set to only lose it 6-4. But the recovery didn’t continue and they lost the second set.

Meanwhile Gavin and I were up against the best 1st pair we’ve faced so far and lost 6-1, 6-0. We had some tight games but they were far too good. One player normally plays for the A team but had only played one game for them so far and so is still eligible- We can’t complain as we have done/do the same thing.

We did discuss the up and down nature of their results this year and they said they struggle for a consistent team- Just our luck that we got a good one!

Hamish and Chris managed a couple more games than us but were never in with a chance of taking a set.

Gavin and I lost the first 4 games to the 2nd pair and a white wash was on the cards. But then we regrouped, changed tactics (Concentrate on depth and getting to the net), Gavin found his fast serve and we created pressure. We took 9 of the next 11 games (Lost first set 6-3, and took the next 0-6). Would have won a third also if it was the summer rules but alas had to settle for the 7-1 result. Just a shame it took us 4 games to work them out!!



Colston Ladies A v Farringdon C, Saturday November 1st

Saturday dawned bright and sunny for our match at home with Faringdon C team. As we stepped out onto court the relevance of the sun and wind became apparent… It was going to be a game of two ends. One end of the court bathed in sheltered sun and the other end a howling gale of shadows and black holes to lose sight of the ball! Lobs into the sun then!
Ann and I started well against the second pair consisting of a wily seasoned player and an agile 18 yr old. After a couple of games we settled into “our bubble” and with good communication secured the first set 6:3. The second set was enjoyable and with my ground shots working and Ann’s fantastic volleys the second set was ours at 6:0. Time for a quick cuppa while we watched the end of Teresa and Heildili’s game against the first pair. There were some great rallies and fine tennis but it became apparent that the net play of one of the pair was of a pretty high standard. A good match fought but Faringdon took the sets 6:4, 6:3. So a draw at half time…..

The conditions if possible became even more tricky as we resumed play. The sun had dropped into the line of vision  (even for the short ones like me!) and there were many calls of “can’t see it” from the net. The wind had picked up and we watched an amazing down the tramline shot of Ann’s blow sideways and off court…. So frustrating! We battled on but that ” irritating net player” got to many balls and kept volleying with impossible angles that we could only admire. Our first set we lost closely at 5:7 with many deuces. The elusive second set for Ann and I was rather déjà vu as we found ourselves serving for the set at 6:5 to eventually lose in a tie break. Great tennis though and good teamwork all round. Thank you Ann for covering my posterior!

Luckily Heidili and Teresa had battled on brilliantly and after some excellent ground strokes from Heidili and unlikely gets from Teresa they took their sets 6:3,7:6. A great result for a pairing who introduced themselves in the knock up! Off to tea and a well earned slice of lemon and poppy seed cake!

So a draw overall on a testing afternoon which showed that we can all play a mean game of tennis even with the elements against us! Well played all.


Colston Ladies A v Goring, Sunday 19th October

Just a quick report from today’s match at Goring.
We set off in the sunshine on a beautiful scenic drive to Goring, the first of many distant away matches this season….. Although 1 or 2 of the players were following the men’s example and were a little delicate from the previous nights activities, no names!
We arrived at a lovely club similar to Colston and as we were early we got going straight away and soon realised there was a strong gusty crosswind, which was proving to test our patience.
Helen & I started well against their second pair and took the first set 6-1. We continued to take control of the second set and were 3-0 up when we seemed to go into a little day dream and dropped to their level and found ourselves at 3-3! Disappointed to have let the lead slip we had a good talk to each other and finally got back on track to take the second set 6-4.(phew!!)
Anna & Carol meanwhile were confidently despatching there first pair 6-1 in the first set. Some great volleys and ball placement securing the 2nd set 6-2. I probably should have been concentrating on my own game at this stage not admiring Anna & Carol’s play, this was when we were having our little day dream…..
So first round of matches 4 sets to Colston.
After a quick sandwich and team talk to discuss the oppositions strengths & weaknesses we started the second round of matches.
The sandwich did the trick and Helen & I started the 1st set confidently and it was quickly taken 6-1. We were determined not to day dream this time in the second set and kept our focus and attacked at the net and the set was dispatched quickly to love.
Anna & Carol also started well and swiftly took the 1st set 6-0.
This time I was concentrating on my own game so didn’t watch their game, but a second set taken to love says it all….
So job done , perfect start to our season with a 8-0 win.
Well played everyone and hope the rest of the season continues in the same way !