HSBC Sports Ground, Beckenham
With the AEGON Summer County Cup 2012 underway, Team Captain Ben Disley blogs from the HSBC Sports Ground, Beckenham as the Shropshire Men compete in Group 7 of the men's event . . .
Bagels for Breakfast
When I varied from my normal breakfast routine this morning and opted in for a bagel I had no idea that this was going to be an omen for the day.
I made a couple of changes to the line up to give the younger guys some more experience at this higher level of doubles. Although I knew that this was going to be a tough fixture for them I didn’t quite expect our number 2 pair to be 6-0, 3-0 down after only half an hour.
The only positive that I could see of this situation is that within our team the first person who’s serve is broken will always buy the first round at the hotel bar at the end of the day and fortunately this was not going to be me.
The first round of matches were finished very quickly with our number one pair losing closely 7-5, 7-6 and our number 3 pair losing in 3 sets with the bagel curse striking again by losing the third set 6-0.
We were lucky enough to be visited by Cathie Sabin who is the president and godmother of Shropshire tennis. We were incredibly grateful for her support but unfortunately her presence did not inspire us to raise our performance as the team swiftly lost the second round also with the curse striking again as my partner and I lost our first set 6-0.
The third round was much of the same only brightened by one Rosol like forehand return from David Mackenzie-James that shot off the racket for a clean winner. This was unfortunately slightly eclipsed in the next game as David managed to hit a serve completely out of the grounds and into a nearby road without the ball touching the court. This was voted shot of the day for all the wrong reasons.
So that was day three of Shropshire’s AEGON’s Summer County Cup. We left rather despondently and arrived at the hotel feeling beaten, battered and blue. The dejected atmosphere only lasted until the hotel bar and the team were soon back to normal, discussing the highlights and lowlights of the day and of course all eager to discuss where we were going to have for dinner.
Although today was a day that the team were completely outperformed and I know that at the time they did not take it well at all, I am always relieved to see that at the end of the day they are able to still enjoy and appreciate the experience overall.
We are playing Avon tomorrow and I am hoping that the improvements that I have seen throughout the week will all come together and pay off. I must also remember to stay away from bagels.
Glorious Defeat; if there is such a thing
Today was the day that I knew that if we played it right we could win it. All the new members seemed really up for it and had gotten over their shell shock of the brutality of the first day.
It was an incredibly tough day against the Isle of Man that went right down to the wire.
After 2 rounds of good quality tennis it was 3-3 with it all resting on the last round of matches in the blistering heat.
The team fought really well and our number one pair came out with a solid win against IOM’s number 3 pair. Unfortunately this was quickly followed by IOM’s number 1 pair also doing the same.
We found ourselves tied again at 4-4, with it all resting on the final match, which of course went down to a third set.
As if my nerves couldn’t take any more the match was tied at 4-4 in the final set when after a number of errors at the net the Shropshire boys were finally broken and the IOM pair closed out the third set 6-4.
The boys played well and left everything on the court but it was certainly a disappointment to lose such a close tie.
The hotel bar was a welcoming site afterwards; it was nice to get into the shade with a cold drink and even better to see the team still in good spirits.
Tomorrow is Northumberland who have been on great form for the last 2 days. As long as the boys try as hard as they did today I will be happy.
Today started exceptionally. We got up; had an incredibly artery clogging breakfast and we were ready to leave and head down to the tennis at 9.00am. However we found out that we were not able to leave the hotel as the Olympic torch was just about to go through the town and all roads were closed.
As a captain I thought this was the perfect opportunity to inspire the troops for the day ahead by going down to watch the torch pass. We had a great view.
This tactic apparently didn’t work as we were soundly beaten by Oxfordshire 9-0 in a rather routine fashion.
I would like to say that they were all incredibly close matches and that we were robbed. This is what I would like to say. However Oxfordshire were stronger on the day and enjoyed a thoroughly deserved win played in the right spirit with lots of friendly banter.
It was a very quiet evening with the team nursing broken egos and slightly sunburnt faces. We enjoyed a nice Indian which was made even more special (in a captain’s opinion) with the restaurant awarding us 20% off the bill.
Bring on tomorrow where it is a new day and hopefully we can emerge from the ashes of the fire like a phoenix…or something along that kind of rhetoric that is inspiring.
The journey begins
Gradually and surprisingly painlessly the Shropshire rabble arrived at a sleepy hotel in Bromley very much on time to prepare for AEGON Team Tennis County Cup.
After a quick check in we travelled to the venue only to realise on arrival that someone may have written down the wrong postcode for the wrong club (definitely not me) and almost ended up joining in a 20/20 cricket game instead.
A quick search on the iphone (other smart phones are available) and we typed in the new postcode into the Sat Nav and headed off once more.
We finally found the correct venue at HSBC Sports & Social Club in Beckenham and test out the courts for a good hour….well an hour anyway. The courts, although not quite Wimbledon, were certainly suitable for some of the tennis that I saw and played today and after 20 minutes I found myself wondering whether I would still be accepted in the 20/20 cricket game.
After hitting (and some missing) we journey back to the hotel and learn the fantastic news of Bradley Wiggins winning the Tour de France.
After a quick shower we all journey down to the hotel bar where we have a very chilled out meal at the restaurant where we were served tempura prawns and crème brulee, the supper of very part time athletes followed by lots of drinks …. water of course!
With our first match against Oxford tomorrow we are all heading in for an early night so that we can be there with plenty of time for the first match at hopefully the correct venue to reciprocate Mr Wiggins’ success. Bonsoir.
07/04/13 – 23/06/13, Nationwide
20/05/13 - 25/05/13, The Virgin Active Cardiff Club
26/05/13 - 31/05/13, Felixstowe LTC
27/05/13 - 02/06/13, Queenswood Tennis Centre