Last Sunday January 21 dawned with grey skies that got progressively greyer as the morning wore on. And before midday the rain had started. Surely this would mean cancellation of the Rye Tennis Club v The Green, Hastings, match for juniors?
By the scheduled start time of 1:30pm it was cold, windy and very, very wet. It was an away match for Rye and although some of the courts at the Green were virtually under water, there were enough hard courts that were draining well, for play to be possible. No professionals would have played in these conditions nor would many of the adult members of the clubs, however the younger generation are clearly made of sterner stuff with hardly any dropping out.
The competition was played under new rules from the LTA (Lawn Tennis Association, the tennis governing body) designed to encourage the young players to be able to have matches against other clubs as well as just playing their friends. Games were, on this occasion, limited to 10 minutes and, rather than the usual tennis scoring, each player was awarded 1 point if they won a rally. At the end of the game the points were totted up and added to the team’s score, so making it a real team effort, not just an individual one.
The teams encompassed an age range from 8 to 14 and it was very noticeable that, despite the weather, when players were called forward to leave the shelter of the clubhouse and go out on to court, there was no hesitation, no complaints and the games were played with a high degree of competitiveness and, given the conditions, in many cases, with considerable skill.
Rye had one or two particularly strong players who helped the score along but credit must go to both teams with players from each sometimes demonstrating skill levels well beyond what might have been expected, given the conditions. By the end of the day though, as players returned to get warm again, and for a well-deserved tea, the score line showed that Rye had won by 30 points
Congratulations to all the hardy souls who took part and thanks, in particular should go to Claire Larkin who, as coach at The Green, bore most of the minute-by-minute organising responsibility and to Frances Candy, the Rye coach for not only producing such good skills from their young charges, but also instilling a degree of enthusiasm for, and joy in the game that so clearly showed through.
Photos: John Minter