Sutton’s Mighty 5ths went into battle on Sunday with most of their team missing. Indeed, only two of the squad was available – Jason and Mike. Accordingly, we called on two old friends to fill the breach in the form of Steve Tiddy and Private Pike. Together, our quartet rocked up to Reedham Park to face their second team knowing that, the way Dulwich are playing at the moment, an away win was likely to be needed to keep the pressure on at the top of the table. Both pairs had a combined age of about 100 (Mike and Steve bring a lot of, ahem, experience to the team) and it’s worth remembering that the only other time Steve has played for us, he ended up in A&E afterwards – he always gives it everything.
I am told that I picked the wrong match to be away. I am told that I missed an epic. I am told that being on the next court to Steve and Chris is a wonderful experience. I will do my best to relay to you a classic experience which I also missed.
Naturally, Jason and Mike played as first pair and opened up against Reedham’s first pair. Naturally, our boys brought it home in straight sets 6-2 6-3 (it’s Jason and Mike, what other result were you expecting?)
Steve and Chris took on the opposition second pair and engaged in a truly classic encounter. They fought like lions, saving a multitude of set points in the opener and I am told that they saved each one brilliantly. Now, when I say that they ‘fought like lions,’ I mean it in so many ways. I mean that their courage in saving all those set points was impressive. I mean that Chris actually managed to fight with his own racquet (we all know that Chris is prone to a spot of racket throwing and it’s best not to pick him for hardcourt matches – soft surfaces make his frames last far longer). I mean that Steve and Chris fought with each other (Steve shouting at Chris to cut out the errors – who saw that one coming?) and I mean Chris fighting with the opponents because they couldn’t agree the score! All this entertainment led to a 7-5 7-6 victory and a truly vital point for Sutton from a scratch partnership. I think that if Reedham Park had known we were sending this pair, they’d have built a grandstand and sold tickets!
No rest for the wicked as Steve and Chris then took on the opposing first pair and went for the point needed to win the tie. Not an easy task but they don’t like things easy – our boys like a challenge (well, a fight actually, they like a fight). First blood went to Steve and Chris 7-6 (oooh) but Reedham Park fought back to level 6-7 (ahhhh) so it would be down to a champions’ tie-break to decide this rubber (eeee). Eventually, Reedham Park prevailed 10-5.
Finally, it was down to Jason and Mike to take on the opposition second pair to have one more shot at going for that vital point needed for the overall victory – otherwise we’d draw and that would mean a dropped point in our title chase. The fact that our superstars only just won this one 7-5 6-4 adds further to the impressive nature of our second pair’s win against these players. It is not easy to play with someone you’ve never played a match with before and do the business straight away.
I am told that, such was the epic nature of the contest, the match ended in hugs all round (sounds a bit more like a ladies tie to me but let us presume that the hugs were manly and that backs were slapped hard enough to leave bruising).
Where does this leave us overall? Well, with three matches played and three wins secured, it leaves us top of the league. Moreover, it transpires that Dulwich have now hosted Cheam Fields and could only manage a draw. This league will almost certainly be won either by Dulwich or by Sutton’s Mighty 5ths – both are undefeated and riding high. Dulwich have two significant advantages over us – firstly, they have three home fixtures while we only have two (that’s 8 consecutive seasons of only having two home ties) and secondly, that extra home fixture is against us (next Sunday at 2pm). Still, they need a win and we only need a draw to be favourites going into the final round of fixtures. Moreover, we will be sending a very strong team to Dulwich going all out for the win.
I would like to thank Reedham Park for their hospitality and we all wish them well in their remaining matches. I must also, once again, thank Steve and Chris for stepping in and helping out. As an aside, while the Mighty 5ths are in Dulwich next Sunday, Chris will be leading his own team (the 6ths) in an away match – at Reedham Park! They really can build a grandstand and sell tickets now they know what an entertaining player he is.
Forrest Gump once famously observed that ‘life is like a box of chocolates – you never know what you’re going to get.’ I prefer to say that life is like a deck of cards – we played ours well and our message to Dulwich ahead of next Sunday is:
Reedham and weep!