I can’t believe it! Another saying that originated in Court Tennis. It all started in the old Prince’s Court in London. Farquar Popplethwaite was infamous for ‘bottling’ it on key points. So much so he was known as “carton” because he really did have no bottle! He typically missed his first serve, and regularly fumbled his second serve, missing that a lot too. One day, his biggest supporter, his mother, was explaining why he did this. “He’s simply very generous! Honestly, I think he does it on purpose. In fact he’s so generous he’ll double fault for you!!” Over time people in the club started using “generous to a double fault” as an “in” joke and it spread.

You and I know the saying as “generous to a fault” but it started as “generous to a double fault teehee!!”

Anyway …… Prince’s Court members continue in this caring mindset because we really do ensure our visitors enjoy themselves. The British Army sent a crack squad to “form a square” and set up bivouacs behind the leather sofas. Once their camoflage was washed off and their racquets sufficiently sharpened in preparation for some serious hand to hand combat, the war began. Major Tench was up first against Vu and this match set the tone. Hard, accurate and competitve for every point. The helicopter pilot just managed to lift off in the end and soared away with a 10/8 victory. Our next line of defense was Haven. They sent in the tanks and heavy artillary in the form of Lieutenant Colonel J T E James Illingworth. Haven held the line valiantly and resisted barrage after barrage. Eventually, his one man defense could hold out no longer and the British Army notched up their second victory 10/5. Next up for the Brits was a team flown in under the cover of darkness (probably from Afghanistan but we can’t say that – oops!). Mssrs O’Dwyer and Thornton.

In their way was a man who’s seen it all and some, the Ambassador himself, Mr Temple Grassi, partnered by our new rising star Matt Fraidin. Unfortunately, yomping over mountains with 200 pounds of back pack had resulted in the Army team skipping around the court as though on jet packs! 10/4 to the Army and things were looking pretty bleak for Prince’s Court trying to win the Fowler-Hamilton Cup. Four matches would be a tie, five were needed for out right victory. The last 2 for the Army were Andrew Speed and Mark White. They faced Temple and Cecilia this time. This was it for Prince’s Court. Temple and Cecilia played well throughout the match but could not shake the British Bulldogs off. At 8 all it was still nip and tuck. Once again the call of Queen and country proved too influential and the Army eeked out victory at 10/8.

Four battles had been won but the war wasn’t over. The Prince’s team had been hacked down to a state of immobility, however they were still prepared to use whatever they had left to at least force a draw (biting was all that was left metaphorically!). Mark Philpott and Jeanne Gengler set about the task. They faced the Major and his Lieutenant Colonel. What a battle it was! Grenades, bazookas, air support – the whole shabang! Mark and Jeanne threw everything at them but these two had been in stickier situations than this. Neither team could get ahead and so we ended up with a sudden death game at 9 all. These Army folk don’t seem to have the crumbling gene and once again came out on top.

That was it! Five out of eight and the war was over. The Fowler-Hamilton Cup was theirs.

Patricio won his match 10/7. Cecila and David Berry won theirs 10/6 and Charlie Steele held what was left of our battered fort together and won 10/6 too. So the final score was 5 – 3 to the Army. This was our first defeat in the Fowler-Hamilton for quite some time.

Temple provided delicious sandwiches for lunch coupled with beer and wine. 

The chaps came back the following day to say goodbye. Sara Lacombe provided amazing cheeses, Haven some fantastic wine and Temple once again with the sandwiches. Temple was presented with a lovely picture of the “Passing Out Parade” at Sandhurst (with two of the team in it) and one of their tour shirts. The shirt was in honour of one of their comrades who had been killed in Afghanistan (and was a keen Real Tennis player) – how lucky we are that these guys are out there looking after us?

Over and out

Squadron Leader Pip Shanone