Little Local Larrikins Part Three: Dodgy Disputes and Sour Shots

Every time I think that it is easier to wake up before the sun has risen I seem to get surprised by my complete lack of willpower that forces my body to magically spring to life. Another gruelling early morning wake up is as tough as ever, as my mattress is as comforting as Jack Gunston having a set shot for goal if you are a Hawthorn supporter. As I am a Collingwood supporter, the cooler world outside of my wonderful bed is as heart wrenching as watching Travis Cloke having a set shot forty metres out to decide the game. But I still rise and meet the great Cloke, as his accuracy is proven after about half an hour, which is when I can finally keep my eyes open for a sustained period of time.

After the early morning ritual is complete, I’m in the car and heading towards the home haven of Eltham Tennis Club. Situated right next to Eltham train station, the club has all in all seven courts, with four being magnificent and plush carpet courts with a hint of en-tout-cas, while the other three, including the notorious court five, are full en-tout-cas.

Court Five, which is a possible dungeon inside of a paradise, is as terrible a court – quality wise – that a tennis player can get. It is hidden away in the far corner like a disregarded step son, as many trees overhang the court and drop any miscellaneous objects onto it, including branches, twigs and such a large amount of leaves that the majority of the lines are clouded by them.

When I walk into the courts, I straight away cast my eyes towards the billboard, which has the information of which courts my team will play on. I scan through the list like a spy on a mission, as I finally find ‘Boys Section Five’ next to courts six and seven. Oh yes! They are the two most wonderful courts to play on, as they are the two courts with the highest quality carpet surfaces. Say goodbye to dodgy lines that stick out of the ground at awkward angles, because I’m playing on an even surface!

All of the pleasantries are exchanged between Luke, Hamish, Lewis and I, as we prepare to start our battle against ECCA. As I ponder about what ECCA stands for, I come to the realisation that I finally get to play in my designated spot of number three, as I have been placed up at number two for my first two matches. I kickstart my day of tennis with Hamish, as play gets underway.

Yet again I serve first, and yet again I start off horribly. But this time I resurrect my serve after two points, with the lesson from last week being still freshly imprinted on my mind. We are still down 30-40 though, as a long baseline rally occurs. I get a forehand that is perfectly set for me to control the point. I rip my racquet through the ball, putting some decent amounts of revolutions on it, as I watch it sail perfectly onto the baseline. My opponent attempts to half-volley the shot, only to see it sail way out. I call, “out!” and then look back down the other side of the court to see the ECCA player at the net raising his finger to signify that my ball was out. I see it too late though, as they have already started jogging past the net to our side of the court. Before I can take in what just happened, I am forced to move to the other side of the court for the next game. Hamish remarks, “We can’t let them do that again,” to which I agree. But Hamish is too shy to pick up on their blatant cheating, so I am left with the job as spokesperson.

We go down 2-0 before Hamish has a great game of serving to put us on the board. Another long baseline rally kick-starts, as Hamish cuts across the court to hit a strong volley, only for the ECCA player at the net to chase it down and hit it clearly wide. I then see it again; the dreaded finger. I instantly turn to my opponent and snap that, “it is way too late to call that out, mate!” The ECCA player turns around, as he looks outraged. Just before he can come and stand over me and attempt to physically intimidate me, his partner calms him down and agrees with what I said. It happens a few more times, to which I pick up on every occasion.

We are still down 5-3, and need to do something quick to resurrect this set. It doesn’t help that I am playing a shocker. I’m way too tentative on my backhand, which is caused by not enough footwork and a slower swing of the racquet. I resolve to swinging harder and attempting to get more topspin on the ball, as I finally find a rhythm. We come back to make it a tiebreaker, only for us to go down 3-0. My first serve brings it back to 3-1, as I crack another first serve right on the service line. My opponent can’t return it back in, as the ball sails well out. I call, “out,” and turn around, only to see another finger. I state what I said previously just like a parrot, as the same scenario occurs. We never look back from there, winning 7-5 in the tiebreaker.

I then enjoy a lengthy break as I wait to play my singles. Hamish goes down 6-1, as I walk onto the brilliant Court 7 to start my singles. I’m playing the angry older guy that nearly lost it in the doubles, and who made all of the dodgy line calls. I don’t think about any of that though, as my main focus is giving my backhands a bit more of a hit.

I start off strongly, as I go up 3-1. A long deuce game interrupts the casual flow of games, as I finally wrestle my way to a break point on his serve. I set up the point well, pushing him back with a few deep forehands, before opening up the court for my backhand winner. I continue my torrid day by hitting it terribly, as I can’t see whether the ball ends up in or out, as the lines are difficult to see from the other side of the court. My opponent has a futile attempt of getting it back, only to send it spraying way out. I look at him straight away as he hits the shot, as he doesn’t make a move at all until he sees his shot land comfortably out. Then the trigger finger rises out again, as I snap back with my now customary line. Except this time he has no partner to cool him down. He walks up to me, attempting his best John McEnroe by exclaiming as loudly as he can that I, “cannot be serious!” I re-say my line, as I tell him that he can’t wait until his shot has gone out for him to call mine out, as that is a blatant and obvious way of cheating. After a full minute of him complaining and becoming outraged, he throws his racquet and trudges past me, admitting defeat. I then hold my nerve, winning 6-3 and somehow winning both of my first two sets when I have played shockingly.

When I exit the court after bagging, my opponent’s mother comes up to me and thanks me for stating the rule, as he, “needs to learn not to be a cheater.” I thank her for calming down my opponent after his dummy spit, as it was really quite worrying coming from a tall and muscular 17 year old. The jokes made by the parents around the BBQ fly, as they have a go at one another for burning the sausages whilst being on BBQ duty for the day. The mood is instantly lightened as Luke says, “Lucky my dad doesn’t come and cook the sausages or we would be here forever. He likes them ‘well done’.”

All of that is put behind us though, as Lewis wins 6-2 and Luke wins 6-3, giving us an unassailable 5-1 lead in sets. Lewis and I walk on to the court, as I look to finally play a consistent and strong set for the day. Everything finally clicks, as Lewis and I continue our undefeated record as a doubles pairing, smashing them 6-0, as my opponent tries to attempt the same antics twice, with Lewis putting him in his place for one of them. The way that Lewis states it in his Scottish accent is brilliant, as he explains the rule and walks off with a cheeky smile on his face. We end up winning 6-2 overall, as it is another great win which will move us higher than our previous position of fourth place. As we farewell each other, we realise that we have the next week off because of the Labour Day holiday, while I am rostered out the week after. By then I will be looking forward to annoying Stephen about the girl I saw him with at the school swimming carnival…

Eltham 6-2 ECCA
Luke/ Lewis 6-1 ECCA
Hamish/ Sean 6-5 ECCA
Luke 6-3 ECCA
Hamish 1-6 ECCA
Sean 6-3 ECCA
Lewis 6-2 ECCA
Luke/ Hamish 1-6 ECCA
Sean/ Lewis 6-0 ECCA


  1. Mark 'Swish' Schwerdt says

    Not sure I would have been a patient as you Sean, well done (and well told)

    Geez, if you get to that age and think that it is acceptable to cheat in that way, hoo boy. Doesn’t someone within his club need to pull him up?

    I dunno much about local tennis, do these sort of jokers carry on like this as seniors too, or do they get sorted out/shown the door?

    Would have been good to see his Mum tell him off loudly in front of everyone, saying that he has been banned from the Game Cube (reference to outmoded gaming device deliberate) for a month.

  2. Thanks! Well his mother was quite agitated with him, but it didn’t seem to stop him. Hopefully more players keep on pulling him up to stamp it out! I’m sure in seniors competitions that they will get stamped out pretty quickly!

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