Match Report

 Had a strange dream the night before our game with Bandits B. I was wandering round a market in old Shanghai, when from out of a doorway I was confronted by a wizened old Chinaman, who I later learned was Wun Hung Low. Apparently he had a very bad hernia. 'You play table tennis,' he said. 'Badly!' Cheeky bugger, I thought. 'Well I have just the thing you need to make you a champion. Come and I will show you.' He led me through dark passageways and eventually into a room that was completely empty except for a safe and a table tennis table. He took a set of keys from his pocket, opened the safe and took out two bats. One without a cover and one inside a gold case. He offered me the one without the case whilst he then unzipped the case and took out the other bat. It didn't look any different from the one he'd offered me and I wondered what was so special about it. 'We play,' he said, producing a ball, seemingly from nowhere. I took my position at one end of the table as he went to the other end. I noted straight away that he played Chinese style, with a pencil grip. Well he would with a name like Wun Hung Low wouldn't he! He served to my forehand and I went to chop a return but the ball seemed to reverse before it reached me and I overhit my return by a mile. Five minutes later I hadn't returned a single ball as the ball played all kind of tricks I had never seen before. He then demonstrated the bat's attacking capabilities as he served a few balls that I could return but he then proceeded to drive them back past me at an astonishing speed. 'Game over, he said. 'You definitely need this bat. You want to buy?' 'I certainly do, how much.' I replied, reaching for my wallet. 'Five hundred US dollars, cheap at half the price,' he said. 'What! I don't have that kind of money to spend on a table tennis bat,' I replied, somewhat gobsmacked. 'Well you never be a champion will you. Get out and stop wasting my time.' I left thinking of all the opponents I could beat if I had that bat but no it was just too much. A few days later I found myself at the market again and who should I see emerging from the doorway clutching a gold table tennis case and shaking hands with Wun Hung Low, Mark Lambe from Bandits B and on Tuesday night the dream seemed to have been true as none of us could cope with the BAT. Brian got us underway with a fairly comfortable win against Dave, who didn't help his cause by serving so many double faults I lost count. I played Adam and gave him a decent game but lost in three as he produce some devastating forehand smashes just at the right time. Ian went on against Mark and struggled against the magic qualities of the bat. When Mark plays the shot it seems to be coming at a fair rate of knots but it doesn't arrive and you play far too soon and you have to try and direct your return to his backhand as Mark has a deadly forehand smash which for us mere mortals is practically unreturnable. So, as well as Ian battled, especially in the 3rd set, he went down in three. I then played Dave and with the help of so many edges and double faults from Dave, I managed to scrape a four set win. Brian then had the game of the night with Mark as he fought back from being two sets down and 6-10 in the third, to level it at two sets all, as Mark got over confident and went for some big smashes, which either missed by a mile or Brian blocked. Mark calmed down in the fifth, resorting to his previous tactics and Brian just couldn't land a smash and Mark took the set and the game. Ian and Adam had a decent game but Adam missed far too many smashes, Ian's blocking was on song and Adam went down in three. I got up to play Mark and then I sat down again, nuff said! Ian lost the first set against Dave, more through carelessness than anything Dave did but he gave himself a good talking to, settled down and took the next three. Last singles was Brian and Adam and to be honest, in the first two sets Adam looked as if he'd given up. He tried to smash everything and only in the third did he realise he hadn't been doing justice to himself and upped his game. Brian had to use all his experience to win that fourth set, which he eventually did 12-10. We needed the doubles to get the season off with a win and despite dropping the second set Ian and Brian overcame Adam and Dave in four. A splendid night's tennis, good company and we look forward to the return. Just hope Mark loses that bat!                                                                                               Lee.


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