JB Beastly Barrage of Backhands wins the Battle on Bates!!!!

Nine ab fab fashionistas, shockingly stylish in their modern interpretation of lawn tennis attire, armed with racket and rosé, rocked up at Bates on Friday night. But enough about the boys!

The 2016 Leavers and Divas were here and it was GAME ON!!

The colourful lycra on show and sweet smelling perfume bathed Bates in glamour and athleticism, brightened up an already promising sunset and added a welcome musk to the dusk. The fact that there was neither a bobble sock nor a Chris Evert skirt in sight may have been initially disappointing but the splash of lycratic effloresecence helped the carnival atmosphere combine dashing racket work with a sort of Pilates of the Caribbean. Group A, aka The Shocking Pink Group, held within it four very possible victrices ludorum: the insatiable Inglises, the golden Browns, the harmonic Hortons, the tip-top Tufnells and the cat-like Compton-Burnetts. Group B, the Royal Blue Group, included the handy Hodsons, the Bentley bandits, the bejewelled Jardine-Browns and the carniverously clinical Crawfords.

With the odd doting husband and obedient Labrador (I think I’ve got that the right way round) looking on in support and admiration, the glittering ensemble got under way. Of course, this was not a competitive occasion in any way – just a bit of Friday fun with friends and the boys. Believe that at your peril! Despite the smoked salmon and elderflower, this was warfare with iron wills behind the knickered frills. After Mrs Holmes’ elementary victory last year, this year’s victrix was trickier to predict. The Inglises were certainly youthful but would inexperience cast its shadow of shortcomings for the sibling stars? Would Mrs Compton-Burnett make it a double in a week for the Wootton St Lawrence racketeering family? All would be revealed on this fair but chilly Woolhampton eve. With match pizzas adding slice to the topspinningly terrific tea (thank you Lara as ever), the group stages were finished, the Pimms began to stream, and the finalists only had a Jardine to separate them. Yes, Brown versus Jardine-Brown may sound like a ground-breaking mid-west family law case but it was our 2016 final. And an enticing one it was too.

After some brilliant play, echoing the general standard throughout the evening, it was the Jardines that maxxed out and ground the Browns down in the final dashing denouement of the day.

Well done to Max and Francesca for troubling the engravers to a double-barrelled chore, well done to the boys for playing so maturely and skilfully, and thank you to the mums for brightening up Bates and playing with such good humour in a relaxed yet competitive spirit.

Pimms for the Mums! We ride at dawn.