A Tale of the ‘Baggy Yellow’ ‘Tennis with a Twist!’ By Louise Smithers Blue eyes, blue shirt, and a friendly blue twinkle… encapsulates John Lewis, with whom I sat down, to hear a special tale of tennis!

One night, over 20 years ago, he tells, a medley of dads at a ‘father and son’ camp decided to begin a tennis competition to keep the connection going. Now, they still meet on Monday nights at the Quarry Rd Dural tennis complex! The reason they meet is tennis… so they say… but along the way a special thing happened. By keeping it casual and redesigning the competition rules, the group has become a valued part of the social lives of the members. From ages 20-something to 70-something, they come to play, in nearly all weathers and definitely all competencies. Tennis skills are not a vital qualification!

A chance to air, share and possibly solve some of life’s problems along the way is the bonus! John took some baseball rules and changed them in particular ways so all players play, not sit to wait their turn, and missing a week is no drama. He talks rules and batting turns and ‘safe hits every second turn’ and I cannot comprehend the ins and outs, but he has it firmly under control. A competition over 14 weeks, most of the year, with two hours of tennis with a handicap system that takes an accountancy mind to calculate. How lucky they are! My memories of tennis are half hour of play and a few hours watching… (maybe ladies do it differently!)

John, a father of 11 children, now grown, tells me he has seen a transition over the years of modern men needing more flexibility with changing careers and family commitments, so to commit to a casual, regular sporting group in a relaxed setting is a valuable social support. Monday night commitments mean John generally has to eschew the tennis, but he enjoys golf and is still on the committee, organising and steering the play. At least 18 of the current 24 or so members usually play weekly.

They are really pedantic about the dress code; “Anything you want to play in!” A yellow sweater was once, many years ago, deemed to be worn by the best player, but the embarrassment of this meant the practice fell by the way-side! Humble about their skills, recognition is not required but members who win get a ‘baggy yellow’ cap with the club insignia to wear with pride! Wives and GFs are not forgotten! A yearly ‘Christmas in July- Maybe November’ is a little fun outside of the court… but still to be organised now in September… but it is ‘just around the corner! ’They once tossed around the idea of a ladies chapter but realise the special feel and camaraderie could change the invaluable supportive male dynamic of the group. Members life connections can change but the regular companionship of ‘MTN’ is always there.

The welcome mat is always out for new members who would like to join. Contact Bob Waller 0438 410 030 mrwtennis@bigpond.com You could not get a more welcoming and friendly voice on the phone and you may even get a bit fitter along the way! Meanwhile, Monday evening active competition over at the courts, it’s a casual chat over a beer and peanuts. Oh to be a fly-on-the-wall!