The Indefatigable Open
by Loz

Commentator: "And welcome to the round-up of this year's
Indefatigable Open. It's been a marvellous tournament, with several
new players showing a great deal of talent, a couple of old stagers
showing they've still got what it takes, and a few old stars being
shot down."

MENS' SINGLES - Week One

ROUND ONE

The match of the first round involved the veteran Ronnie Clayton, and
top gun Jack Simpson. This was a surprising contest, as most pundits
had suspected that young newcomer Horatio Hornblower would be
Simpson's first opponent. However, Clayton came onto court smiling,
and made a valiant effort.

However, this was really a game where Simpson, seeded first here
despite being on the comeback trail, completely overpowered his rival.
Clayton served well, and his groundstrokes and general backcourt play
was solid, but as soon as he was forced anywhere near his rival his
game went to pieces. His net play was appalling, and, judging by his
rather haphazard footwork, the substance in his water bottle may not
have been non-alcoholic. Clayton made a big effort in the last game of
the match, really going for his serves, but he was hit for winners
four points in a row, and a jeering Simpson took the match in straight
sets. Clayton left the court in tears, surrounded by his fellow pros
Hornblower and Kennedy, and retired from professional tennis after the
match.

Score: J.Simpson (1) def R.Clayton 6-1 6-2 6-3

--------

The other much anticipated match in the opening round of this grand slam
pitted doubles partners Graham Chad (seeded here for the first time in a major
tournament) and Christopher Eccelston against each other. But it was something
of a fizzer.

Eccelston's game had too many unforced errors, and at times he seemed to
forget basic things like the name of the game. Chad broke him once each set,
and won comfortably in three. But on this performance it seems unlikely Chad
will be there at the finish, as a more accomplished player will surely flatten
him.

Score: G. Chad (16) def C Eccelston 6-4 6-3 6-4

ROUND TWO

*The* shock result of the second round was probably that involving promising
youngster Horatio Hornblower, and established professional and tenth seed,
Justin "Captain" Keene.

Horatio surprised tennis followers by winning a tough first round match
against Mario Gallante in five sets, after a patchy performance in the final
qualifying round against Frenchman Mal der Mer.

Keene, on the other hand, unaccountably struggled in his opener against
Cancer Man. He won in four tiebreak sets, but one suspects it won't be long
until the Man flattens Keene permanently.

Despite his poor first round form, Keene was expected to wipe the floor with
Hornblower. And indeed, the first set went according to plan. Keene won six
straight games to take the first set 6-0 from a clearly overwhelmed opponent.
But then the young Briton found himself, and, playing with almost mathematical
precision calculated himself into a winning position, winning his final ten
service games to love.

A major upset.

Score: H.Hornblower def J. Keene (10) 0-6 6-4 6-4 6-2

--------

In this round there was also a high-class encounter between former number one
and fifth seed Dreadnought Foster and his perennial foe Peter Hammond. Young
Hornblower, watching nervously, awaited the victor.

The match was a fiery one, and the duel between the two top players was
mesmerising. Hammond was the more cautious throughout, and it looked to have
played off when Foster lost the first set after breaking three rackets to stop
his opponent using them. Hammond challenged his opponent at the net, but with
his usual flair Foster fired passing shots straight past him. But when Foster
was at the net, Hammond couldn't seem to hit the target. He missed several
easy pick-ups, and smashed wide on match point. It rather summed up the
struggle.

D. Foster (5) def P. Hammond 6-7 7-6 6-4 7-5

ROUND THREE

In what was the match of the tournament so far, the underrated Horatio
Hornblower followed his dismissal of Keene with the more prized scalp of
Dreadnought Foster. Once again, Hornblower seemed somewhat petrified by the
occasion and his more fancied rival, and his obvious admiration for Foster
prevented him taking his chances in the first set. But after a wink from his
girlfriend Caroline, Foster seemed to lose concentration as surely as if he
had been dismasted approaching Dover on his lee. Hornblower pounced, and the
young star is now into his first Grand Slam fourth round, where he is due to
play the tough Seaman Bunting.

Score: H. Hornblower def D. Foster (5) 5-7 7-6 6-4 6-0

Commentator: 'Dreadnought Foster had said of his second round win against
Peter Hammond, "It saved my career." Hornblower's response after his stunning
victory today? "Not for long, it would seem."

Hornblower also attributed his victory to a much improved diet of fresh
meat.'

--------

Coming directly after Hornblower and Foster on Quarter-Deck Court, the match
between Master Bowles (8) and Major Edrington was rather overshadowed. This
was a pity, as it was an excellent match.

This one went right down to the wire. Edrington, the elegant player with the
noble record, is unseeded here, whereas Bowles is currently ranked in the
fleet's top ten for the fifth straight year.

The first set went to Bowles, as Edrington seemed to have trouble finding his
sea-legs. But he took the second with some remarkably well-aimed deliveries.
Bowles navigated himself out of trouble in the third, while Edrington came
back, playing a very neat game to force the decider.

No-one managed to get the upper-hand until very late in the fifth set, when
an over-tired Bowles served three double faults, cracked his sextant and was
broken to love. Edrington duly served out the match, but the heartfelt
handshake over the rigging afterwards, and the subsequent warm applause for
both players from the watching landsmen indicated what a sporting match had
just been played.

M. Edrington def. M. Bowles (8) 4-6 6-3 3-6 6-4 9-7

--------

Commentator: "That's all for now, but we await the next round with interest.
Stay tuned for further developments in this year's Indefatigable Open."


Round of Sixteen

Commentator: "Now we're getting towards the business end of the tournament!
There were some intriguing duels in this round. Top seed Simpson faced his
first major challenge; the foreign Armada continued on its way with the
pairing of Don Massaredo and Etienne de Vergesse; we saw if young Hornblower
could master himself against Bunting; and two British hopefuls faced tough
French opposition, as Major Edrington played the Marquis de Moncoutant and
Archie Kennedy battled General Charette. We also got a glimpse of some of the
tour workhorses in action. Matthews accounted for Tapling; Oldroyd versus
Hunter was an intriguing clash of youth and experience, and Styles and Finch
was a clash of the veterans. Let's examine the carnage."

-------

Major Edrington, fresh from a tactical battle with Bowles in the previous
round, took on the eccentric Marquis de Moncoutant, who scraped into the
seedings here.

Edrington has a very organised and precise game, but he at first seemed
overwhelmed by the sheer audacity of Moncoutant. The Frenchman cut him off at
the net with guillotine-like precision, and all Edrington's best-laid plans
fell apart. But gradually, the Englishman came back into it, taking tight hold
of the match in a lobster claw grip. Moncoutant became dispirited, and,
noticing the distinct lack of crowd support, failed to carry forward his
momentum. Edrington stood on the baseline and blasted winners from all angles,
coming home safely in four.

M. Edrington def. M. de Moncoutant (15) 3-6 7-5 6-4 6-1

-------

In the other cross-channel battle, the lovable Archie Kennedy took on General
Charette. Severe illness and injury, as well as the several years during which
he apparently vanished from the circuit have hampered Kennedy's career.
However, many pundits think he's almost back to his best (he's seeded here)
and he certainly did that opinion no harm with this display.

General Charette is a well-credentialled player. A finalist at the
Revolutionary Open two years ago, his career has been marred by a falling out
with the French tennis authorities. He prepared for this tournament by winning
the Quiberon Bay classic from Moncoutant, and as a result he came here ranked
seventh. But Kennedy simply brushed him aside. Archie did seem incredibly
nervous at first, and was at one stage five-love down in the opening set.
However, he came back, burning his bridges and triumphing. He won the next
seven games to take the set. His opponent barely got a look in, after that, as
his illustrious career came to a rather sticky end.

A. Kennedy (11) def. G. Charette (7) 7-5 6-2 6-1

-------

Able Styles versus Peter Finch was a classic slugfest. The two veterans have
been on the circuit for ages, although this is only the second year they've
both played the Indefatigable Open. The match went down to the wire, as
befitted a clash between two of the tournaments' higher seeds. Styles played
the first set angrily, lashing out at everything. The cooler Finch took
advantage, and served it out. However, Styles seemed calmer in the second,
perhaps buoyed by the presence of young Hornblower on the sidelines. In the
third, Styles inexplicably went chicken, chasing everything without notable
success. But as the match wore on, age and weariness seemed to take their toll
on Finch, who wilted under the sustained pressure. Extra water rations were
obtained to no avail, and Styles took the final set to love. But it was a
brave attempt to last the distance from the ailing Finch, and Styles
acknowledged as much in his post-match eulogy.

A. Styles (6) def. P. Finch (9) 4-6 6-3 2-6 6-2 6-0

-------

Top-ranked Jack Simpson's match against fourteenth seed Tony Bracegirdle was
frankly, a fizzer. Bracegirdle played an intelligent game, clearly having seen
through Simpson's blustery tricks. But lack of fitness brought him down, and
he ran out of steam. Simpson taunted his plumper rival constantly, and chair
umpire Edward Pellew was forced to intervene several times. The midshipmen
showed their opinion by giving the vanquished Bracegirdle three cheers, and
booing Simpson from the court. But Simpson merely snarled, and his next
opponent should watch out.

J. Simpson (1) def. T. Bracegirdle (14) 6-3 6-3 6-3

-------

Seaman Bunting approached his match against qualifier Horatio Hornblower with
a great deal of confidence. This seemed justified by the first set, won six
games to one by Bunting in a canter. He also won the second in a tiebreak. But
somehow Hornblower came back. The arrival of one-time mentor Bracegirdle
(fresh from his own defeat) inspired the young man, who turned over a new leaf
and started playing more intelligently. He ignored Bunting's constant
complaints and challenges to the line and rigging judges, and refused to get
angry when a desperate Bunting stole his last water bottle. In the end,
Bunting played far too rashly, and threw his last lifeline away. Hornblower
sails on.

H. Hornblower def. S. Bunting (12) 1-6 6-7 7-6 6-4 6-1

-------

Don Massaredo against Etienne de Vergesse was a clash of styles. The wily
Spaniard baseliner kept his cool in the face of the ruthlessly fit de
Vergesse, despite losing the first set. De Vergesse, who has been in the
headlines lately over his fights with former doubles partners Paul Chauvelin
and Katherine Cobham, taunted his opponent mercilessly, calling him names that
would no doubt be unrepeatable in a more civilised tongue. However, Massaredo
ignored the unsportsmanlike behaviour, and proved once again that brains will
nearly always triumph over brawn. Yet de Vergesse stole the show, as he ripped
off his top and, after tossing it into the crowd, the Frenchman paraded around
arrogantly without a shirt, completely overshadowing the departure of the
victorious Spaniard.

For Don Massaredo, the next challenge is a quarterfinal against surprise
packet Hornblower. For de Vergesse, a modelling career awaits.

D. Massaredo (4) def. E. de Vergesse 4-6 6-4 6-3 7-5

-------

Third seed Brian Matthews had an easier run into the quarterfinals. He
completely overwhelmed Ambassador Tapling, who seemed woefully unfit and
complained constantly about the size of the Quarter-Deck Court, about the late
scheduling of the match, about the quality of his towels and the brand of the
water. Matthews simply took command quietly and calmly, and Tapling found
himself in the showers before he'd even warmed up properly. The pride of the
Midlands is in excellent form.

B. Matthews (3) def. A. Tapling (14) 6-2 6-1 6-0

-------

The last match to be decided this round was between second seed Dennis Hunter
and happy-go-lucky Londoner Isaac Oldroyd. Oldroyd, acting on the advice of
his close friends Styles and Matthews, played the first two sets sensibly. But
then he inexplicably abandoned his own neat serve-and-volley game and became
caught up in long baseline rallies. This obviously favoured Hunter, who
gleefully took advantage and sent a disgusted Oldroyd packing in five. Styles
and Matthews could be seen shaking their heads from the galley. (Incidentally,
Matthews faces Hunter next. On current form, a minor upset looks exceedingly
likely.)

D. Hunter (2) def. I. Oldroyd (13) 4-6 4-6 6-4 6-4 6-3

-------

Commentator: "So the quarter finalists have been decided. There are a few
surprises, not least the presence of a revitalised Archie Kennedy. Consistent
players like Styles and Matthews have survived to fight another day, while Don
Massaredo and Major Edrington have proved class is still a valuable commodity.
Young Horatio Hornblower is the first qualifier to have reached the
quarterfinals since Edward Pellew was a midshipman. But Jack Simpson, despite
his uncertain temper, still looks like the man to beat. We'll have to wait and
see."

___________________________________________________________________

 

Quarter Finals

Commentator: "We started out with 128 young men, and only eight
remain. The survivors have made it through their wit, their skill,
their courage, and their determination. Their aims have been true,
their resources solid, and their blades sharp. But now it comes down
to who has enough strength left to run the gauntlet that is a long
major tournament."

-------

Styles against Simpson was the first match on Cabin Court One. It was not a
pretty affair for those on watch as the two players slugged it out. Top-ranked
Simpson seemed determined to batter his opponent into submission. He hit the
ball harder and ran for longer. Styles had the better tactics, but was
completely confused by Simpson's evil plans. He failed to notice Simpson's
tampering with his racket, and completely ignored his rival's repeated
attempts to influence the umpire. This was a mistake, as Styles' game was
destroyed by broken strings and obviously incorrect line calls. It wound up a
whitewash, but a furious Styles refused to shake Simpson's hand afterwards,
and completely spurned the dubious umpire, H.M.S Justinian. Those in the
sailor's mess agreed, and hissed as Simpson shook his fist at them in a
victory gesture.

J. Simpson (1) def. A. Styles (6) 6-1 6-0 6-1

PRESS REPORT: "Jack Simpson refused to comment after this match. Able Styles
talked only briefly, saying 'he would rather empty a dung cart than meet
Simpson again in this life'."

NEWS FLASH: "Able Styles has appealed against his loss, claiming that bad
management had let Simpson run riot. The Admiralty announced that as the
higher-ranked player, Jack Simpson had to be given the benefit of the doubt,
and that if Styles further impugned any umpire, he would face a life ban from
the Professional Sailors' Tennis Tour."

NEWS FLASH 2: "In a stunning announcement, tournament director Nelson
withdrew H.M.S Justinian's umpiring commission. Former number one player
Edward Pellew has been appointed chief umpire. Unfortunately, the decision
came too late to save Styles in this tournament."

-------

The match between Horatio Hornblower and Don Massaredo on Quarter-Deck Court
had the El Ferrol stand packed to capacity. The Spaniard was perhaps the first
player not to underestimate Mr Hornblower, and the contest panned out in a
very respectful manner.

Mr Hornblower seemed a little dazed at first, perhaps at the shock of
reaching his first grand slam quarterfinal. As a result, the Don took the
first set six games to four, breaking Hornblower's serve to love. But a loud
cheer from the watching Archie Kennedy (to play later this evening) seemed to
snap young Horatio out of his lethargy. He took the next two sets comfortably.

Then something odd occurred. Perhaps out of respect for his esteemed
opponent, Horatio returned his serve less forcefully, stopped trying to chase
down drop shots, and generally let Massaredo back into the match. However, a
quiet word from the Spaniard on the change of ends must have had some effect,
as Hornblower picked up his game again and escaped with his unbeaten record at
the Indefatigable Open intact. But I daresay he's used his "get out of gaol
free" card for this tournament.

H. Hornblower def. D. Massaredo (4) 4-6 6-3 6-3 5-7 6-2

PRESS REPORT: "Later, Don Massaredo was asked about the conversation he had
with Hornblower during the match. The Spaniard stated that he had indeed
encouraged the youngster to play to his full capacity, rather than to waste
his opportunity. He then grinned, and asked, "I wonder if the authorities
realise that, by this action, I have let loose a player who is liable to be a
thorn in the side of his tennis adversaries for many years to come?"

When this question was repeated to Hornblower in his own press conference,
the young Englishman merely smiled and answered, "I shall endeavour not to
disappoint them." At which point the shy man returned to his cabin, to rest
before watching his friend Kennedy in the evening match."

-------

Dennis Hunter and Brian Matthews on Cabin Court One was a tennis match for
the purists. Hunter seemed convinced of his own superiority, and tried to
overwhelm Matthews with a barrage of shots. However, his tactics were patently
flawed, and his ambush failed miserably. Matthews bided his time, planned well
and struck carefully, playing risk-free tennis that left Hunter dodging his
bullets. Hunter did appear to have a bullet wound to his thigh, but to mention
this takes away from the magnificent performance by Matthews against his
higher ranked opponent. He used his opponent's strengths - his firepower, his
haste - against him, engaging him in long rallies and confusing him utterly.
Matthews won in straight sets, and this cool, calm player with the excellent
record in the Indefatigable Open will be a very tough opponent for young
Hornblower in the semi-finals.

B. Matthews (3) def. D. Hunter (2) 6-4 6-3 6-4

PRESS REPORT: "Matthews was characteristically modest after his convincing
victory. He blushed when asked if he always played such intelligent tennis,
and refused to mock the inexperienced opponent he faces in the next round. If
only more players were like this."

-------

The final match in this round was that between tennis aristocrats Archie
Kennedy (seeded eleventh) and Major Edrington (unseeded due to his surprising
failure at the Quiberon Bay Classic). Despite his higher ranking, everyone
expected Kennedy would fold under the pressure. But he didn't.

It was an even money bet at first. Kennedy and Edrington traded games on the
court, and witty banter on the change of ends. Kennedy took the first set in a
tiebreak, as his opponent stumbled on the salt-encrusted Quarter-Deck Court.
The second set went the other way, as Edrington played some extremely polished
tennis. Kennedy ran all day and got nowhere. He became nervous on his serve,
and started dodging Edrington's shots instead of returning them. At the end of
the set Archie was forced to ask for a short break, to change his drenched
attire.

The change in clothes signalled a change in the match. Kennedy, resplendent
in a new hat and hunting-style tennis boots, simply took charge. He regained
his confidence and his accuracy, firing past Edrington at the net, and
blasting him away from the baseline. The next two sets were over quickly, as
Edrington was unable to compete with his revitalised opponent. The handshake
at the end of the match was friendly, then Edrington graciously left the court
and allowed Kennedy to savour the moment. He threw his hat towards his
watching friend Horatio Hornblower, and rejoiced in the knowledge that the
worst was behind him.

A. Kennedy (11) def. M. Edrington 7-6 2-6 6-2 6-3

PRESS REPORT: "It was apparent that the match was played in good spirits.
Just how good was not apparent until afterwards, when this reporter spotted
Hornblower, Kennedy and the vanquished Edrington sharing a glass of port with
Edward Pellew. Kennedy had best not rest on his laurels, however, as his next
match is against Jack Simpson."

-------

Commentator: "It's down to four. Simpson, Kennedy, Matthews and Hornblower.
It will be interesting to see what happens. Simpson has alienated everyone,
but he is playing well, and Kennedy will have to find some immense inner
strength to defeat his old adversary. Hornblower has shocked everybody with
the quality of his tennis, but he is yet to have a match shorter than three
hours, and may be too tired against the steady Matthews. Either way, the
semifinals should be riveting viewing, as the players aim to sail into the
final."

__________________________________________________________________

SEMIFINALS

Commentator: "Simpson against Kennedy, Matthews against Hornblower.
It's a treat for tennis lovers. Jack Simpson the reviled top seed
versus the revitalised child prodigy Archie Kennedy. Brian Matthews
the steady old hand versus the rising star Hornblower. Hold on to your
hats, folks, we're in for a bumpy voyage."

-------

PRESS REPORT 1:

Jack Simpson on tennis: "It's not a bloody sport, it's life or death. I live,
the opponent dies."

Jack Simpson on being world number one: "I'm the best. I deserve it. And
everyone else'd better treat me with respect. Or else."

Jack Simpson on winning another title: "Is there one I haven't got? Give it
to me. Now! Or else I'll just take it."

Jack Simpson on his opponent: "That deformed brat? I've missed him. Jack's
back, and he's coming to get you, boy..."

PRESS REPORT 2:

Archie Kennedy on tennis: "It's one career, no better or worse than another.
Perhaps I'm not as naturally gifted as others are, but I'm still here, and
I'll always do my best. I may not have chosen to be a tennis player, but there
are worse things in life."

Archie Kennedy on his comeback: "I had a lot of injury problems. I played on
the satellite tournaments in France and Spain for a while, but I couldn't seem
to escape. Horatio Hornblower's helped a lot. He showed me that the tennis
circuit needs me; that I could contribute a lot. And I make him laugh, so it's
a fair trade."

Archie Kennedy on winning titles: "I haven't had a great deal of success in
the past, but I feel I'm playing a lot better now. I've put my failure in the
Papillon Challenge and the Oubliette Open behind me. I did very well in the
Devil's Teeth Cup, and I made the semifinals of the Quiberon Bay Classic. I've
passed my examination now, and I'm ready to proceed."

Archie Kennedy on his opponent: "W-e-e-e-ll, I've known him for a long time.
We haven't always been on the best of terms, but I'd like to believe it'll be
better now. I've had a lot of help in my comeback, and I hope I can overcome
Jack this time. It's always hard to play him. He's big on abuse, and he likes
to thump the ball around. Fitness may be a problem, but I think I can overcome
him now."

-------

The match on Quarter-Deck Court drew a very big crowd, as sailors from all
round the fleet gathered to watch this contest. As the players were piped onto
the court, the contrast in their receptions could not have been more marked.
Archie Kennedy was met with whoops and cheers, smiles and waves. Jack Simpson,
despite his ranking and his record, was greeted with curses, sneers and crude
gestures.

Kennedy, buoyed by the support, began magnificently. He showed no fear,
facing up to Simpson as if he had been born to it. His shots hit their mark,
and his opponent couldn't get a blow in edgewise. Kennedy seemed unmoved by
Simpson's vitriolic attitude, and avoided his revenge with ease. It was a
wonderful display for the first two sets.

This continued into the third. Indeed, Kennedy had two points for a
double-break, and served for the match at five games to three. He held several
match points.

But something went wrong. He began to crumble. Shots that had been precise
were sprayed wide, and his artillery, previously so effective, died on him.
Simpson scented his chance, broke back, and won the set in a tiebreak.

It all went downhill from there. Simpson's spleen began finding its target,
and Kennedy lost his composure. He started playing very defensively, and his
confidence vanished. In the crowd, marines could be seen shaking their heads.

Simpson won the fourth set easily, and the fifth set began. At first, Kennedy
seemed to find some spirit. He won his serve again, and clambered around the
Deck Court easily. But it wasn't to last.

At the change of ends at two games all, Simpson whispered something foul to
Kennedy, and laid his hand on his shoulder. Kennedy began to shake. Although
the match proceeded, something was terribly wrong. Mr Kennedy started jerking
around, and his shot-making became completely incoherent. Eventually, he
collapsed.

The tournament physician, Dr Hepplewhite, attempted to revive him, without
noticeable success. Kennedy was forced to forfeit, and Simpson spat in
triumph. The crowd cowered as he pranced around the court, pelting balls at
them. The number one may have won by default, but there was no doubt about
which was the fans' favourite. As a shaken Kennedy was escorted from the court
by chief umpire Edward Pellew and his friend Hornblower, the men in the
riggings stood and saluted as one.

J. Simpson (1) def. A. Kennedy [retired hurt](11) 4-6 3-6 7-6 6-1 2-2

-------

Commentator: "Jack Simpson may have won the match, but Archie Kennedy won all
tennis lovers' hearts. He played superbly, but was eventually undone by
Simpson's brutality and his own demons. Simpson may have questioned Kennedy's
'fitness' to play, but this reporter questions Simpson's fitness to win."

-------

PRESS REPORT 1:

Brian Matthews on tennis: "It's an excellent career. It's something I've
committed myself to, and I enjoy it. I've made some wonderful friends on the
Professional Sailors' Tennis Tour, and I pride myself on my consistency."

Brian Matthews on his career: "I started from the bottom, but that hasn't
proved a barrier to success. I've found that if you play with your heart, and
trust your fellow professionals, the storms will be few and the seas clear."

Brian Matthews on winning: "I remember the first time I won the Below-Decks
Championship. It was an amazing feeling, achieving something that big. But it
was after the disaster in the plague-ridden Oran Open that I realised there
were more important things in life. It's good to win matches, but it's better
to know that your fellow sailors will always be there to pick up the balls
when you miss."

Brian Matthews on his opponent: "It's hard to say. He's navigated himself
through this tournament remarkably well, considering his age and inexperience.
I'll certainly be wary, although he still needs to prove himself at the
highest level."

PRESS REPORT 2:

Horatio Hornblower on tennis: "It's a noble profession. I always try to play
to the best of my ability, but I never succeed as well as I would like.
There's always something I could have done better, and it is far too easy to
make mistakes out there.

Horatio Hornblower on life on the tour: "I've barely started, so I don't know
what to say. I think I've fitted in reasonably well, but it's hard to adjust
to life at sea. I do miss my family sometimes...I'm not sure if my father
entirely approves of my career. He wanted me to follow in his footsteps as a
footballer, but I'm useless without a racket in my hand. It's a lonely life,
but I've made a few good friends...Mr Kennedy and I get along well, and I've a
lot of respect for some of the older players who've helped me out.

Horatio Hornblower on success: "I haven't experienced too much, really. I
didn't do too badly at the Papillon Open, but I only made it that far because
Eccleston and Chad defaulted. I only made it past the first round of the
Gibraltar Cup because I managed to find a bit of fire against that floating
Spaniard. It's certainly not due to any great skill of mine. I'm fairly
insignificant on the Sailors' Tour at the moment, and I don't really deserve
the attention I'm getting."

Horatio Hornblower on his opponent: "He's an excellent player. You only need
to look at his record to see how much he's achieved. I'm not in the same boat.
I'd like to think I won't disgrace the Tour and the Admiralty, though.

-------

Horatio Hornblower has not played a short match so far. Brian Matthews has
not played a long one. Someone had to give. Most Admirals and Captains on the
board thought it would be the youngster.

Hornblower had not yet started a match well at the Indefatigable Open. This
tentative play carried over into the first set today, which the number three
seed Matthews won to love. During the break between the sets, young Hornblower
could be seen frantically scribbling calculations, checking 'The Compleat Book
of Sea-Faring Tennis', and measuring the tension in his racket-strings. His
nerves couldn't have been helped by the fact that he spilt ink on himself and
inadvertently sat on his hat during the changeover. It was hardly surprising
that he seemed rather frazzled upon his return to Quarter-Deck Court.

His appearance may have been less than ideal for the second set, but the
extra study had paid off. Hornblower's play was sparkling. He appeared to have
grown up, and his lanky frame could be seen twisting itself into almost
impossible contortions in order to respond to some of Matthews' demands.
Hornblower took aim, steadied, and fired at will, leaving his opponent
dumbfounded.

There was no way back for Matthews. Hornblower played above himself, making
quick decisions and pulling off manoeuvres his opponent could only applaud and
follow. His volleying was crisp, his groundstrokes well-struck. His match plan
was excellent, its execution superb. Hornblower served out the match in four
to reach his first major final. He sank to his knees in disbelief afterwards,
shaking his head in a daze as the vanquished Matthews offered heartfelt
congratulations.

H. Hornblower def. B. Matthews (3) 0-6 6-4 6-2 6-2

-------

Commentator: "Hornblower stumbled off Quarter-Deck Court protesting his
unworthiness to play in the final. He may think himself unworthy, but this
reporter believes he is a future star of the sea. He will meet Jack Simpson in
the final duel in two days time, and he definitely has an even chance."

________________________________________________________

THE FINAL

Commentator: "It's the biggest match of the Indefatigable Open - the
men's singles final, between top seed Jack Simpson and young qualifier
Horatio Hornblower.

That Jack Simpson is due to play in the final is not a surprise.
Although Archie Kennedy pushed him in the semis, Simpson has been
playing power tennis, and has rammed his way through to this point
with all the subtlety of a cannonball. He has been the top-ranked
player on the Professional Sailor's Tour for a number of years now,
and his presence at this stage of a major tournament is almost
expected. Lately, however, the spotlight has been more on his
temperament than his tennis. His bullying and abusive tactics may have
helped him reach his fifth Indefatigable Open final, but they have
lost him a great deal of public support. And to their shame, the
Admiralty has so far remained silent. It is unfortunate, for having a
character like Jack Simpson as the top representative of our noble
sport casts aspersions on the entire tennis establishment.

Simpson's opponent in this final, however, is in every way a
surprise. Horatio Hornblower has done it the hard way. He had to play
three matches just to qualify, and has won six matches in the
tournament proper. He's spent 28 hours in the riggings to become the
first qualifier to get this far since Francis Drake over a hundred
years ago. The talented youngster has proved himself a fast learner
and a keen student of the art of sea-going tennis. He plays with
mathematical precision, and can navigate himself around the court with
extraordinary speed. His rise through the professional ranks has been
rapid, although the player himself remains plagued by fears of
inadequacy. Some still mock him. But for this reporter, Hornblower is
the future of tennis, and it can only be hoped that this is recognised
by the people who matter, in high places and in low.

The umpire for this match is Edward Pellew. The former top player
(who still competes in doubles on the tour with considerable success)
is a rigid taskmaster, and an awesome figure to behold on the side of
a tennis court. But he is also a firm believer in honour and fair
play, and his presence on Quarter-Deck Court should ensure a fair
fight. Although with Jack Simpson playing, one never can tell."

-------

PRESS CONFERENCE ONE: Jack Simpson

Eager Beaver from the Naval Chronicle: "How does it feel to have made the
final again?"

Simpson: "Feel? I don't give a toss about how it feels! Who bothers with
feelings?"

Old Hack from This Sailing Life: "What do you think of your opponent, Horatio
Hornblower? Is he likely to pose much of a challenge?"

Simpson: "That snotty-nosed brat? I'll wipe the floor with that mummy's boy!
He'll wish he'd never picked up a tennis racket in his life! I'll..."

Romantic Writer from Lifestyles of Rich and Famous Sea-Tennis Players: "Do
you enjoy your sport?"

Simpson: "Stuff the sport. It's the power from being the best that matters."

Sensible Scribe from The Daily Deck: "Do you mind that the crowd seems to be
rather firmly behind Mr Hornblower?"

Simpson: "Fans are stupid. Besides, I could kill 'em all with one decent blow
from my racket, so it doesn't matter."

Observant Observer from The Ocean Observer: "What are your tactics for the
match?"

Simpson: "Tactics? Taunt him, bash him round a bit, get him stuck in the
riggings, ignore all that book-learning of his, and get on the right side of
the umpire. Simple."

Tough Typist from The Admiralty Advocate: "How do you respond to allegations
that your menacing style of play has demeaned the sport of tennis and
blackened the name of the Professional Sailors Tour? Do you feel guilty that
the only way you can win is through blackguardly tactics and cheating?"

Simpson: "You *&%$# @%(%&$) #%*@( *$& @$%#%/..."

Press conference is terminated as tournament medic Dr Hepplewhite helps a
mauled Tough Typist.

--

PRESS CONFERENCE TWO: Horatio Hornblower

Eager Beaver from the Naval Chronicle: "How does it feel to have made the
final of a major tournament for the first time?"

Hornblower: "I am sensible of the honour that has been bestowed upon me, but
I feel I cannot possibly deserve it. I am only a raw youth, and there are many
who play better than I do."

Old Hack from This Sailing Life: "What do you think of your opponent, Jack
Simpson? Have you got a chance?"

Hornblower: "Mr Simpson has an excellent record as a player, and I fear I may
not be able to overcome him. But I will strive to do my best and play a good
game."

Romantic Writer from Lifestyles of Rich and Famous Sea-Tennis Players: "Do
you enjoy your sport?"

Hornblower: "I do. It is an excellent life, although often lonely and
difficult. Still, England needs every man to do his duty."

Sensible Scribe from The Daily Deck: "How do you feel about the overwhelming
crowd support?"

Hornblower: "I have done little to deserve such esteem. But I confess, it
makes me feel better to know that I have allies. I am pleased that my friends
Mr Kennedy and Mr Edrington will be able to attend the match, and I am
honoured that many of my former adversaries seem to be behind me. However, in
the end, as a tennis player I must play and win alone."

Observant Observer from The Ocean Observer: "How do you intend to counteract
Simpson's power hitting and rough tactics? Might you adopt something similar?
Or will you just sit and try to blockade him?"

Hornblower: I play to win. But I would never do so in a manner that would
violate the honour of my profession and the edicts of duelling and of war. I
have examined all the alternatives, and I believe my best hope of success is
to use my own ideas. I see no point in having firepower in my game only to
leave it at shore. I aim to come out to fight."

Tough Typist from The Admiralty Advocate (holding cloth to bloody nose): "Do
you think you will survive this encounter?"

Hornblower: I do not intend to surrender yet. The odds are against me, but I
might yet sail away unscathed."

Wry Wit from Sailors Ahoy!: "Do you have a sense of humour?"

Hornblower: "I beg your pardon?"

Wry Wit (resignedly): "Never mind."

 

-------

Commentator: "What a match! I've never seen its like in all my years as a
tennis correspondent! This match had everything - exciting tennis,
controversy, violence...it was a titanic struggle, and I was privileged to
witness it. It will go down in history, in legend..."

 

MATCH REPORT

From the moment the players were piped onto Quarter-Deck Court, it was clear
something special was about to take place. Jack Simpson looked smug, Horatio
Hornblower nervous but determined. Edward Pellew, as umpire, looked extremely
stern, and young Hornblower seemed almost frightened of him.

Hornblower won the toss, although Simpson accused him loudly of cheating.
Pellew asked Simpson if he was able to prove the charge, and, when no answer
was forthcoming, sent the players away to their respective ends.

A breathless crowd watched as Hornblower served and the first set unfolded.
The youngster was playing with great intelligence, but Simpson's power was
keeping him pinned down. His stance was almost pugilistic, as he pummelled his
young opponent mercilessly. Simpson took the first set six games to two.

Somehow, between the sets, Hornblower managed to acquire a black eye, and
refused to say what had happened. (Editor: Jack Simpson may or may not have
been behind this incident. We can only speculate.) When this was pointed out
to the umpire, Pellew had no choice but to punish Hornblower for fighting. He
was confined to the back of Quarter-deck court between games for the set,
unable to take any ease at all.

A dispirited Hornblower seemed to droop after that, losing the second set to
love. Dr Hepplewhite was dispatched to help the exhausted player, but his
efforts were fairly insignificant. In truth, the match seemed dead and buried.

And then came the turning point. Somehow Hornblower found some inner
strength, squared his shoulders, and kept going. His clever play finally
forced Simpson to retreat, and he steered the match his way. After saving
several match points, he took the third in a tiebreak.

Simpson was not happy, and showed it. He abused the linesman, threw his
racket (narrowly missing both Umpire Pellew and Hornblower) and belted shots
every-which-way. Pellew warned him according to the Articles of War, and the
match proceeded more smoothly. Hornblower's controlled aggression was again
more effective than Simpson's unbridled fury, and despite being broken early,
came back to win the fourth set six-four to force a decider.

No-one could gain the upper hand in the final set. It was six games all when
matters reached boiling point. Hornblower's racket inexplicably snapped on a
crucial point, and he told Pellew that Simpson was responsible. However, there
was no proof. An angry Simpson denied the allegation. (Editor: This journal is
not actually accusing Simpson of lying, but...) However, Hornblower refused to
withdraw it. So Jack Simpson demanded satisfaction for the affront. Horatio
Hornblower, unable to prove matters except with his own body, agreed. The
crowd was stunned.

Edward Pellew in the chair was clearly unhappy, but he could do little at
this point. The stage was set for a final confrontation. Sudden death. A three
point, winner-take-all tiebreak. Quarter-Deck Court was cleared for action,
and Pellew gave the signal to commence.

What happened?

According to custom and convention, the serving player is supposed to make
sure the other player is ready to receive. Jack Simpson did not do this. He
belted the ball in Hornblower's direction while the other man was still
adjusting his grip. Hornblower received a gruesome blow to the arm and dropped
his racket, stunned. In any event, the ball was out, so Hornblower received
the point.

Pellew was incensed by this blatant breach of protocol, and announced that in
return, Hornblower was allowed a free point of his own. This would have won
him the match. Young Horatio took up his racket, and tossed the ball in
preparation for his serve. But then, Horatio deliberately hit the ball into
the net, stating calmly that Simpson "wasn't worth the power". It was one
point apiece in the tiebreak.

The crowd applauded this extraordinary gesture of sportsmanship. Simpson
seemed less amused. (Editor: Really?) Becoming hysterical, he charged
menacingly towards Hornblower, who was standing with his back to the net.
Clearly, the young man was in mortal danger.

But Edward Pellew was in full control of the situation. With extraordinary
accuracy and poise, he threw a tennis ball at the approaching Simpson. The
ball ricocheted off Simpson's racket and went out of play. A shocked Horatio
Hornblower realised what that meant.

Simpson had hit the final ball of the match. He had hit it out. Hornblower
had won. The young man gazed at Edward Pellew in amazement, for it was
Pellew's decision and subsequent action that had decided the match in his
favour.

Meanwhile, the jubilant crowd rose with a single purpose - to applaud
Hornblower's victory. His friend Kennedy had tossed his hat into the air with
delight; Matthews and Styles were dancing a jig; Oldroyd looked bemused but
happy. Bracegirdle was smiling.

Simpson...(Editor: Who cares?)

It was a famous victory.

H. Hornblower def. J. Simpson (1) 2-6 0-6 7-6 6-4 7-6 (2-1 in sudden-death
tiebreak after a challenge.)

-------

Commentator: "And now we're live at the presentation ceremony. Edward Pellew
is presenting the Indefatigable Open trophy to a rather bewildered and
definitely battered Horatio Hornblower. We'll cross to him now."

Pellew: "I judge a man by what I see him do...and today, I saw Mr Hornblower
play with honour and courage. I made my decision. Congratulations on this
victory."

Commentator: "Hornblower is blushing. He's trying to speak, but Pellew hasn't
finished."

Pellew: "It was an extraordinary triumph. For this remarkable achievement,
the Admiralty has decreed that you should gain automatic promotion. Your
ranking has therefore been raised to Number One."

Commentator: "There's no question that Hornblower deserves the promotion.
But it's amazing that the Admiralty managed to approve it! Those Admiralty
chaps can't normally agree on the colour of a tennis ball!"

Crowd: "He's won the bloody Indy! He's won the bloody Indy!"

Commentator: "Listen to the crowd cheer! Hornblower seems overwhelmed! His
mouth is opening, but no words are coming out. He can't believe it!"

Pellew: "I foresee a great future for you on the Professional Sailors' Tennis
Tour. May you carry on as you have begun."

Horatio Hornblower, world number one, did the only thing he could. He
saluted. "Aye aye, Sir."

The End