Once upon a time, there was a club. This was no ordinary club. The most prestigious and exclusive club in Oxford. OULTC. But not the blues squad. Anyone can get in the blues squad; the seconds and thirds harbour the real talent. Then one day they decided Oxford just wasn’t big enough for them. After months of searching, their next conquest was found – Vale Do Lobo, The Algarve, Portugal. After weeks of meticulous planning by Sir Andrew Patrick Grassick (knighthood pending) they set off to Portugal with nothing but their tennis rackets and a bag of bananas.
Day 1. Jetlag from the zero-hour time difference had begun to kick in. But our biggest task of the week was upon us – stocking up on food and alcohol for the week. Following our arrival at our regrettably pool-less villas, we somehow mustered the energy for our first training session of the week. After cooking meals in our apartments and having a quick drink, an early night was needed.
Day 2. Now fully accustomed to the time zone and climate, the level of training intensified. A two-hour coaching session was quickly followed by a chance for the players to demonstrate their physical, mental and technical prowess (and to impress members of the opposite sex) - dingles. Despite the valiant efforts of Casper Wiik Scheible to redeem himself from last year’s unconvincing last place finish, it was Maximillian Klinger (M3 Captain) and Alendra Reyner (W2 captain) who emerged victorious. This was followed by a delightful dinner at Portugal’s premier beach-side restaurant – Maria’s.
Day 3. After another morning of coaching, we were all ready to hit the beach and soak up the sun, knowing full well what lay in store for us later that evening. Due to the EasyJet baggage restrictions, the official OULTC bin still resided in St John’s College Oxford. But the collective genius of OULTC enabled us to procure an alternative vessel for our alcoholic concoction.
Day 4. Normal service was resumed as we kicked the day off with another intense coaching sesh. Returning to our competitive instincts, this day witnessed the historic mixed doubles tournament. A fortuitous draw saw the M2 and W2 first seeds, Roberto Kresch and (once again…) Alexandria Reyner, swoop to victory despite a surprise loss to Mathew Maynard and Heide de Sousa, and the noble efforts of Chris Grassick and Ella Glover in the final.
Day 5. With energy reserves still not depleted we hit the courts one last time for a coaching session followed by an emotional goodbye to coaches Ricardo, Mauricio and Ignacio. A quiet afternoon by the pool followed by a chaotic pack and tidy brought us to the end of the week. Our return to Britain had arrived and we bade farewell to Portugal, not knowing if this was to be the last time that we would ever see the inside of the European Union…
By Andrew and Chris Grassick