DAVID, RECENTLY RETURNED from his training camp in the USA, sported a dazzling tan and 14 stones of brimming muscle. Roy, at just 11 stones, had to keep his track suit bottoms on to avoid an unfair advantage on tan comparison going to David. 

As soon as the warm-up began it was obvious that there would be no let up in the intensity of the rivalry. David sent down howitzer drives, including his famous backhand drive cross court which has reduced many directors to tears. Roy responded with his usual ' brick wall' approach, although it was already clear that some of the mortar would need repair.

The match began. First point to Roy, and hope grew in his heart that the old skills would work away at David's confidence as the match progressed. However, something has happened as David's old frailties in match conditions seemed to have disappeared. Within a trice the first game went to David, with accurate bombardment from all quarters and Roy running from side to side in the vain hope of making connection with the ball as it sped past. One drive practically knocked Roy's racquet out of his hand.

The loss of the first game was swiftly followed by another, and another and on it went. First set, 6-1 to David! This would never have happened 20 years ago, but a lot has taken place since, with David on a constant arc of improvement and tennis virtually every day. Especially galling: it was Roy who introduced David to tennis when they both worked for the London Borough of Sutton in the 1970s - a time when male social workers had flared trousers and moustaches.

The second set looked like going the same way, despite several changes of tactic by Roy, including slowing the game down. Still, the steamroller approach of David was holding sway, and he reached 5-2 and match point. At that moment things began to change. Abandoning his usual cautious approach, Roy began charging the net and David became distracted. Match points disappeared, and 5-2 became 5-3, and 5-4. By then a crowd had the tennis club had gathered to watch. Well, not quite a crowd, but Derek, the groundsman, idly looked up from weeding for a few seconds. Roy served to level the match, and managed to get to 30-40, but then Pope Power re asserted itself and the match was over.

But, this is not the end! Another match is to be held, indoors, before Xmas. Roy is now in intensive training mode and barely a day goes by without him feeling guilty about not going to the gym again. David meanwhile is looking for ever younger opponents as no one his own age seems able to beat him.

Their grounding as long-serving directors of social services has stood them in good stead. Treat failure and success in the same way, except failure. Let the rivalry continue.......

Roy Taylor
ADSS President