The humid January air was thick with tension. The score was locked at five games apiece in the South Star Tennis Club’s B-grade mixed doubles. Sarah Childs bent her coltish frame and bounced a tennis ball, preparing to serve. A hush fell over those watching.
A hush shattered almost immediately by a guttural, shuddering moan from the bauhinia tree behind Court 3, where a scene of acrobatic and highly vocal courtship had been taking place between two possums since sundown.
‘Jeez, they’re really going at it,’ drawled club secretary Doris from her vantage point in the umpire’s chair.
Sarah looked up in exasperation, concentration broken.
‘Well, they are! Haven’t heard such gutsy lovemaking since those free-love backpackers cleared out of the caravan park. Sorry, Father.’
‘No worries, Doris. Try again, Sarah,’ jollied her mixed doubles partner, the portly local priest.
Sarah forced a smile for Father Simon. Verbal encouragement was all he contributed to their partnership, but Sarah knew, even with the priest’s lousy backhand, flimsy serve and dicky knee, they could win this thing. And she could use a win. Particularly against that smug moll Laura Murphy and her wet noodle of a boyfriend..