(racket sports, travel, psychology, anything quirky). Former real tennis champ and tennis tournament player. Franco/Italophile gone mad… London based.

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  • Real Tennis at Queen's Club

    Real Tennis at Queen's Club

  • Koh Lanta, Thailand

    Koh Lanta, Thailand



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Borg vs McEnroe – the film


You Cannot Be Serious


Has there ever been a good film about tennis?

John McEnroe thinks not.




The trouble with films about tennis is that most actors just can’t play the game.

“Players” and “Wimbledon” were both murdered by hopeless attempts to look like proper players. McEnroe had a walk-on part in “Players” and regretted it, saying that tennis films were always terrible. Read More

NextGen Opening Ceremony

My friend Scott Barclay’s article on that disgraceful opening ceremony. The organisers have apologised but what were they thinking?


So, Dmitrov (a.k.a Baby Fed) finally won a major title at 02 last night.

What took him so long? Girls, apparently. Lots of them. His performances off the court clearly affected his performances on it. The most high profile one was, of course, Sharapova. When asked what attracted him to her he said, “well, she’s tall and she’s blonde. What else would you want?” Err, brains, or humour maybe?? My opinion of him plummeted. Read More

Wimbledon Tennis 2017

by Katrina Allen

This article appeared in  LanguedocLiving  July 2017

Usually, I’m really sad when Wimbledon finishes but this year I was particularly sad, and not for the usual reasons. In terms of the main singles events it was simply a very disappointing fortnight and yet it all promised to be so exciting. The women’s event without Maria Sharapova or Serena Williams was as open as it had been for many years, and there was no clear favourite. Much to the excitement of the Brits, Johanna Konta appeared to be in with a real chance after beating both world number one Angelique Kerber and Roland Garros winner Jelena Ostapenko at the warm-up tournament in Eastbourne. The pressure on home players at the Slams is relentless, but Konta skilfully sidetracked the press by endlessly discussing her muffin-making skills. We were even treated to pictures of her arriving at Wimbledon carrying a tupperware container. Would she add white chocolate tomorrow? Oh, the tension. Read More

Choking. Is this what happened to Cilic?

Some rather sinister fiction…



Crying Wolf

Hunched over, barely visible in the dark room, standard lamp flickering in the opposite corner. She was wearing that saggy old stained dress which she virtually lived in.

‘I’m dying, I’m dying’ she declared breathily, eyes theatrically wide in what I assumed to be feigned terror. It was comical.

’What’s wrong with you?’ I asked flatly. We’d been there so often.

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Halle Tennis Tournament, June 2017.

This article first appeared on Campden Hill LTC  Website, May 2017.

Halle (The Gerry Weber Open) Tournament, Katrina Allen

Have you been lucky enough to see the sublime Roger Federer play live? This time last year, I hadn’t, and was pretty desperate to do so before he retired.

And then I came across William Skidelsky’s book ‘Federer and Me, a Story of an Obsession’. It’s a brilliant read, both funny and informative but, best of all, in his chapter about the German tournament in Halle, he revealed how I might realise my dream. For this is where Federer plays his Wimbledon warm-up and where he has a lifetime contract (so there’s no chance of seeing him at the rival tournament at Queen’s). And, unlike Queen’s, there’s a sliding roof so play is guaranteed in the main stadium where they naturally schedule all his matches. Read More

Roland Garros, French Tennis Open – Languedoc Living, June 2017

This article first appeared in Languedoc Living, June 2017

So, the clay court season has finished, culminating, as always, in Roland Garros, the French Open. I’m always rather sad when the French finishes. Gruelling rallies on the dusty clay, in the heat, over the best of five sets are exciting to watch. Wimbledon seems almost dainty in comparison.

The men’s singles produced a couple of real crackers, Andy Murray vs Juan del Potro in the quarters and Murray, again, vs Stan Wawrinka in the semis. The Scot had his chances to get to the final but ‘Stan the Man’ wore him down with ferocious ground strokes – the man is built like a barrel. Murray had beaten the other thumper in the previous round and must have been exhausted by the barrage to which the two men had subjected him. To say Del Potro hits the ball hard is an understatement. His forehand is so heavy it sounds like a rifle crack every time the ball leaves his racket, and to see a match with one of the best attackers against an incredible defender was a tasty spectacle. It’s so unfortunate for ‘Delpo’ that he’s been plagued by injury throughout his career, needing three surgeries on one wrist alone. He would have been a wonderful role model as a serial Grand Slam champion.

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The Dominatrix

(I have interviewed the Mistress, Her House Slave, Her P.A., a Freudian Psychoanalyst and a sex therapist for a comprehensive article on this subject.)

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‘Traveleyes’ is an intriguing travel concept geared towards both blind and sighted travellers. Swopping on a daily basis, blind and sighted people are paired up, the sighted ones guiding and explaining what they see.  It’s a brilliant way to wake up all our senses: smell the game in Africa, sniff perfumes in a perfume house in France, feel snow crunching underfoot, smell spices in Morocco, taste Italian cuisine and experience the world through a blind person’s perceptions. These tours tend to attract solo travellers, a lot of whom are single or who simply decide to leave their partners at home! The sighted people also  get a considerable discount on the trips.

Can’t wait to go on one!

Return to the Calais Jungle

This article first appeared in Languedoc Living September 2016

I recently went back to the Calais Jungle as a volunteer for the third time within the last twelve months.

(photograph by Katrina Allen)

So, what’s changed during that time?

Well, when I was first there last October, there were an estimated 5,000 migrants at the camp. According to a census a couple of weeks ago, conducted by two of the charities helping out, the numbers have now reached 9,000, with a 29% increase in just one month and around 70 new arrivals every day.

Each time I’ve been, The Jungle has looked more and more like a concentration camp, reminiscent of recent trips to Auschwitz and the West Bank. The first rather shocking sight when driving off the ferry is of massively high, doubled-up barbed wire-topped fencing, stretching for miles. Creepy-looking sea containers house about 1,800 refugees. The rest of them are living in disintegrating tents and decaying shacks. According to two long-term volunteers I spoke to who live in the camp, the place is now teeming with rats, mostly coming out at night. No doubt they try and get into tents, looking for food. Read More

Halle Tennis Tournament 2016 – Gerry Weber Open (GWO)

This article first appeared in Languedoc Living in June 2016

Halle Tennis

by Katrina Allen


“Get yourself to Halle” urges William Skidelsky in his excellent book “Federer and Me”.

Like the author, I am a complete Roger Federer nut. Why? Because he is the most beautiful, elegant and creative tennis player there has surely ever been. I get goose bumps just thinking about his game. Like a Muhammad Ali or a David Beckham, he transcends his sport, adored by people who don’t even like tennis. Pancho Gonzales once said of Pete Sampras, “he moves on oil”. Nothing like Roger he didn’t, but then Pancho was no longer alive when Fed. really came into his own.


(photograph by Katrina Allen)

Skidelsky’s book is a homage to Roger. It’s his “story of obsession”. But the book is more than that. It’s funny, personal, highly informative and at times quite technical. It should be on every tennis fan’s bookshelf. Unless you are a Nadal fan that is, as he is unbelievably rude about the Spaniard, though I do get his point. In comparison, Nadal is a brute, a tic-ridden, inelegant, boring, topspin machine, everything Roger isn’t.

So I took his advice and got myself to Halle this past week because I was desperate to see Roger live before he retired. Federer is now 34, pretty ancient in tennis terms, and he seems to be going a bit downhill physically. He was famous for never getting injured, a credit to his easy style, but now he’s having a few back problems. I reckoned this year might be the last chance, and never to have seen him live would be something for which I’d never have forgiven myself.

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Halle Tennis Tournament (GWO) 2016 Tournament Magazine

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The Gerry Weber Open – Der Besondere Profi


Real Tennis player, Katrina Allen, is at the GWO (The Gerry Weber Open in Halle, Germany) for the first time.

She was the World no. 1. She took part in the British, Australian, US and French Open tournaments in both singles and doubles and she won them all.

She isn’t a big name in tennis history but that’s because we aren’t talking about our game but a different form of tennis “the original game, invented in the 12th century by the French” explains Katrina Allen, who is working at GWO at a journalist.  “It’s a complicated game with complicated rules”.  But this is what inspired her. “The sport is very challenging. The court is massive, the balls hard and the wooden rackets heavy.  “I loved all that” says the Londoner.  Today Real Tennis is not particularly well-known and is played in only a few countries.

Katrina has come to Halle just to be at the GWO. “This tournament is like a festival.  I have been at many major tennis tournaments, but none as impressive as this one.  The atmosphere is great, very relaxed and informal.  My main reason for coming was to see Roger Federer. He is just wonderful, an exceptional player.”  Roger was the only top ten player she hadn’t seen so she has finally ticked him off her list.


The French Open Tennis, Roland Garros 2016

by Katrina Allen.

This article first appeared in Languedoc Living in June 2016.

(photograph by Katrina Allen)

So, yet again, no French singles winner, male or female, at Roland Garros. The last man to do so was Yannick Noah, so cherished by the French, back in 1983. As for the women, the nervy and somewhat histrionic Mary Pierce won in 2000 but she was Canadian-born and raised in the States so I’m not sure that really counts. The French probably think it does as the previous winner was Francoise Durr back in 1967 and I expect they were a bit desperate. For a ‘French woman’ I’ve never heard such a deeply-entrenched American accent.

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Murray vs Raonic – Aegon The Queen’s Club final


L’Equipe 20/06/2016

Translated by Katrina Allen



The Queen’s Club Tournament: Andy Murray wins for the 5th time.

The Scot, Andy Murray, triumphed at Queen’s for the 5th time in his career by beating Milos Raonic on Sunday.

Murray has now overtaken several outstanding former champions: John McEnroe, Andy Roddick, Boris Becker, Lleyton Hewitt and Roy Emerson, each one a four times winner.  His previous triumphs were in 2009, 2011, 2013 and 2015.  This time he beat Milos Raonic  (6-7, 6-4, 6-3 in 2h12) in the final.  The match didn’t start well for the Scot (a recent finalist at Roland Garros).  Everything rested on the serve in the first set and the Canadian’s was impenetrable (72% on his first serve) and Murray, although fairly strong himself in this department, lost it in the tie-break.

Lendl left before the prize-giving

Raonic was the more rested of the two players, having had quick wins in his previous two matches, whereas Murray struggled over three sets in his quarter final against Edmund and then against Cilic in the semis. Raonic forged on, going 3-0 up in the second set. And then his game started breaking down. A few moments of doubt, particularly on the volley, (3/10 in the second set),  producing just two aces, and the world no. 9 lost his way.  Murray, always solid on the serve, was rewarded each time in his six approaches to the net. As Murray started reading the ball better, the Canadian couldn’t come up with any solutions. Murray got back to 2-3 and then romped away with the match. He won 5 games in a row to go 5-3 up and pocketed the set at the first time of asking.

In a flawless display, Murray broke in the first game of the third set and closed it out on his third match point. This is the British man’s 37th career title.  Since the beginning of this tournament, Ivan Lendl has been re-appointed as Murray’s coach while Lendl’s old rival John McEnroe was in the other player’s box, as Raonic’s new coach.  For some strange reason, as Murray lifted the trophy, Lendl disappeared from sight. No matter.  Andy Murray did what he had to and can go into Wimbledon in a week’s time with confidence.

Languedoc Living, Calais Jungle


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Diva Magazine, National Coming Out Day


Male to male romance

(full piece available on request)

I recently met a woman at a meet-up group who makes her living out of writing male-to-male erotic romance. What is even stranger about this is the fact that some 70% of readers are women.

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Typically Kiwi

Bead Gallery

Tasty Buggers Cafe (photo by Katrina Allen)

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Real Tennis – the rules

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