Champion: Derek O'Sullivan
The 2016 Irish Tennis Open was once again held at Radley College on the weekend of 11–12 June 2016. Both a singles and doubles tournament were conducted, with some doubles matches being kindly hosted at the Oratory School to facilitate completion within the two days. Eleven of the 16 competitors were Irish, with four having travelled over for the tournament.
Two Irish Open novices Holly O’Grady and Harry O’Sullivan were opponents in the first match of the tournament, with O’Sullivan winning comfortably 6–0 in what was O’Grady’s first competitive game. Rupert Derham progressed with ease through the early rounds, winning his first two matches 6–0 before he was dismissed in the quarter-final by Derek O’Sullivan, a man on a mission, who had already filicidally dispatched his son Harry in the previous round. Speculation mounted as to whether the adoption of a white glove had sufficiently transformed Derek’s tennis to allow him a shot at the title.
In the other half of the draw, defending champion Emmanuel Joffrin faced his compatriot Alex Foix, losing 6–3 to the younger man to be sent into the repechage. Foix went on to lose 6–3 to Mark Heffernan in the next round, before he in turn was defeated 6–4 by Jack Woods, who made consistent progress through the day to reach the semi-final.
On Sunday, the repechage tournament took full swing with a tight contest seeing Holly O’Grady defeat John Previte 6–5 in the first match. Roland Budd made swift progress, dispatching Vern Cassin, Mark Keogh and Alex Foix before succumbing to a refreshed and confident Rupert Derham. Harry O’Sullivan made progress in the other side of the repechage, improving his performance in each match to beat David Lowry and Chris Lindsay, before Mark Heffernan stole a march on him into the semi-finals.
The first semi-final saw a dominant Derek O’Sullivan take a resounding 6–1 win over Mark Heffernan to make his first Irish Open final. Jack Woods was a slow starter in the other semi-final as Rupert Derham came through with a 6–2 win.
The final pitted the energetic Derham against a confident O’Sullivan. Some excellent tennis was witnessed, as O’Sullivan continued his impressive form of the weekend to bring him to a deserved 6–2 and a first ever Irish Open title. He was duly presented with the trophy, and indeed he had donated a special bespoke IRTA racket to be given to the victor in addition, which we hope is now sitting alongside the trophy on his mantelpiece!
The doubles tournament produced some enjoyable encounters through the group stages, with semifinalists comprising David Lowry & Mark Heffernan vs Richard Ramjane & Harry O’Sullivan and Alex Foix & Anthony Penny vs Rupert Derham & Derek O’Sullivan. Lowry/Heffernan and Foix/Penny won their semifinals in impressive performances. Despite the uncanny understanding and easy synergy between Lowry & Heffernan, they were unable to prevent Foix & Penny from winning a tense final 6–3.
A fantastic weekend was had by all participants thanks to the generous hosting of Radley and particularly of Chris Ronaldson, whose tireless work made the whole event very efficient and enjoyable. The "behind the scenes" work of Roland Budd and Ben and Bear North were also paramount to the success of the weekend. Our next tournament is the Irish Championships, which will be held in Cambridge on the weekend of 10–11 September.
Report: Jack Woods
Photos: Rustom Manecksha
Mark Heffernan and Rupert Derham rejoined the tournament at the semi-final stages after winning their repechage events:
Semi-final and final