The final leg of the IRTA's touring programme for 2007 took the form of visits to Moreton Morrell and The Oratory over 28–30th December. The travelling group was made up of Roland Budd, David Lowry, and Suresh Kumar. On Friday 28th December we enjoyed a warm welcome at Moreton Morrell, in particular from longstanding IRTA members Johnny Cook and Richard Marmoy. Singles and doubles matches were played between the tourists and local club members and Suresh, a newcomer to the game, had a lesson with one of the club professionals, Jo Iddles. The session at Moreton Morrell was an excellent start to the tour, and also provided the opportunity to maintain the contact between the IRTA and the club which had been initiated on the occasion of a fixture in early 2005. We look forward to being able to return the hospitality of the Moreton Morrell Tennis Court Club in Ireland before too long!
The Saturday and Sunday were spent at The Oratory, a school in the Berkshire countryside with impressive sports facilities. Here the Irish contingent was reinforced in number through the addition of several local expatriates, and what might otherwise have been a quiet post-Christmas spell at the school sports centre was enlivened by activity. On the Saturday morning six new players were introduced to the game by two of the Oratory professionals, Bryn Sayers and Ross Brown. The rest of the day was devoted to doubles, with participants being divided into three round-robin groups, culminating in play-offs. Many people outperformed their handicaps, which was encouraging, and which demonstrated in some cases how much might be gained through additional time on court. Suresh and most of the other beginners adapted quickly to the pace of the game and became increasingly comfortable with the layout of the court and principles of the scoring system.
On Sunday it was all singles, and a few thrilling matches were played between the stronger players, including loyal IRTA supporters Robert Hird, Karen Hird, and Aldona Greenwood. Roland also performed well, as did David, whose results suggested that his handicap for the weekend might soon be adjusted downwards. Occasional forays onto the squash court served as warm-up sessions for some of the tennis players throughout the weekend, and also provided an alternative activity between tennis matches.
Mark Keogh was the local organiser and played a superb role in the smooth running of the weekend. Lunch was arranged for all comers each day, as well as an excellent meal at a local pub on the Saturday evening. Friends and family members of other participants also attended, and all contributed to the success of the event.
It was a memorable weekend for all and certainly for your reporter, Suresh, who set out eager to discover real tennis and is planning to make further trips to play very soon! Many thanks are owed to Roland and to Mark for organising the weekend. We look forward to an increased number of IRTA tours to courts in the UK and beyond. Much anticipated is the first trip of the new year: the IRTA will visit Cambridge in January in conjunction with the Dublin University Squash Rackets Club. We would like to thank each of Moreton Morrell Tennis Court Club and The Oratory School Real Tennis Club for its welcome, as well as all the members who were part of the weekend's sporting event.
— Suresh Kumar