Champion: Kevin Sammon
The 12th IRTA Open Championship was held at Radley College over the warm and sunny weekend of 14th–15th June 2014. Following the format of recent years, the draw was restricted to 16 players and each match was played to handicap, with all but the final being decided by a single set to 6. We also once again adopted the repechage system, ensuring not only that those defeated once had another chance to earn a place in the semi-finals, but also that every entrant was guaranteed at least one match on the second day of the tournament.
In early years the IRTA Championship weekend usually involved a good deal of doubles, and rather less singles, though more recently the Open has been a singles tournament. This year, however, in addition to the singles, we held a doubles competition. On Saturday morning, while the first singles matches were played at Radley, those in the other half of the draw were playing doubles at The Oratory; and on Saturday afternoon those who had already played singles went to the Merton College court, in Oxford, for their doubles matches. Richard Ramjane and David Lowry emerged as the best of the pairs from The Oratory, while Kevin Sammon and Mike Bolton defeated all comers at Merton College.
On Saturday evening most of the participants, plus a few guests, enjoyed a meal at The Merry Miller, not far from Radley. While the food and drink were very welcome, we were all distracted by the evident discomfort of Alex Foix who, having flown in from France for the tournament, and having won several matches in the course of the day, found himself struck by cramp at the dinner table and ended up spending part of the evening on the floor.
Sunday saw the repechage matches, out of which Rupert Derham and Mark Heffernan qualified for semi-finals against Kevin Sammon and Alex Foix. Alex appeared to have made a full recovery from his cramp by the time of his semi-final, but Mark proved too consistent; in the other semi-final Rupert, who had already shown control and restraint in overcoming large handicap differences in a series of rounds, found the restrictions too great against Kevin.
Kevin was also involved in the final of the doubles tournament, but he and Mike Bolton were outgunned by the lower handicappers Richard Ramjane and David Lowry.
In the final of the singles tournament, Kevin — who had abandoned hope of catching his scheduled flight back to Dublin in order to complete the tournament — played impressively and effectively to emerge as the IRTA Open Champion for 2014.
The IRTA is most grateful to Radley for permitting us to hold our tournament at the College once again; to Chris Ronaldson for all his assistance in organising and running the event, and to Mark Eadle for his help in the course of the weekend; to The Oratory RTC, and particularly Liam Taylor who welcomed the IRTA party so warmly on Saturday morning; to the OUTC, for permitting us to use the Merton College court on Saturday afternoon; and the North family who did great work from Dublin on the preparations for the weekend.
— Roland Budd (text); Roland Budd and Rupert Derham (photos)