Champion: Roland Budd
The weekend of 10th–11th September 2016 saw the Irish Real Tennis Association visit Cambridge. The IRTA Irish Closed Championship was held on Saturday 10th, and on Sunday 11th the IRTA played a match against our hosts, the Cambridge University Real Tennis Club.
9 o’clock on Saturday morning saw the early birds warming up in preparation for the first round of the knock-out tournament, which got under way with Roland Budd (seeded 1) playing Tony Penny (8) and Richard Ramjane (2) taking on Vince Lucey (7) at 9.30am. Matches were played to half handicap difference, and each was the best of three sets, with the third set to start at 3/3. Penny started strongly and came close in both sets, but it was Lucey who provided the early upset, emerging 6/3, 6/4. The other two first round matches followed the seeding, with Rupert Derham (3) very effective against Mark Keogh (6), and Mark Heffernan (4) recovering to win a long match against Paul Brennan (5), 4/6, 6/5, 6/5.
The semi-finals of the plate competition (for first round losers) were more clear-cut, with Penny defeating Brennan and Ramjane defeating Keogh. By the time of the plate final everyone had played two best-of-3-set singles matches and three sets of doubles; unfortunately for Tony Penny a pre-existing knee problem flared up part way through the plate final and he found himself obliged to retire, conceding the match to Richard Ramjane.
The semi-finals of the main draw both went with the seeding: Heffernan took six games from Budd, and Lucey took six games from Derham. The final therefore brought two past winners together; while Derham came close, Budd ultimately prevailed by a narrow margin, 6/5, 6/4.
Pairings in the doubles tournament were determined by seeding the entrants using their doubles handicaps, and then matching 1 with 8, 2 with 7, and so on. Each pair played against the other three in a round robin group with each match being a single six-game set, played level. Ramjane and Lucey went through the round robin undefeated, with Budd and Keogh winning two of their three matches and thus taking the second spot in the final. The round robin meeting between these two pairs had been a see-saw affair, with Ramjane and Lucey overcoming a 1/5 deficit to win 6/5. Budd and Keogh managed to avoid a repeat of that performance, and held their concentration to take the match 10/7.
In the course of the presentation of prizes, including the marvellous perpetual trophy, an update was provided on the situation regarding the Earlsfort Terrace court, and thanks were expressed to all involved in organising the day’s tournament, as well as to the Cambridge University Real Tennis Club for permitting us once again to use their two excellent courts.
On Sunday 11th the IRTA played a match against our hosts, the CURTC. The day did not start well for the IRTA, with Roland Budd losing the first set of the morning to Julian Stafford, 2/6. In spite of a Budd recovery to take the second, 6/2, Stafford started the third (which began at 3/3) strongly and raced to 5/3, ultimately winning 6/4. However, this turned out to be the only CURTC win of the day. Vince Lucey levelled the overall score in defeating Karen Pearce 6/2, 6/3; Tony Penny and Grattan MacGiffin combined very well to beat Christie Marrian and Vix Harvey 6/3, 6/3; and finally Mark Keogh, having lost the first set 5/6 to John Lees, took the second 6/3 and the third 6/4 to secure the match for the IRTA.
Thank you to the CURTC — committee, members, and pros — for having us back, and in particular to our opponents in the Sunday match for some keenly contested tennis and an excellent lunch.
Photos: Mark Heffernan
CURTC vs IRTA results