Champion: James Rossiter
The seventeenth annual Irish Real Tennis Championship took place on Saturday 14th September 2019 at Prested Hall. The eleven entrants ranged in handicap from about thirty to about sixty. Championship matches were a single set to ten games, and were played to half handicap difference (as has become customary at this event). The day also included a doubles tournament (with the twelfth player being provided by the host club). Matches started at 9am and continued on both courts with hardly a break until shortly before 7pm.
This year’s tournament was remarkable for the fact that three of the top four seeds were beaten in their opening matches — and the only one to progress did so by virtue of his opponent retiring, rather than as a result of winning a completed match (though he then went on to lose at the semi-final stage). The semi-finalists were thus the first, fifth, sixth, and seventh seeds, with the fifth and sixth seeds advancing to the final. Something seemed to have conspired against those with a handicap in the thirties: this was the day of the forty-something handicappers….
The first round did go according to seeding, with Vince Lucey (7), James Rossiter (6), and Tony Penny (8) defeating Hugh Antrobus (10), Hannah Lucey (11), and Patrick Dolan (9), respectively. It was in the quarter finals that the upsets began, with Richard Ramjane (4) beaten by Mark Heffernan (5), Rupert Derham (2) relinquishing what appeared to be a commanding lead to Vince Lucey, and James Rossiter overcoming Johnny Borrell (3). Tony Penny’s retirement part way through his match against Roland Budd (1) meant that only one of the top four appeared in a semi-final. In that semi-final, however, although recovering from 1–5 to 5–5, and then making a late surge, Roland Budd was defeated by Mark Heffernan, 10–8. On the other side of the draw, James Rossiter beat Vince Lucey 10–3, thus setting up a final between Mark Heffernan (handicap 43·6) and James Rossiter (43·7).
Meanwhile, the plate competition had run according to a more predictable pattern, with Richard Ramjane and Rupert Derham emerging as finalists, and Richard ultimately the winner.
A Prested Hall member, Amy Pye, joined us for the doubles competition, forming what turned out to be a winning partnership with Mark Heffernan: they defeated Richard Ramjane and Patrick Dolan in the final, 8–7.
The final looked — given that Mark Heffernan and James Rossiter had almost identical handicaps — as though it ought to be a very close match. However, it came at the end of a long day of tennis, and this seemed to favour youth over experience — not least as Mark had just completed his win with Amy in the doubles competition. James played very impressive tennis throughout the day, and while several of the games in the final were close, he seemed to produce winners at key moments and lost his first and only game when 9–0 ahead, taking the match in convincing fashion 10–1.
The full results of the tournament are set out below.
On Sunday 15th the IRTA took on Prested Hall and while wins for the Irish were few and far between (see results below), we enjoyed plenty of friendly but competitive tennis in the course of the day.
A big thank you from the IRTA to Prested Hall — the club and its members — for welcoming us back, for permitting us to play our tournament on the two courts on the Saturday, and for providing some excellent opposition on the Sunday; and particularly to the professionals, Rob Fahey, Claire Fahey, and Ged Parsons, for assistance in setting up the weekend, and helping to ensure that it all ran smoothly… and for plenty of marking, too.
— Roland Budd
IRTA vs Prested Hall results
A person shall be eligible to play in the Irish Championship if