Champion: Henry Henman
The IRTA returned to Radley for its 2019 Open Championship, which took place over the weekend of 7–9 June. Play started on the Friday evening, and continued through Saturday and Sunday, with plenty of tennis for all: entrants participated not only in a handicap singles tournament but also in a doubles competition.
The handicaps ranged from 29 to 76, but almost all of the players were within 20 handicap points of one another, between 35 and 55. Numerous familiar faces returned for this year’s tournament, but we also welcomed players to their first IRTA event. The singles tournament followed the repechage system, with the programme of play organised such that on Sunday morning everyone was still in contention; the doubles pairs were divided into two, with four pairs emerging from Friday and Saturday’s group matches to play semi-finals and a final on Sunday afternoon.
Friday evening saw Renaud Besnard play very consistently to defeat Rustom Manecksha (6/4). Patrick Dolan, fresh from Heathrow and hitting his first real tennis balls in almost 12 months, improved throughout his match against Jenny Jones as he re-acclimatised to the game, but ultimately Jones emerged the winner, 6/3. Saturday morning saw further singles matches, with William Wilks, Roland Budd, James Rossiter, and Henry Henman all progressing (Henman, significantly, with a win over Jenny Jones, 6/4). Wilks continued his form of earlier in the day to defeat Budd (6/0), and Rossiter was too powerful for the more measured Henman (6/3), so Wilks and Rossiter qualified for Sunday afternoon’s semi-finals, with their opponents to be determined according to the outcome of Sunday morning’s repechage.
The repechage saw some close matches, not least Patrick Dolan’s win over Tony Penny (6/5), and Mark Maclure’s over Rustom Manecksha (6/4). In the final round of the repechage the hard-hitting Maclure was convincingly overcome by Henry Henman (6/1), and Jenny Jones — in a match that see-sawed from 3/0 to 3/5, and required intense concentration by Mark Heffernan who acted as marker — ultimately defeated Roland Budd 6/5.
In the semi-finals Henry Henman thus met William Wilks, with Jenny Jones taking on James Rossiter. Henman, with his concentration, careful serving, and speedy movement around the court, defeated Wilks (6/2) in spite of the latter’s accuracy and consistency. The clean-hitting Rossiter then faced a challenging handicap difference against Jones, who maintained her composure to take the second semi-final (also 6/2). The finalists had met in the second round, when Henman had won, 6/4. The final was a fascinating study in careful and conscientious tennis, with Jones serving and returning serve well, but Henman using the corners of the court very effectively (in spite of a handicap barring his use of the tambour) to win, 8/3.
A doubles competition was played alongside the handicap singles tournament, with the lowest handicap player paired with the highest, the second-lowest with the second-highest, and so on. The pairs were divided into two groups, with two pairs emerging from each group to play semi-finals. Richard Ramjane and James Rossiter went undefeated through the weekend, emerging at the top of their group; defeating William Wilks and Mark Keogh in their semi-final (6/3); and then Renaud Besnard and Tony Penny in the final (8/3).
We are grateful to all the players and supporters who joined us at Radley in the course of the weekend; to Radley for permitting us to hold our Open Championship at their court once again; and particularly to Chris Ronaldson for support, advice, and assistance in planning, organising, and running the event – not least in devising the draw and playing programme in such as way as to fit so many matches into the time available.
— Roland Budd
(Photos courtesy Rustom Manecksha via the @realIRTA twitter feed.)
Henry Henman and Jenny Jones rejoined the tournament at the semi-final stage having emerged from their respective sides of the repechage:
Players’ doubles handicaps are shown in parentheses after their names.
Semi-final and final