A big thank you to the organisers of the fixture, David Lowry for the IRTA and Gus Robertson for the Haphazards. Wonderful tennis in a wonderful location, and great company over an excellent lunch. Many thanks to all the Haphazards — looking forward already to next year’s fixture.
Rustom Manecksha V James Hay
The day kicked off with the Irish number 2 rated player first into battle. Although James was receiving half 15, Rustom was quickly out of the blocks and built a comfortable lead in the first set. Rustom’s left-handed railroad was working nicely on the Bickley court and James was struggling to keep the ball off the roof. First set to Rustom 6–0. The second set saw James spend more time at the service end, but in spite of this, Rustom closed it out 6–3. First blood to the Irish!
Rustom Manecksha V Mark Heffernan
Due to an injury to Gus Robertson, Mark H. abandoned his compatriots and played for the Haphazards. Rustom stayed on court for the Irish and by now his railroad was sticking to the sidewall like a sticky thing. Despite this, the stand-in Haphazard manged to win the first set 6–3. Rustom then came storming back to take the second set 6–0. The deciding set was more competitive, but Rustom was never behind and took it 6–3.
Rustom 2 – Haphazards 0 — and MH’s prospect of ever receiving an invitation to join the Haphazards lay in tatters.
Richard Ramjane V Guy Robertson
The Irish number one arrived fresh from the Padel courts of Prested Hall and immediately looked at home on the Hardwick real tennis court. He took an early lead in the first set against Guy (who was receiving 15 every game) and never looked like losing it — first set to Ireland 6–2. The second set was a lot closer and at 5–5 it could have gone either way, but Guy piped to tie the match at one set all. The deciding set was close, but Richard took it 6–4.
Mark Keogh V James Whiting
Mark K. took to the Hardwick court wearing a top from the new range of IRTA leisure wear. He certainly looked the part, but after a couple of very tight early games the IRTA fleece was removed and it was down to business. The first set was tight all the way to 5–5, but the Haphazard just edged it in the final game. Then something extraordinary happened: James discovered a large opening at the receivers end and decided to hit the ball into it — all the time. Sadly for Mark it was the winning gallery and the sound of bells rang around the Hardwick court. Occasionally, just for a bit of variety, James would hit the grille. The result was a 6–0 second set masterclass and the Haphazards were finally on the scoreboard.
Derek O’Sullivan V Tom Robertson
The final match of the fixture featured the IRTA Merchandise Director (and reigning Irish Open Champion), and the tension was palpable in the dedans as the crowd waited to see what Derek would be wearing. Needless to say, he didn’t disappoint! This was always going to be a tight match and predictably the first set went to 5–5 with Tom’s powers of retrieval to the fore. However, Derek managed to take the final game and the Irish were in the lead. The second set was equally competitive, but with Derek dominating the service end the Irish took it 6–3.
— Mark Heffernan
Photos courtesy Rustom Manecksha.