The IRTA visited Jesmond Dene Real Tennis Club in Newcastle over the weekend of 7–8 January. The programme involved plenty of tennis, with singles and doubles matches (each of a single set to 8 games) running through both days, and dinner at a local restaurant for a group of some 25 players and supporters on the Saturday evening.
The locals got off to a strong start on Saturday morning, but the IRTA managed to recover three matches by the close of play to leave the overall score at 6–3 to Jesmond going into Sunday. By lunchtime on Sunday the IRTA had overhauled their hosts to lead 7–6, but from then on neither side led at any stage by more than one, and the teams were level at 9–9 going into the final doubles match on Sunday afternoon... which was won comfortably by an experienced and effective Jesmond pair. The outcome of that final match was the exception, with almost all other matches in the course of the weekend being very close, and several indeed being decided on the final point.
The IRTA party very much appreciated the opportunity to visit Jesmond Dene RTC again, not least given the enforced interruption of such fixtures over the last couple of years. Many thanks to all involved on the JDRTC side for welcoming us so warmly, and for all the tennis. Particular thanks are due to Nick and Simon for setting up the fixture and for organising such a good programme, and to Mark and Richard for all the marking in the course of the weekend.
By way of footnote, it was good to have been able to inspect the real tennis court on Earlsfort Terrace in Dublin in September 2022 with a group from Newcastle. The interior of the court has been cleared such that one has, for the first time in many many years (indeed the first time in several decades, we assume), an impression of the full extent of the playing area. The space is without penthouses and battery walls; some openings have unfortunately been broken through the main wall; and there is significant damage to most of the limestone slabs on the floor; but some chase markings survive, and the character of the court is more readily appreciated than at any stage in recent memory.