Absolute beginners to the game as well as more experienced real tennis players made up the IRTA group which travelled to play at the Manchester Tennis and Racquet Club over the weekend of the 21st and 22nd April 2007. The Irish players were received with tremendous warmth and hospitality by their Manchester hosts and the weekend kicked off with the beginners enjoying introductory lessons to the game with MTRC head professional, Steve Brockenshaw. Several members of the club came in at various stages of the two days to offer some excellent singles and doubles tennis opposition while other members provided entertainment and accommodation on the Saturday night.

Stella Heap, manager of the MTRC, had done great work to ensure the smooth running of the weekend from the Manchester side despite a busy diary preparing for the 2007 Ladies' World Championship tournament which was played at the MTRC during the week beginning 30th April. An unexpected bonus of the weekend was that the Irish players got to see some high level play on court. Kate Leeming of Australia, one of the seeded players in the Ladies' World Championship, had just arrived in Manchester to prepare for the event. Not only did she display an impressive standard of tennis but she also took time to have lunch with the Irish members and to share her knowledge and ideas. Kate offered some valuable insights and suggestions for the development of the game of real tennis based on her experience as a professional in several clubs around the world. She expressed her support for the IRTA and hopes to play on the Dublin court some day (as do we all!).

The weekend was excellently organized from both sides of the Irish Sea, with ample opportunities being provided both for time on court and socializing with the Manchester members. It is hoped that a further fixture with the MTRC will be arranged for late 2007 or early 2008. If you would be interested in joining the next IRTA trip to Manchester, please contact us.

— Roland Budd