2011 Barry Toates Trophy

RMTC 3 defeated by SRTC 7

 

The newly reconstituted Sydney Real Tennis Club sent one of their strongest teams in recent years to contest the annual Barry Toates Trophy against the RMTC on 17 September 2011.

A plaintive email from Sydney’s captain, James Willis, referring to a heavy loss by to the Hobart Real Tennis Club earlier in the year, led to some leniency in the handicaps given to the eight Barbarians who made the journey South.

The first match saw the evergreen Richard Fawcett and Cooper minimus take on Simon Brain and Andrew Schnaider.  A tight, long set with many a point in balance resulted in an 8/6 victory to Sydney.  The Hamer Court was well warmed by the Fawcett’s hot air.

Dick Friend and Paul Williams struggled to find their usual good length and were vanquished by Willis and Cooper minor.

SRTC’s President David Pinsent, playing extraordinary tennis, partnered Peter Nicholas, still aglow from Hawthorn’s victory the previous night.  The inspired duo were too strong for Andrew Buckle and Howard Mason, though the score line of 8/0 belied no fewer than 6 “advantage-all” games.

Cooper minor and Cooper minimus played several points better than they should have to defeat Owen Guest and Paul Williams.  RMTC’s President later dispensed some free advice on serving in doubles to his partner.

At 0/4 down with six matches to go, RMTC’s prospects looked grim.  Enter Mark Derham, persuaded to play twice a year this year (generally being a once a year JB Box Trophy specialist).  Directed by Andrew Buckle, Derham’s serves, when they were not double faults, were too tricky for Campbell Bartlett, a newcomer to the event, who teamed up with Monsieur Pinsent, as the Barbarians referred to their leader.

The tide turning, Friend and Schnaider then led Fawcett and Willis 6/3 before being caught and overtaken to be down 7/6.  Schnaider, giving the much better Willis 15 in the 14th game managed to get it back to 7 all and in with a chance in the final game, during which, regrettably, Friend re-discovered his love-affair with the net.

1/5 down and needing a clean sweep of the last four matches for a draw to retain the trophy as current holders, the neat pair of Mason and Brain looked impressive against Cooper minor and Pinsent.  Some stunning volleys by Brain and steady backhands from Mason saw them establish a lead.  However, luck was clearly with the Barbarians and it was again Pinsent who starred, particularly in volleying in front of the tambour.  Another 8/7 win and a 6/1 unassailable lead to Sydney.

In the dead rubbers Derham and Buckle could not quite keep up their earlier form against Nicholas and the rapidly improving Bartlett, Guest and Schnaider fought back from 4/7 down to win against Peter Estcourt and Willis and Friend and Mason outlasted Estcourt and Cooper minimus.

On the whole a great contest, with many close matches played in excellent spirit with plenty of banter, which continued late into the night at dinner at the Club.  The Barbarians were justifiably elated by their victory and look forward to defending the Trophy next in 2012.