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100 & Overs

The first event of the RMTC’s regular season for 2011, the 100 and Overs Tournament, was played today by ten pairs, none of whom lived up to the event’s reputation for catering to the old and cantankerous.  Everyone seemed to be playing well with no particular team proving dominant.  Each of the semi-finalists had tasted defeat during the round robin stage with two of the teams having 2/2 (win/loss) records – so things were tight.  Through to the semi-finals were Sophie Johnson and Peter Fenwick who were pitted against Greg Moran and Steve Wood, and Russell Middleton and Greg Reid who played Brigitte Claney and Charles Wright.

The semi’s were surprisingly one sided.  It is always interesting to see how a good pair can still occasionally come up against a combination to which they have no answers.  The results were:

1st Semi

Moran/Wood def. Fenwick/Johnson 6/0

2nd Semi

Moran/Wood def. Claney/Wright 6/1

The final was played in good humour as well as with plenty of skill.  Greg, who won a club event late last year and Steve who is usually there-about in these handicap doubles events, both played well.  At one stage Steve served the perfect Cannonball to protect a chase.  On another occasion Steve’s Cannonball slammed straight into the Bandeau before ricocheting off narrowly missing Russell.  Russell’s partner Greg is a big man and was able to provide ample coverage for Russell to hide behind during later points.  Regardless, Steve’s aggressive and effective serving was not enough.  Greg is a fast improving player with a natural volley and Russell was clearly man-of-the-match.  During the final Russell successfully played volley returns to half a yard as well as a superb smash volley to protect the Dedan which went for a winner just below the Winning Gallery.  Congratulations Russell and Greg on your first tournament wins at the RMTC and well done to everyone to everyone else for making it a fun day.

Final

Middleton/Reid def. Moran/Wood 6/2

Owen Guest

 

Men’s World Tennis Doubles Championship

Day 2

Wednesday’s semi finals were both well contested.  In the first semi Frank Filippelli and Kieren Booth both took the battle up to the reigning champions Fahey and Virgona.  Frank was the oldest player on court but his combination of pride and athleticism allowed Kieren enough chances to showcase his improving game.  Kieren’s volleys off the main wall and execution at the net was excellent and many said it was his best game.  To date this has been the best performance against Fahey and Virgona in either the Open or the Championship.  Never-the-less Rob and Steve still showed themselves to be the most formidable doubles pairing the game has seen to date.

The second semi was much closer.  Ben Matthews and Julian Snow were aiming to make their second doubles final in a week when they took on Ruaraidh Gunn and Chris Chapman who had looked so good yesterday.  Matthews and Snow were the first to settle and they took the first two sets with apparent ease as the tempo of the match appeared to suit them.  Only in the third set did Ruaraidh and Chris start to find their feet as they upped the pace of the game, Chris Chapman in particular played a number of magnificent forces.  The fourth set was close but an extra effort from the tiring Snow combined with Ben’s impenetrable defence at both the net and under the Grille saw them home.

Day 2 results:

Fahey/Virgona def. Filippelli/Booth 6/1 6/3 6/2

Matthews/Snow def. Gunn/Chapman 6/2 6/5 2/6 6/4

Day 1

Today saw the four quarter finals of the Men’s World Tennis Doubles Championship played.  All matches went to script with the possible exception being that the AUS amateur champion pairing of Mike Happell and Bret Richardson got beaten by Ruaraidh Gunn and Chris Chapman.

Day 1 results:

Ben Matthews/Julian Snow def. Brett McFarlaine/Dan Williams 6/1 6/1 6/3
Frank Filippelli/Kieren Booth def. Paul Tabley/Jonners Howell 6/3 6/3 6/1
Rob Fahey/Steve Virgona def. Owen Guest/Alistair Curley 6/0 6/0 6/0
Ruaraidh Gunn/Chris Chapman def. Mike Happell/Bret Richardson 6/3 6/3 6/4

Come in and watch the semi finals tomorrow – Wednesday 2nd February:

1PM Fahey/Virgona vs. Filippelli/Booth

6PM Gunn/Chapman vs. Matthews/Snow

The form of Gunn and Chapman looked ominous today so tomorrow night’s match should be a beauty.

Remember to sign up for the first four sets of the Final for this Friday night February 4.

Owen Guest

2011 Link Pumps Australian Open

Link Pumps Australian Open

Day 7

Link Pumps Australian Open Singles Final

Steve Virgona def. Rob Fahey 6/5 6/4 6/4

Steve Virgona became a three time winner of the Australian Open Singles title last night when he defeated World Champion Rob Fahey.  The match resembled an arm wrestle between two burly prize fighters.  In the first set Steve ground to a 3-1 lead only for Rob to up the ante with a series of winners to the Grille, Winning Gallery and Dedan to move to 5-4 up and looking set to take the first set – a similar pattern to last May in the WC.  However, Steve was then able to take it up a further notch using his amazing forehand to both retrieve at the service end and when opportunity arose to force beneath the Grille.  First set to Steve 6/5.

Steve’s service game throughout was similar to last May in that he complemented his variety of Railroads with the Caterpillar (designed to make Rob hit to Steve’s forehand).  This time however, Steve mixed them up more effectively and as the match progressed Steve was able to prevent the Champ from sustaining any momentum for long.  Rob made a fight of each of the final two sets but each time Steve weathered the storm and finished the stronger player.

The power hitting from both players was outstanding but the most memorable rally was finished off by a delicate lob by Rob after he had successfully brought and stranded Steve at the net.  It was a tremendous final and as well as being a replay of the World Championship match hopefully it will also be a precursor to the next one. 

Day 6

Steve Virgona playing with his sidekick Rob Fahey in the Link Pumps Australian Open Doubles Final was too strong for Ben Matthews and Julian Snow.  Steve’s forehand is both intimidating and effective with the only real upside for those playing at the opposite end being that it gives them multiple opportunities to hit the shot-of-the-match!  Ben Matthews won this award when he successfully volleyed a Virgona forehand smash (remember the shot from last May if you can’t envisage it) over the net!  Julian and Ben played with courage and much skill in their own right but on this occasion were not able to trade blows with the World’s No.1 pairing.

Link Pumps Australian Open Doubles Final

Fahey/Virgona def. Matthews/Snow 6/1 6/1 6/1

Day 5

In today’s, Saturday 29 January, results we have seen the two top seeds move through to Monday night’s Final.  In the first Semi Final Rob Fahey accounted for Ben Matthews with more efficiency than Ben would have liked.  And in the second Semi Final Steve Virgona was made to work by Bryn Sayers and his soft hands.  Bryn fell two sets to love down but then put the pressure right back on Steve by winning the third set and taking a 4/3 lead in the fourth.  It is a shame that Bryn had to pull out of yesterday’s doubles as he clearly has hands that can withstand the ball at top pace.

1st Singles Semi Final

Rob Fahey def. Ben Matthews 6/2 6/1 6/2

2nd Singles Semi Final

Steve Virgona def. Bryn Sayers 6/2 6/2 4/6 6/5

The second match was classic stuff so please join us tomorrow (Sunday 30

Janauary) for the Link Pumps Doubles Australian Open Final at 2PM.

Day 4

Unfortunately due to an injury to Bryn Sayers only one Doubles Semi Final was played which saw the World Champions Fahey/Virgona easily account for Gunn/Chapman.

1st Doubles Semi Final

(1) Fahey/Virgona def. (4) Gunn/Chapman 6/1 6/2 6/0

2ns Doubles Semi Final

(3) Matthews/Snow def. (2) Sayers/Booth w/o

Day 3

Today the Singles quarter finals were played with the highlight being the match between Ruaraidh Gunn and Ben Matthews.  It was a very tight match but as the match lengthened it favoured the younger Matthews.

Sayers def. Booth 6/3 6/2 6/2

Virgona def. Chapman 6/3 6/1 6/1

Fahey def. Happell 6/2 6/1 6/1

Matthews def. Gunn   6/0 5/6 6/3 6/2

Day 2

Day 2 has seen some fabulous quarter final doubles action.  The show piece match between Matthews/Snow and Happell/Richardson lived up to all expectations.  Matthews and Snow looked like taking the match in straight sets before the other pair levelled it at 2 sets apiece.  Only in the fifth set were Snow and Matthews able to pull away thanks largely to the steadiness of Ben Matthews at the net – whilst the other three players made the occasional error Ben was able to dictate play which proved the difference.

Day 2 results:

Fahey/Virgona def. Greenhalph/Williams 6/0 6/0 6/0

Chapman/Gunn def. Howell/Tabley 6/1 6/1 6/3

Matthews/Snow def. Happell/Richardson 6/1 6/3 3/6 3/6 6/2

Sayers/Booth def. Filippelli/Fowler 6/1 6/2 6/1

Day 1

The first day of competition mostly followed the form guide.  The highlight was Ben Matthews’s match against our Frank Filippelli.  Frank did his best to wind back the clock but could not quite close out a set.  Tomorrow is doubles quarter finals day with the following two matches being the best picks for those thinking of coming in (please see the RMTC website for the full draw):

1PM (3) B. Matthews/J. Snow versus M. Happell/B. Richardson; and

3.30PM (2) B. Sayers/K. Booth versus F. Filippelli/A. Fowler

Day 1 results:

R. Fahey def. C. White 6/0 6/0 6/0

M. Happell def. A. Fowler 6/2 6/3 6/1

B. Matthews def. F. Filippelli 6/4 6/4 6/4

R. Gunn def. M. Benkemoun 6/0 6/1 6/2

B. Sayers def. B. Richardson 6/3 6/1 6/0

K. Booth def. C. Greenhalph 6/1 6/1 6/3

C. Chapman def. D. Williams 6/1 6/2 6/1

S. Virgona def. J. Gould 6/0 6/1 6/0

Owen Guest

2010 Melbourne Cup Handicap Doubles

The 2010 Melbourne Cup will be remembered by a few at the RMTC, partly for it being the first time the race was shown on the club’s new big screen, partly for Euhana Varigos’s reaction to her partner’s (Julian Snow) failure to protect her from a C.J. thunderbolt, but mostly for the Champagne generously purchased by Julian Snow following Americain’s win in the Cup which he backed at 100:1 last August!

Prior to the big race 10 doubles teams played 4 matches each.  Some of the better performing teams on the day were Fiona Hewson and Vince Scopelliti, James Gould and C.J., and Owen Guest and Jonners but with there being no semi-finals there was no room for any slipups.  The final was played between Charles Foster and John MacKinnon (who wore a blue vest which had only one redeeming feature – it was marginally more attractive than James Guest’s black externally worn back brace) and Euhana Varigos and Julian Snow.  The handicap of Rec30 Owe 15 1 serve ban tambour and chases ¾ was never enough to trouble the middle aged firm of Varigos and Snow; in fact ever since Euhana put young C.J. in his place for hitting a particularly good shot at her all of their remaining opponents appeared to be enspelled and unable to do anything but rally gently with Julian to their inevitable doom.

FINAL

Snow/Varigos def. Foster/MacKinnon 6/3

Well done to the Winners and well done also to Jonathan Howell who put the day together, cooked lunch, made dessert, played tennis to please and made sure that it was a cheery day for everyone.

Owen Guest

Jim Bailey and Ford Strachan Trophies

Over the weekend the RMTCs two main junior (U21) events were played, the Jim Bailey Handicap and the Ford Strachan.  On Saturday Richard Pagone showed his handicap smarts in defeating both James Gould and Michael Williams to win the Jim Bailey and today James Gould became the Ford Strachan Champion when he beat Michael Williams 6/4 6/2.  James’s game has matured immensely over the last 2 years and after today’s match his handicap will move below 20 for the first time.  Michael possesses a power game which is the envy of many but James was able cope and ultimately keep Michael off balance forcing most of his shots to miss their mark. Congratulations to James and Richard.

Jim Bailey Cup Winner

Richard Pagone

Ford Strachan Winner

James Gould def. Michael Williams

6/4 6/2

Owen Guest

Quarterly Medal #4

Congratulations to Anabelle Guest, Brad Montague, Alistair Hill and Andrew Gould on being the final 4 winners of the year’s QM on Saturday 16 October.  On Sunday 5th December, Finals Day, all QM winners shall play-off for the title of Medal of Medalists!  The full list of 2010 Winners is Greg Moran, Brigitte Claney, Anabelle Guest, Brad Montague, Andrew Gould, Alistair Hill, Will Fowles, Bredan O’Brien, John Moran, Charles Foster, Diane Rennard, Ed Welch and Owen Guest.

2010 Victorian Open

The 2010 Victorian Open, the Singles also known as the Woolner Stone Trophy and the Doubles the George Limb Trophy, was played over October 8 – 11. In the main draw great tennis was played by the likes of Ruaraidh Gunn, Kieran Booth, Julian Snow, Bret Richardson and Mike Happell. In the Singles event Gunn defeated Richardson in the first semi-final and Snow proved too steady in the backhand-to-backhand exchanges for Booth in the second (score 6/5 6/5). The final was therefore played between Gunn and Snow and at 3-all in the first set it was looking like Snow could wind back the clock a decade or so as he pushed the world number 6. However, from then on Gunn tightened his railroad just enough to change the tempo of the floor exchanges. Rather than playing backhand-to-backhand, more often the rally found its way to Ruaraidh’s forehand and an eventual Grille.

Victorian Open Singles
FINAL SCORE
R. Gunn defeated J. Snow
6/3 6/1

In the A Division Jon Hamer was able to fend off Sarah Vigrass and Jonnie Davies won the plate event.

A Division Singles
FINAL SCORE
J. Hamer defeated S. Vigrass
6/4 6/3

Plate Event Singles
WINNER
J. Davies

On Monday night the doubles final was played by the AUS amateur champions Happell/Richardson against Gunn and Booth, with Gunn/Booth being the favourites according to the experts. In what was clearly the match of the tournament, Happell and Richardson took the first set thanks to Happell’s craftsman’s display in the forehand corner coupled with Richardson’s net play – unlike any other player, Richardson’s net play covers the net all the way to the main wall and also includes the overhead backhand smash volley. The second set saw the scores reversed as Gunn became even steadier and Booth, subduing his instinctive impetuosity, provided the foil. Throughout the first two sets both pairs mixed extreme pace with deft touch and placement. Happell’s mixture of cut, drop shots and crosscourt play from the forehand corner at the service end was doubles at its best. The third set was the best of them all. Power, reflex volleys, all four players turned it on. And just as Happell and Richardson looked to have it won by taking a 5/1 lead, Gunn and Booth squared it at 5-all. Momentum in the final game shifted repeatedly. At 30 love up and serving the amateurs looked to have it, then the other pair laid two great chases seemingly turning the match in their favour. With the score now 30-all and the amateurs at the receiving end the pre-match favourites were once again in the box seat. This time Happell was able to lay a chase allowing them another chance at the service end. Finally, after one deuce and after saving a match point, and another change of ends, and after another long rally Ruaraidh was unable to get one of Happell’s forehands back and it was over.

Victorian Open Doubles
FINAL SCORE
Happell/Richardson defeated Gunn/Booth
6/4 4/6 6/5

Owen Guest

2010 Eureka and Larwood Cups

On Sunday 3rd October the RMTC took on Ballarat’s finest as we contested the Eureka (Men’s) and Larwood (Women’s) Cups – these events are played off handicap and include singles and doubles. The Eureka team made up of Owen Guest, Philip Barker, Fred Kininmonth, Andrew Buckle, Paul Andrews, James Guest and Alasdair Norton was carefully selected so that victory was always assured whilst at the same time we could continually throw out the false lure of hope to Ballarat that victory was attainable. The Larwood team of Anabelle Guest, Fiona Hewson, Sophie Johnson and Diane Rennard was chosen along similar lines.

Performances throughout the day were largely spectacular. James Guest and Paul Andrews were a little slow on the uptake of what was required and won all their pre-lunch matches. Andrew Buckle’s entrance on the day was so grand that it had to be delayed until after lunch (Ed – thank you very much to my wife Anabelle for lunch) when he correctly assessed the situation and lost his first match. Following Andrew’s leading effort to even up the day, Owen allowed Michael Williams to get a narrow victory for Ballarat and Alasdair and Philip also showed their chivalrous natures by losing a rubber each. With two matches to go Ballarat led 6 matches to 5 and with Andrew Buckle and James Guest to play the final two matches for the RMTC we had them right where we wanted them.

In the meantime the ladies made sure the Larwood Cup was set to be returned to its rightful place as they swept to a 4 – 2 lead before dropping the final match so as to avoid any hard feelings. The pivotal match was played by Diane and Anabelle against Liz Williams and Wendy Whitehead with the RMTC pair clinching victory 8 games to 7. Sophie and Fiona also played exceptionally well helping overcome the Ballarat team of Annie Strange, Tonya Roberts, Stephanie Williams as well as the above mentioned two. With the Larwood safely in our keeping, focus renewed upon the Eureka.

The second last match was played by James and Fred who accounted for Paul Williams and Peter Dunn thanks in equal parts to James’s on court captaincy and Fred’s sense of humour. With the scores now locked at 6 apiece the final match proved to be the stage Andrew Buckle has long been looking for. With the honour of the RMTC at stake, he produced his rarely seen, but full repertoire of shots, including the drop, the force and the tricky bounce, and notwithstanding the irritation of his partner Paul, who occasionally got in the way, clinched a victory for the RMTC.

With James Guest and Andrew Buckle playing such prominent roles in securing victory for the RMTC it prompts one to reflect that it is very rare that one witnesses that, how does one say it, that sort of sixth sense, that instinctive team work that is required on the real tennis court when playing doubles. And it remains rare too …..

In the interest of full disclosure we include the Ballarat perspective of the day.

Mark Hartnell here, reporting from the frontline at the 2010 Eureka Cup. This is where two quite well matched ‘President’s Selections’ from Ballarat and Melbourne faced off in a handicap format. Singles games of first to six mixed with doubles sets to eight meant the winners were likely to be the fast starters. In case you haven’t read any of my previous tennis accounts and are looking for something fair and reasonable please look away now.

It has struck me all of a sudden that within all Real Tennis Players there is a Good and Bad Player. Saintly side by side with Evil if you will. Here are some thoughts about both aspects of the Ballarat Eureka players on the day. I didn’t get to see the first Paul Williams singles match but clearly Good Paul showed up. This is the Paul that only hits the ball as hard as it needs to be hit, that goes about his business in a placid gentlemanly way, hits a decent backhand volley and tight railroad. Later in the day we saw some Bad Paul: swinging his head off, smacking the Grille as an opponent went to serve, groaning with pain with every railroad serve threatening to rip his shoulder capsule apart and unable to buy a backhand volley.

Evil Dean Cinque is the one who leans against the dedans ledge in the middle of key points and has tennis shoes made from concrete. Good Dean, who appears consistently when games get close, chases down everything when the heat is on, thinks very quickly on his feet and fired up Stuart with some quirky and random humour.

Sadly I believe we only got to see Good Rod Unmack for the odd point here and there. This Rod demonstrates solid shots in all areas of the game and his serve is improving. Evil Rod clearly has a problem with what HG and Roy would call “over-arousal”. Rod seems to have the capacity to play EVERY point like his mortgage is riding on it. This level of intensity cannot be maintained without consequences to his mental health. I believe Dean and Rod need to get together and negotiate an exchange of intensity. Something that involves putting a rocket up Dean for the FIRST half of matches and Douses the Flames that are Burning Rod from Within. And maybe paraphrasing some wise words into a Tennis context: “the last point is history, the next point is in the future and the current point is a gift” – (Especially if it’s a hazard chase. Ed)

Michael Williams and Stuart Strange left their Evil sides at home.

Stuart dominated some long rests in his doubles games whereas his Evil side would not have been steady enough. His new look Succinct Bunt has replaced the traditional ‘get-out-of-the-way’ Smash Volley. Michael obviously felt confident that his opponents had enough skill that he wouldn’t kill them with a well-placed missile between the eyes. (Perhaps misguided confidence. Ed) He kept up a consistent forcing power for the whole day when his Evil self might have become conflicted and started hitting dodgy three quarter pace forces out of the confines of the court. Michael demolished RMTC President Owen Guest. Owen was still looking for the serve that would stop Michael from trying to kill him when the game was over.

Peter Dunn has the simplest Good and Evil dichotomy to unravel. The Good Pete is the one that greets balls belted at his forehand volley with a resounding PING from the epicentre of the strings. The Evil One treats slow moving trash like unassembled Ikea furniture with no instruction manual.
Andrew Pipkorn is bigger and scarier than me so he doesn’t have an evil side for the purposes of this report. Seeing Andrew and Stuart armed with their handicaps belting the crap out of Philip Barker and Rob ‘Fred’ Kininmonth was very satisfying from a Ballarat perspective and had us look like resurgent winners.

I, of course, also don’t have an evil side. The fact that I started the day insisting on trying to be steadier than a player 10 handicap points steadier than me was just a sound tactic which didn’t pay off.

Even with all the Evil Baggage we took down to Melbourne we narrowly lost 7 rubbers to 6. Next time, with some attention to the above, we will be avenged.

Grand Final Doubles II

Little in this world unfolds as we predict. Indeed, how could Owen have foretold that his prediction to win, in partnership with Lizzie Brown, and receive 3 bottles of Pol Champagne, would come to naught? Ten players seemingly playing for fun were actually playing to win!

Fiona Hewson, playing with Vince Scopellitti, decided to take possession of the net providing excellent target practice for her opponents. Susie Lindsay, returning to the court after some absence proved to be quite an assertive player, and if not dangerous to her opposition then to her partner Mark Miller.

Lizzie Brown was in deadly form. That smile and delightful feminine tennis (Ed. – I think Lizzie made an impression on someone on Saturday!) dress masking awesome speed and cunning and it was no surprise that she was declared the 2011 Norm Smith Winner.

Sophie Johnson was so keen to make up for her partner on the day, Paul Andrews, she sprained her ankle; however, she is made of strong stuff and duly declined any of the special attention on offer.

The men played with gusto but are not as interesting as the women who clearly are a force to be watched … with the Boomerang coming up.

The ultimate victors were Tim Threlfall and Michael Mac Aleavey whose fun turned to winning, even after surviving a Presidential call for a count back. As victors we enjoyed the spoils even if Pol Champagne morphed into 2 bottles of VB.

Julie Baker and Lizzie were wonderful, insuring everyone enjoyed a great lunch before the replay of the Grand Final was underway.

Michael Mac Aleavey

Internationality Doubles

On Sunday 12th September the MacKinnon family hosted the Internationality Doubles at the RMTC. In what must be one of the club’s longest running and most popular events on the calendar, Richard, Andrew, Ken and Jan turned on a brilliant all-day event starting with breakfast. Richard Mac can rightly claim to cook the best garlic mushrooms in town and Andrew’s roasted tomatoes alongside Ken and Jan’s eggs and bacon made for a perfectly balanced breakfast that got everyone in the mood for the day ahead. For those of you who don’t know, one of the traditions for this event is that each team prepares a lunch dish from the country they are representing. For lunch we ate Moussaka, Lasagne, roast beef, salad, braised lamb and noodles, tarte tatin, tiramisu and more besides – there was plenty for everyone and yet still not enough!

National costume is also encouraged and the day’s best costume winners were Lizzie Brown and Claire Heughan who played in pyjamas while representing the Land of Nod. After a few drinks during the evening Claire smiled and said “I’ve just won my first tennis trophy … pity it wasn’t for playing tennis”.

Amongst all the fun we also managed some tennis. Ten teams representing the likes of Nod, France, Iceland and Turkey battled for much of the day. Most of the matches were close and the semi finalists were not determined until the last matches. The reigning title holders for the last 2 years, Turkey (Richard MacKinnon and Euahna Varigos), were again in the thick of it as they defeated Anabelle Guest and Dianne Rennard of Italy 5/3 in one semi-final and Owen Guest and Andrew Gould, the well known Icelanders, were too strong for the Snoozers Lizzie and Claire in the other semi.

The final was a close run affair with Turkey looking like taking the title for the 3rd year running when they took a 4/1 lead. However, the Icelanders, with bellies full, steadied their longboats before securing a 6/4 victory over the Turks.

A big thank you to the MacKinnons whose generosity extended even further as they opened the bar for the players after the final and to Jonners for displaying his usual panache whilst running the tennis side of things.

Owen Guest