Last weekend a group of us went down to Hobart to play the President’s Cup and otherwise enjoy the Hobart Real Tennis Club. We played 12 matches on the Saturday and another 5 on Sunday and I am very pleased to be able to say that the RMTC were victorious by 11 rubbers to 6. Our team consisted of Richard Simpson, Richard Travers, Jeremy and Evelyn Howard, Tim Hurburgh, Paul Wheeler, Henry Turnbull, Iain Buchanan, Anabelle Guest and me with everyone enjoying at least one win. It was very nice to be accompanied by Isabelle Hurburgh, Libby Simpson, Denise Barratt, Helen Wheeler and Caroline Travers. Everyone had a few highlights but particular mentions go to Richard Simpson for his main wall winning gallery shot, Jeremy Howard for anchoring 3 matches with his wrong hand and to Evelyn Howard who was clearly best-on-court in each match she played.
It wasn’t all hard work for the team. On Saturday night we enjoyed what was an important night for the HRTC as we honoured Andrew Kemp in what was a celebration of his becoming an Honorary Life Member of the club. During the evening the past Presidents of the two clubs were asked to tell a story of their most embarrassing moments during their term. Amusing anecdotes were heard from Paul Wheeler, George Casimaty and Warren Boyles. Henry Turnbull claimed that his term was completely without incident but it was Richard Travers who won the Champagne for asking a man, who was playing tennis with a young girl he didn’t recognise, the name of his daughter only to be told that she was his second wife!
Alistair Curley gave a wonderful speech about Andrew Kemp and then Andrew spoke to his heart’s content ignoring first his wife and then his own wise words to keep it short. At one point he said he would like to finish with his regrets of which he had NONE – he then went to sit down before bouncing back up to continue for another 5 minutes. It was all good fun.
Andrew is the patron of the HRTC and on behalf of everyone at the RMTC we’d like to thank him for everything he’s done for the club in making it the generous and hospitable club that it is that so many of us have enjoyed visiting over the years. We would also like to thank John Ramsay (HRTC President) and Barry Toates for hosting and arranging a great weekend and to anyone heading down that way I recommend Sunday lunch at the Meadowbank vineyard on the way to the airport.
This year’s Richmond Silver Racket (which is open to the top 16 players by handicap) was played over the weekend with players handicaps ranging from 12 to 34. There were a number of good performances including Nick Shelton’s back-to-back 3 set wins against first Jon Hamer and then Alistair Hill. However, in the top half of the draw it was Graeme Blundstone of the HRTC who starred defeating along the way Owen Guest and Andrew Gould before defeating Nick in the semi-final 6/3 6/2. In the bottom half of the draw Dan Williams did well to make the semi-final before he fell victim to James Gould 6/3 6/5.
The final was played with Graeme (22.3) giving James (24.9) Rec ½ 15. James played his ever improving left handed combination of rangy stroke play and youthful abandon and Graeme, who looks like an accomplished lawn tennis player, ran and retrieved like Georgie Lewis’s most recently adopted canine. It took James about an hour to defend the honour of the RMTC as he completed his victory 6/5 6/4 and once again it was his left handed railroad that gave him his edge.
The only disappointing aspect of the event was that the club’s leading players did not take part.
James Gould def. Graeme Blundstone
Last night, June 25th, the final of the Club Doubles Championship was played between reigning title holders Mike Happell/Bret Richardson and Kieren Booth/Daniel Williams. Despite it being nasty night outside, a good crowd gathered to watch what unfolded as an excellent exhibition for all concerned. Whilst it was no surprise that Mike and Bret were able to defend their title, Kieren showed that his comeback to the game is going at full steam and Dan, whose handicap is some 10+ handicap points higher than the others, looked like he belonged in the said company as he made almost every volley that came his way and defended the Grill and Tambour with courage and skill. Despite Kieren and Dan’s best efforts it was Mike and Bret who carried the day, or evening, and they remain the premier doubles combination in both the Club and country.
Happell/Richardson def. Booth/Williams 6/3 6/2 6/2
P.S. Barbara’s sausage rolls were a real treat and thankyou to Lizzie Brown and Fiona Hewson for your efforts on the night.
On Monday 14th June we celebrated Queen Elizabeth II 84th birthday (actual birthday April 21) by playing round-robin handicap doubles. Good tennis interspersed by an Andrew Schnaider inspired lunch led to a jovial crowd staying on after their own tournaments were over to watch the finalists. It was fitting that the English pair of Nick Brodie and Steve Wood took out the event and it also marked the last time we shall see Nick Brodie for the time being as he has to go back to England. On behalf of the RMTC, Nick, bon voyage and we hope to see you back here as soon as possible.
Wayne Spring/Tim Hurburgh def. Sam Sandon/Julian Metzner
Nick Brodie/Steve Wood def. Kim Dudson/Mark Miller
Brodie/Wood def. Spring/Hurburgh 6/2
Wayne Spring/David Parker defeated Jon Hamer/Richard Hince
Ted Cockram/Philip Barker defeated James Guest/Paul Wheeler
John Hewson/Wheeler defeated Bob Malseed/Guest
Congratulations to D Special pennant winners:
Lancashire (Lesley O’Byrne, Stephanie Williams, Barry Johnson) defeated Hampshire (Lee Pessall, Fiona Hewson, Michelle O’Rorke).
And B Special pennant winners:
Hotham (Sarah Vigrass, Jonathan Buckley) defeated Mt Buller (Walter Cockram, Nick Brodie).
One of the club’s most popular events, the Exhibition Street Cup, took place over the 15-16 May weekend. Try as our wonderful handicap system does, there were a few familiar names doing well. Out of the original 30 players Michael Williams and James Gould both showed that they are still improving. James Gould was the tournaments early favourite defeating Chris Chapman, Frank Filippelli and his father along the way before losing unexpectedly to newcomer Harry Swinnerton in the semi-final. Nick Shelton also fancied his chances before succumbing once again to Sarah Vigrass in a quarter-final. David Johnston, another new player from RSY, continues to show great promise by making it to the quarter-final stage. The final was played between Michael Williams (H’cap 23) and Harry Swinnerton (58). Harry, playing in his first tournament, pushed Michael all the way by bowling down railroads and playing an all around robust game. Close as the final was, it was Michael’s experience and polish, along with a bit of brute force, that carried him home winning 8/7.
The Sunday doubles was also a close and enjoyable competition. Chapman and Brodie were on paper the most likely pairing to take the trophy home but they were no match for the experience of James Guest and Tony Miach, losing 7/8 in a semi-final. On the other side of the draw Ruaraidh Gunn partnering John Link made it through to the final with John playing an exceptional game from beneath the net. Guest and Miach won the final 8/7 and their names will now be placed upon the honour board which can be seen from the mezzanine.
Handicap singles winner Hugh McDonald
Level singles winner Daniel Williams
RMTC’s best young (U26) players contested this event, and its handicap version at the week-end. I was disappointed that I had been unable to attract any entries from Hobart or Ballarat, but we otherwise had a full field.
Daniel Williams, seeded 1, won the level event for the first time; he beat Simon Carr in a fluctuating match played at a quick pace and a decent level. Daniel dominated the first and third sets, wiining each of them 6/1, with a strong mix of fast railroads and aggressive volleying. He also scrambled well from the hazard end, keeping the ball in play until he got a chance to play an offensive shot. Extraordinarily, in between these two sets, Simon won the middle set to love, when Daniel temporarily lapsed into error. It was to Simon’s credit that he was able to capitalise to the fullest possible extent with some determined and effective play of his own.
Thirteen players ranging from 12 (Daniel) to 65 (Isabelle Carr) entered the handicap event, spurred on by the lure of the winner’s prize of a Day 1 dedans seat at the forthcoming world championship. Daniel’s younger brother, Michael, reached the final but was unable to give 30, owe 1/2 30 (1 serve, banned tambour) to Hugh McDonald, eventually succumbing 8-5. Hugh is comparatively inexperienced at our game, but clearly has racket skills and ability. He took full advantage of his mark of 51 handicap, improved through the week-end, and in the end missed very little that came at him on the volley or half-volley.
It was an encouraging week-end of junior tennis for the club, in which all competitors played well and behaved immaculately.
On behalf of the RMTC I’d like to report that we were all privileged to witness a wonderful match between Ruaraidh Gunn and Camden Riviere in the first leg of the 2010 Eliminator series last night on February 9. In what is shaping up as a very tight World Championship Challenge the first match was watched by 213 people in 30° plus heat and just as occurred in 2008, Camden emerged victorious in 5 sets.
The match was as much a war of attrition as it was a showcase of skill and power hitting. When Ruaraidh led the match 2 sets to 1 it looked like his combined speed and rugged floor game would prevail in the oppressive match conditions (truth be told, the players looked like they were coping with the heat far better than the spectators, it can get very hot in the side galleries you know ). However, Camden’s seemingly contained on court persona masks not only his competitiveness but also his tactical awareness. Time and again Ruaraidh placed Camden under immense pressure in rallies, particularly to his forehand (remember Camden is left handed), as he both retrieved and forced to an awkward length only for Camden to blunt the pace and somehow manage to move Ruaraidh from side to side. Often the rallies would end with Camden making a seemingly simple shot into a hazard or winning gallery. The serves employed by each player were also contrasting, Ruaraidh mixed Railroads and Giraffes whereas Camden used an occasional Drag to complement his Railroad although neither player had a clear advantage in this department. Obviously the margin between these two players is small but if Camden has an edge it must his ability to dictate the pace of the match in the early and mid stages before opening up his game with more aggression later.
We wish both players all the best for the remainder of their respective World Championship Challenges and also to the other clubs hosting matches in this series, Aitken, Philadelphia, Seacort and Tuxedo we hope you are also treated just as we were last night.
Camden Riviere defeated Ruaraidh Gunn
4/6 6/2 5/6 6/0 6/2
On the weekend of the Winter Solstice a ridiculous amount of court time was devoted to moribund bodies whose associated brains showed no shame or sense of the ridiculous in entering competitions under the description “Masters” (sic). The realism of this view was made apparent by the knee-bandaged but otherwise serviceable body of Venerable Genuine Master Julian Snow being involved in two almost total whitewashes of opponents Hamer & Parker and Hince & Bull in order to reach the final of the Over 40s which will be played on 11th July. Ted Cockram’s cameo part in this left him with energy to carry the septuagenarian Guest to a 6/4 victory over the septuagenarians Garnett & Wheeler in the over 60s in the first set before realism or weariness or brain switch off allowed the older pair to storm through 6/1 6/2. The latter pair, having had to play out a second set 6/4 against Hewson & Guest in the over 70s final (sic) were understandably showing signs of weariness as they succumbed to Richardson & Hurburgh in the over 60s final only an hour later on Sunday morning 4 and 2. The over 50s, a sort of nondescript age where it would have been good to see some female entrants to distract attention from the first signs of major decay setting in, was won by Hurburgh and Hamer against Hince and Bull 4 and 4 after an interesting preliminary on the Saturday when Barker & Parker were only beaten 0/6, 6/2. 6/3. Some amazing shots were pulled off in all age groups, sufficient to fill memory and more than fill sports commentary for the few decades left to the shot makers, and not all the better than half a yard chases were made with back spin off penthouses any more that those at the hazard end depended on wish-fulfilling eyesight.
Information about this tournament would not be complete without noting that the principal rapporteur was the tournament organiser who reports that the tournament organisation was a brilliant success, even including the catering which the non-cooking organiser managed economically so that even the Coles house-brand chocolate chip biscuits were finished once the President’s attention had been drawn to them. This account escaped interpolations from the V-P and is therefore entirely balanced and accurate.