2005 Irish Champion: Roland Budd
2005 Open Champion: Tim Church

Some of the players and supporters at the 2005 Irish Real Tennis Championships
Players and supporters
The exterior of the 1889 real tennis court and club facilities at Holyport
Holyport court exterior

Over the weekend of 28th/29th May, we held a very successful championship at the Holyport Real Tennis Club in the UK. The court has existed for well over a century, and is housed in a fine red-brick building. The pros, Nick Wood and Adam Pyne, organised a great programme of doubles games on the Saturday, to give everybody a good amount of time on court. There was a break for an excellent lunch, provided by club member Jill Newby, and Brian Rich had brought along some fascinating historical material on early European tennis courts for everyone to look through. Games were played handicapped, with one eight-game set, limited to 40 minutes, which kept the programme ticking along very well. 2004 Irish Champion Alastair MacKeown was defending his title, but we were sorry that 2004 Open Champion Nick Ponsford was unable to play, although his health is now mostly recovered after suffering a heart attack.

Laura Duncan (left) and John Previte prepare to receive a return of service
Laura Duncan, John Previte

The club is conveniently situated about five minutes' walk from The Belgian Arms, whose landlord Jamie is a real tennis player at Holyport. Players, supporters, and the Holyport pros enjoyed a meal here on the Saturday evening, and took the opportunity to discuss tennis matters over a pint or two of the local Brakspear bitter. We were particularly pleased that Síle Reilly, IRTA president, had flown over from the United States especially, and that we were able to catch up on the hard work she has been doing to promote our cause there.

On Sunday, there were some friendly doubles matches during the morning, with lunch again provided at the club. In the afternoon, the two championships were decided. The Irish Final was between Síle Reilly and relative newcomer to the game Roland Budd. In the match, Síle was playing with a severe handicap (owe 30 vs receive half-15), and Roland went into the lead. Síle drew level, but lost a couple of crucial games from 40-all, and the close-fought match ended in victory for Roland.

Open Champion, Tim Church (left), with finalist Richard McGregor
Open finalists

Holyport local player Richard McGregor met Tim Church (of Queen's club) in the Open final, and, like the Irish final, an evenly-matched game resulted. Richard took an early lead, but Tim fought back and took the match 8–6. Both finals were very entertaining for the spectators, watching from the dedans and from the bar area of the club. Jamie from the Belgian Arms, and other club members, dropped in during the afternoon to give support and watch both matches.

Mike Bolton presents trophies to Irish Champion Roland Budd (left), and to Open Champion Tim Church (right)
Irish Champion Open Champion

At the end of the weekend, IRTA Chairman Mike Bolton gave a brief update on the state of play as regards the Dublin Court, and presented trophies to the winners. He also thanked, as the IRTA reiterates now, everybody who worked to make the weekend a success: Bear North and Nick Wood, who organised the event from the Irish side and the Holyport side repectively; the Holyport club for hosting us, its members for giving up their court for the weekend, and the pros Nick and Adam for running the programme and marking the matches; Stefan King, pro at the Harbour Club, who represents the IRTA in the IRTPA; those Holyport members who provided accommodation for the visitors; Jill, for providing the delicious lunches; everybody who took part in the competition; and Investor Select Advisors, for their kind sponsorship, now gratefully received for three years running.

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